IETF starts work on next-generation HTTP standard

HTTP 2.0 will be based on Google SPDY protocol

With an eye towards updating the World Wide Web to better accommodate complex and bandwidth-hungry applications, the Internet Engineering Task Force has started work on the next generation of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), the underlying protocol for the Web.

"It's official: We're working on HTTP/2.0," wrote IETF Hypertext Transfer Protocol working group chair Mark Nottingham, in a Twitter message late Tuesday.

The group will use the IETF standard SPDY protocol as the basis for the updated protocol. Engineers at Google developed SPDY as a way to hasten the delivery of Web content over the Internet.

Nottingham officially announced the work following the recharter of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol working group by the IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group).

Version 2.0 of HTTP will address the changing nature of how people use the Web. While the first generation of Web sites were largely simple and relatively small, static documents, the Web today is used as a platform for delivering applications and bandwidth-intensive real-time multimedia content.

The protocol will reduce latency, and streamline the process of how servers transmit content to browsers. It must be backward compatible with HTTP 1.1, as well as remain open to be extended for future uses as well.

HTTP 2.0 will continue to rely primarily on TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), though other transport mechanisms may be substituted.

Julian Reschkeof, Alexey Melnikov and Martin Thomson will serve as editors for the proposed draft, to be called draft-ietf-httpbis-http2-00. The group is scheduled to submit a proposed standard to the IESG by 2014.

The working group will also continue to refine the current version of the protocol, HTTP 1.1, which underlies the entire World Wide Web. According to estimates, there are currently about 8.45 billion Web pages.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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