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HTTP/2 moves a step closer to completion

The web could be in line for a speed boost as the HTTP/2 standard edges closer to being finalised.

The updated standard will be the first major alteration to the protocol since the late 1990s, and it includes a number of important updates that should help to make life online faster and more enjoyable.

Although HTTP/2 is yet to be published as a completed standard, it is already supported by some web browsers including Chrome and Firefox. However, it won't be until the standard is far more widely adopted that the real benefits will be felt.

The draft proposal for the HTTP/2 standard (opens in new tab) explains that it will introduce header field compression and allow more simultaneous connections for more efficient use of network resources. As The Next Web suggests (opens in new tab), this could also help to reduce the costs associated with running websites and online services by reducing server loads.

In a blog post (opens in new tab) Mark Nottingham, chair of the IETF HTTP Working Group, said: "The IESG has formally approved the HTTP/2 and HPACK specifications, and they’re on their way to the RFC Editor, where they’ll soon be assigned RFC numbers, go through some editorial processes, and be published."

The move to HTTP/2 should be a relatively painless one as it uses the same HTTP APIs.

While some finetuning may be needed, Nottingham explains (opens in new tab) that HTTP/2 is not a completely new standard, rather about "getting the HTTP we know on the wire in a better way".

There are also security benefits thanks to improved security options, and the interesting concept of 'cache pushing' that will make it possible to proactively send data to users' caches for later use.

It’s not yet known how long it might be before HTTP/2 is formally adopted, but the wheels are now very much in motion.

Photo credit: atm2003 (opens in new tab) / Shutterstock (opens in new tab)