Terms Glossary H Hypertext Transfer Protocol
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Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

An application protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.
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HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web. Hypertext is structured text that uses logical links (hyperlinks) between nodes containing text. HTTP is the protocol to exchange or transfer hypertext. The standards development of HTTP was coordinated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), culminating in the publication of a series of Requests for Comments (RFCs). The first definition of HTTP/1.1, the version of HTTP in common use, occurred in RFC 2068 in 1997, although this was obsoleted by RFC 2616 in 1999. HTTP functions as a request-response protocol in the client-server computing model. A web browser, for example, may be the client and an application running on a computer hosting a web site may be the server. The client submits an HTTP request message to the server. The server, which provides resources such as HTML files and other content, or performs other functions on behalf of the client, returns a response message to the client. The response contains completion status information about the request and may also contain requested content in its message body. A web browser is an example of a user agent (UA). Other types of user agent include the indexing software used by search providers (web crawlers), voice browsers, mobile apps, and other software that accesses, consumes, or displays web content. HTTP is designed to permit intermediate network elements to improve or enable communications between clients and servers. High-traffic websites often benefit from web cache servers that deliver content on behalf of upstream servers to improve response time. Web browsers cache previously accessed web resources and reuse them when possible to reduce network traffic. HTTP proxy servers at private network boundaries can facilitate communication for clients without a globally routable address, by relaying messages with external servers. HTTP is an application layer protocol designed within the framework of the Internet Protocol Suite. Its definition presumes an underlying and reliable transport layer protocol, and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is commonly used. However HTTP can use unreliable protocols such as the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), for example in Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP). HTTP resources are identified and located on the network by uniform resource locators (URLs), using the uniform resource identifier (URI) schemes http and https. URIs and hyperlinks in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents form inter-linked hypertext documents.
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