What is HTTP/2 and How Will This Affect Your Business?
First of all, let’s take a look at HTTP as this will make understanding HTTP/2 much easier. HTTP is short for HyperText Transfer Protocol and is the code that is used when you want to visit a website. In other words, you type an URL into your browser which then sends a request using HTTP to the server. The web page you request is then sent to your browser using HTTP again.
In simple terms, HTTP is the roadway of the internet along which you send requests and receive the results of these requests.
Why do we need HTTP/2?
HTTP has been around as long as the internet and during this time, digital technology has dramatically improved. Can you remember the earliest websites? How simple they were? Now, websites are much more complex with high quality images, complex style sheets, embedded videos and lots of different codes.
HTTP was designed for simpler websites and was not designed to carry these more complex sites. The result is that the internet can’t cope with this complexity and has started to slow down.
To clarify this point to you, let me explain this further with an analogy. When you type an URL into to your browser, you are actually asking a server to find a web page for you and send it to your browser. The problem is that asking for a web page isn’t like asking for a loaf of bread, because using HTTP you will receive only one slice at a time, rather than the whole loaf in one go.
This is because, using HTTP, your browser sends one request for one small part of the web page, maybe an image. It then has to wait for a response from the server about that request, before it can request another part of the website. This was fine when websites were very simple, but it creates a bottleneck at the server level and more often than not, is the cause of increasingly slow loading times.
Another point is that even though internet connections have become much faster over the past few years, your browser cannot take full advantage of this increased speed because of this bottleneck. That’s why even with a high speed connection, loading times can be quite slow.
So in a nutshell, HTTP is outdated and cannot cope with the complex websites that we have today.
How will HTTP/2 fix this problem?
HTTP/2 will speed up the loading time of websites. It will allow you to take full advantage of fast internet connections, by removing this bottleneck at both the browser and the server level.
It will do this by allowing your browser to make multiple requests at any one time to the server. So instead of requesting one component of a website, your browser will be able to make multiple requests and receive multiple website components at the same time. Put this together with a browser’s increasing ability to have more open connections with a server, then you have multiple bundles of requests being sent via multiple connections from your browser to the server.
This will remove the transmission blockages and dramatically speed up the loading time of web pages.
How will HTTP/s affect your business?
Well, if you keep your browser up to date, it will have multiple connections across which it can make these requests. Then as HTTP/2 comes online, your loading times should increase dramatically. Websites that are not compatible with HTTP/2 will simply continue to use HTTP, which will still be available.
It is expected that HTTP/2 will become available sometime between now and 2016, which will make loading times for websites much faster. Some browsers are already compatible with HTTP/2 and others will only be able to access HTTP/2 over encrypted SSL connections (a good enough reasons to use SSL certificates on your website).
Jason is a Web Developer at Cornerstone who appreciates building websites that delight and inform. He is a curious person, and enjoys work that challenges him to learn something new and stretch in a different direction.