Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist December 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
No doubt you would have had to type http://.... when visiting a site on the
World Wide Web, but have you ever wondered what HTTP actually means?
We will not only explore this exciting
set of four letters together, but wander
through the latest version that has
recently been released.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or our
trusty "HTTP" describes the standard by
which information is exchanged over
the World Wide Web. When we put http
in a browser, it tells the browser to use
that standard so that information can be
exchanged in the correct format and be
understood in the correct way. As HTTP
is now the default format for the Web,
most browsers no longer require the
http to be prefixed before a web address.
The word hypertext refers to text that
is structured in a particular format, and
that uses hyperlinks to navigate between
different areas or pages.
As part of Tim Berners-Lee's work in
creating the World Wide Web project,
HTTP (along with HTML and other
exciting acronyms) were invented
around 1989. HTTP/0.9 became the first
standardised and documented version
in 1991, with HTTP/1.0 following in
1996. In 1999, HTTP/1.1 was officially
released and is to this day the standard
that dominates the world's Internet
traffic. HTTPS is a protocol that was
introduced in HTTP/1.1, and whilst it is
not the plural of HTTP, it refers to the
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure,
where communication is encrypted for
extra security and to protect transmitted
data from eavesdropping.
HTTP/2 (or sometimes written as
HTTP/2.0) is the next and latest version of
HTTP, and is in fact the first new version
of HTTP since HTTP/1.1. It is incredible
to think that in this technological world
where change is so rapid that the
HTTP/1.1 standard has survived without
change for around 18 years.
The majority of changes in HTTP/2
are around speed, and therefore quite
ironic that HTTP/2 is based on SPDY
(pronounced "speedy") which came out
of work done by Google. If you Google
"SPDY", it will lead you to The Chromium
Projects which are open-source projects
behind the Google Chrome browser.
Their executive summary calls it the 'Let's
make the web faster initiative' by reducing
the latency of web pages in general.
They claim to have managed to achieve
up to 64% reductions in page load times,
although their goal was to achieve 50%.
SPDY achieves this through four main
aspects: compression (reducing the size
of data communicated), concurrency
(sending multiple requests in the same
connection rather than just one request),
prioritisation (browser telling the
server which parts are more important)
and server push (web server sending
information before it is requested). By all
accounts Google has been successful
as SPDY has been adopted (with only
a few changes) as the standard now
In order for this new standard to be
successful, it needs to operate in
conjunction with transmissions using
Jason Bratuskins is a practising community pharmacy
proprietor with an enthusiastic interest in the
application of IT to day-to-day pharmacy. He also
works in the pharmacy IT industry on a number of
cutting-edge eHealth projects for Fred IT Group.
He can be contacted via email at: cyberpharm@
the incumbent HTTP/1.1 standard. It will
therefore be a gradual change across
to the new standard as web servers and
browsers are upgraded over time. All the
major browsers have added support
for HTTP/2 to their latest releases
-- that includes not only Chrome,
but also Internet Explorer 11, Safari,
Edge, Opera and Firefox (and more).
There doesn't appear to be an official
site that records the progress of how
many websites have been upgraded,
but it appears to be around the 2%
mark at present. There is also some talk
that new implementations of HTTP/2
will only be done using encryption (i.e.
HTTPS). Whilst the standard does not
mandate this, it is much better practice
and leads to a more secure Internet.
There is some debate about the actual
reduction in web page loading time,
and some talk as to whether the push
from Google to have the standard
adopted has more to it than just web
efficiencies. There are some concerns
around security and privacy issues
around cookies, and also whether the
standard is in fact the right way to go.
Encrypting all internet traffic seems
like a good idea but it also comes with
a cost, both in actual time to load
a web page, time to construct and
develop a web page, and the cost to
maintain certificates that provide the
In the end, now that HTTP/2 has been
ratified as a standard, it will gradually
find its way across the entire World Wide
Web. The familiar http and https letters
will still appear in your favourite browser
(yes, that's right, it won't change to
HTTP2), and overall web page loading
times should be significantly reduced.
Now that's worth the change!
Two speedy Webs are
better than one
BY JASON BRATUSKINS
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist November 2015 Australian Pharmacist January 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page