What Is HTTP?

HTTP which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the set of rules that governs the internet for transferring digital files, such as text, images, graphics, video, sounds, and other multimedia files, on the World Wide Web. As soon as an internet user opens up their Web Browser, they are indirectly making use of the HTTP protocol. HTTP is an application software protocol that runs on top of the TCP/IP suite of protocols which is the fundamental protocols for the Internet.

As the Hypertext part in HTTP suggests, HTTP concepts include the idea that digital files can contain references and links to other files whose selection will bring about additional transfer requests. In addition to the Web page files HTTP can serve, any Web server machine contains an HTTP daemon which is a program that is developed to wait for HTTP requests and handle them when they arrive.

A Web browser is simply an HTTP client that sends requests for files to server machines. When a user opens a browser window and enters a request for a file by either "opening" a Web file (entering in a URL) or by clicking on a hypertext link, the browser then generates an HTTP request and sends it to the Internet Protocol address (IP address) that is indicated by the URL. The HTTP daemon in the receiving server machine accepts the request and sends back the appropriate requested file or files that are associated with the request. As a note, a Web page is often made up of more than one file.

HTTP is called a stateless protocol simply because every individual command is carried out independently, without any knowledge of the previous commands that came before it. This is the main reason that it is difficult to build Web sites that react very intelligently to user input. This limitation of HTTP is being solved in a number of new technologies, including Java,  ActiveX, JavaScript, and cookies.

Features Of HTTP

There are three primary  features that make HTTP to be a simple yet very powerful protocol:

1. HTTP is connectionless: An HTTP client, for example, a web browser, starts an HTTP request and after the request is sent, the browser which is the client waits for the response. The web server processes the request and sends back a response after which the client disconnects the connection. So the client and the server knows about each other during the present request and response only. Additional requests are made on a new connection as if the clients and the server are new to each other.

2. HTTP is media independent: This simply means that any kind of data can be transferred through HTTP as long as the client and the server knows how to handle the content of the data. It is required for the client as well as the server to define the data content type using the appropriate MIME-type.

3. HTTP is stateless: As stated above, HTTP is void of connections and it is a straight result of HTTP being a stateless protocol. The server and client only know of each other during an ongoing request. after then, both of them would forget about each other. Due to this nature of the web protocol, neither the client nor the browser can preserve information between different requests across the different web pages.

Benefits Of HTTP

Some of the benefits of HTTP includes:

1. If you use HTTP(S), then you can make use of existing browsers and high-quality HTTP clients to debug, test, and use your web applications.

2. Caching infrastructure: HTTP heavily depends on and takes advantage of a caching infrastructure that is used worldwide, local browser cache, org caches found in HTTP proxies, reverse proxies,  ISP caches, etc. If you use HTTP(S) you can instantly take advantage of this infrastructure.

3. Compression: HTTP support data compression by making use of different algorithms if you use HTTP(S) you don’t need to implement your own compression algorithm.

4. Added Security: If you make use of HTTPS you can leverage the advantage of all the security features that are provided by HTTPS.

5. Tools: There is a large number of tools that are built around HTTP(S) that are at your disposal if you use HTTP protocols.


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