HTTP/2 on Firefox

Firefox 36 arrives with full HTTP/2 support and a new design for Android tablets. Mozilla launched Firefox 36 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The biggest news for the browser is undoubtedly HTTP/2 support. HTTP/2, the second major version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the biggest update in years.  HTTP/2 (originally named HTTP/2.0) is the second major version of the HTTP network protocol used by the World Wide Web. It is based on SPDY. It is the first new version of the HTTP protocol since HTTP 1.1, which was standardized back in June 1999.

What is HTTP/2? HTTP/2 is a replacement for how HTTP is expressed “on the wire.” It is not a ground-up rewrite of the protocol; HTTP methods, status codes and semantics are the same, and it should be possible to use the same APIs as HTTP/1.x (possibly with some small additions) to represent the protocol. HTTP/2 is defined for both HTTP URIs and for HTTPS URIs (over TLS, where TLS 1.2 or newer is required). Some implementations, such as Firefox,[21] have stated that they will only support HTTP/2 when it is used over an encrypted connection. It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever see unencrypted HTTP/2. The reason is that there is a lot of existing infrastructure (e.g. proxies, load balancers, firewalls) that would fail if it encountered HTTP/2 frames.

 The proposed changes do not require any changes to how existing web applications work, but new applications can take advantage of new features for increased speed. According to A Simple Performance Comparison of HTTPS, SPDY and HTTP/2 article HTTP/2 is likely to provide significant performance advantages compared to raw HTTPS. HTTP/2 reduces the number of connections that have to be setup to download a page.

http2 explained describes the protocol HTTP/2 at a technical and protocol level. Background, the protocol, the implementations and the future.



1 Comment

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CloudFlare intros HTTP/2, so we can ‘spend holiday time with our family’
    So … erm, that’s a good thing, probably

    CloudFlare is introducing HTTP/2 support for all of its users, to be available on all SSL/TLS connections – while still supporting SPDY – so netizens can spend more time with their families instead of waiting for pages to load this Christmas.

    Talking to The Register on Tuesday night, CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince explained the company’s “multiple step rollout” of the future of the web.

    “The first step really started when we turned on TLS. Thursday will be the second step, when we announce base protocol support for everyone,” Prince said, before admitting “for most customers we’ve actually quietly already turned it on.”

    “The way we do rollouts is roll out to free customers in one particular data centre: free customers in Toronto in this instance. So as of last Wednesday, they went live, so that happened quietly, and over the holiday weekend in the US we’ve been expanding that to other data centres,” said Prince.

    “So, by the end of Tuesday we’d be done with the push (so it’s in all facilities) and then Wednesday is just a day of buffer before the announcement on Thursday. The third step is what we’re doing in the New Year,” he added.

    Dodging HTTP/2 scanners for “a massive spike” on Thursday, Prince stated that the rollout will be “a Christmas present to the internet”.

    “This is the first time that the underlying protocol of the internet, HTTP, has been updated since 1998, so it’s a pretty big change on one level, but on another level it’s just based on a protocol developed by Google called SPDY,” said Prince.

    While not initially developed to replace HTTP, the method in which it overrides connection management and data transfer formats has substantially informed the Internet Engineering Task Force’s HTTP/2.

    CloudFlare has supported SPDY for just over three years, and Prince claimed that “75 per cent of the top Alexa websites support SPDY because of CloudFlare”.

    “When HTTP/2, which was really an outgrowth of SPDY, came out, we committed to making sure this was available to all of our users, including those using our service for free. We don’t believe you should pay a tax to be a part of the modern internet,” said Prince.


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