What is HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)?

One of the most important concepts of the internet and how it exchanges data

You must have already heard about HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It's indeed one of the most important concepts of the internet and how it exchanges data. It's the foundation for the entire data communication process on the WWW (World Wide Web). This application-level protocol is widely used for collaborative, hypermedia, and distributed information systems of the internet. This protocol is run on top of the TCP/IP layer. HTTP defines a set of rules that need to be followed for transferring files over the internet. This protocol applies to the following types of files, such as text, video, sound, graphic images, and other categories of multimedia files.

This protocol is being used since 1990 for two key purposes. First of all, it is used for the exchange and transmission of data on the World Wide Web. In addition to it, it's designed to establish communication between web servers and web browsers. Please note that it's a stateless and generic protocol as it does not retain any information on the data states between two requests. It simply follows the classic client-server model to communicate between the browser and its corresponding web server.

Here's how the client-server model of HTTP works...

  • Step#1: The client (i.e., a web browser) sends individual messages, technically termed as REQUESTS. Note, these requests are formed when a user navigates to a browser, types a URL, or clicks through a hyperlink text.
  • Step#2: The web server receives the sent requests.
  • Step#3: Upon receiving the HTTP requests, the server executes an application to process the request.
  • Step#4: Once it's processed, the server sends an HTTP RESPONSE.
  • Step#5: The browser (i.e., the client) receives the response.

In this way, the servers and clients communicate by transmitting and receiving individual messages. It has evolved a lot over the years, from the older versions of HTTP to the modern HTTP/2 and the upcoming HTTP/3.

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