Hypertext Transfer Protocol

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a networking protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.

The standards development of HTTP has been coordinated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), culminating in the publication of a series of Requests for Comments (RFCs), most notably RFC 2616 (June 1999), which defines HTTP/1.1, the version of HTTP in common use.

HTTP functions as a request-response protocol in the client-server computing model. In HTTP, a web browser, for example, acts as a client, while an application running on a computer hosting a web site functions as a server. The client submits an HTTP request message to the server. The server, which stores content, or provides resources, such as HTML files, or performs other functions on behalf of the client, returns a response message to the client. A response contains completion status information about the request and may contain any content requested by the client in its message body.

A client is often referred to as a user agent (UA). A web browser, or web crawler (spider, used by search providers) are examples of common types of clients or user agents.

The HTTP protocol is designed to permit intermediate network elements to improve or enable communications between clients and servers. High-traffic websites often benefit from web cache servers that deliver content on behalf of the original, so-called origin server to improve response time. HTTP proxy servers at network boundaries facilitate communication when clients without a globally routable address are located in private networks by relaying the requests and responses between clients and servers.

HTTP is an Application Layer protocol designed within the framework of the Internet Protocol Suite. The protocol definitions presume a reliable Transport Layer protocol for host-to-host data transfer.[2] The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is the dominant protocol in use for this purpose. However, HTTP has found application even with unreliable protocols, such as the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) in methods such as the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP).

HTTP Resources are identified and located on the network by Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs)—or, more specifically, Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)—using the http or https URI schemes. URIs and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), form a system of inter-linked resources, called hypertext documents, on the Internet, that led to the establishment of the World Wide Web in 1990 by English physicist Tim Berners-Lee.

The original version of HTTP (HTTP/1.0) was revised in HTTP/1.1. HTTP/1.0 uses a separate connection to the same server for every request-response transaction, while HTTP/1.1 can reuse a connection multiple times, to download, for instance, images for a just delivered page. Hence HTTP/1.1 communications experience less latency as the establishment of TCP connections presents considerable overhead.

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