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HTTP/2 and You

Posted by athompson Sep 20, 2016

There’s been a new iPhone released every year since 2007, sometimes two per year. In that same timeframe, there’ve been 17 iOS releases. This has enabled us to be connected to the web 24/7/365. Forever. I wonder what my phone is doing as I’m typing this…sigh.


Yet the protocol used to exchange communications over the web, HTTP, didn't change one bit from 1997 to 2015. Last year HTTP/2 was standardized and it brought a much-needed facelift to how we communicate on the Internet. However, it's adoption has been slow (for reasons we'll get to in another post).


HTTP/2 aims to help improve the performance of our web. For people who live their life down to the millisecond, you can rejoice. Here are a couple of ways it’s making things quicker for us.


HTTP/2 removes the need for front-end acceleration/optimization technologies


In 2012 there were a number of companies (Strangeloop, Aptimize, Blaze & AcceloWeb) that all focused on optimizing the loading of web pages to get content to end users more quickly. Google open-sourced a now-deprecated protocol, SPDY that had the same goal. It was a hot market at the time and each one them got acquired (Strangeloop was acquired by Radware, Aptimize by Riverbed, Blaze by Akamai, and AcceloWeb by Limelight Networks). Native to HTTP/2 is a lot of the core functionality of these front-end acceleration products like Image Spriting, Concatenating Java script & CSS files, Domain Sharding, and Inlining Assets.


Multiple assets can use a single TCP connection


In HTTP, it was a 1:1 relationship. For web pages that have 100+ assets per page that means 100+ TCP connections needed to be opened. With images, java script and CSS all being used more, latency will go down as you can access that content over 1 TCP connection shaving milliseconds off load times.


As more and more sites are built on top of HTTP/2 I’m excited to see the potential performance gains we experience in the clicks to come. 


This post was originally published by Andrew on LinkedIn.