Industry

HTTP/2 - The next version of the HTTP protocol

Sean S

Many of the problems with the HTTP protocol are finally being solved. This includes the failed attempts to address issues with HTTP/1.1 (pipelining). Gone are the many connections a browser now uses to get content. A single connection that is mutiplexed will be used. This will change how content delivery networks are used, the assumptions developers now make, and going forward what new techniques are needed to push speed even further.

HTTP/2 is being adopted rapidly: HTTP/2 Statistics: KeyCDN Report on HTTP/2 Distribution (Updated: October 20, 2015). Here we see the US is lagging behind the rest of the world.

All builders of web technology should be getting up to speed on the new version of HTTP. Here is a great article about HTTP/2 for web designers from Future Hosting:

What Does HTTP/2 Mean For Web Designers?

"A large proportion of what are considered performance best practices for front-end developers are actually techniques for getting around the limitations of HTTP/1.1. ... it will be largely pointless to create CSS image sprites, to join JavaScript and CSS files together into one long file, or to cram as much CSS into HTML pages as possible to avoid additional requests. HTTP requests will become much less expensive under HTTP/2. “Unbundling” has the added benefit that we will be able to send only the resources a specific page needs — only the CSS needed for page’s styles, only the images that need to display on that page."

One key issue will remain in our minds as developers: Encryption is still not mandatory. This will have ramifications for SEO ranking where mixed security (some page elements are encrypted and some aren't) will continue to be a concern.

Just as in past versions of the HTTP protocol, the new capabilities will be accounted for in web page design. A new feature which allows establishing the priority of  particular streams coming from the host will change the way we think about how content is delivered. A developer might choose to give priority to the main scaffolding and code logic of a single page web application having the highest priority, with other streams having a lower priority, such as content for sidebars. Think of parts of Iron Man's suit flying in from afar. You definately want the helmut first! For a good technical discussion read this:

An in depth overview of HTTP/2

Also, check out the FAQ on the new HTTP/2 protocol:

https://http2.github.io/faq/

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