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Last modified: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 

Short for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web. HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page.

The other main standard that controls how the World Wide Web works is HTML, which covers how Web pages are formatted and displayed.

HTTP is called a stateless protocol because each command is executed independently, without any knowledge of the commands that came before it. This is the main reason that it is difficult to implement Web sites that react intelligently to user input. This shortcoming of HTTP is being addressed in a number of new technologies, including ActiveX, Java, JavaScript and cookies.

Also see The Difference Between FTP and HTTP in the Did You Know . . . ? section of Webopedia.

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For pages about HTTP . Also check out the following links!

Related Links

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The latest news and information about Microsoft's .NET

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Course material on the HTTP protocol
This paper describes the functionality and detailed use of HTTP with both GET and POST mechanisms.

HTTP Made Really Easy
Explains the simple, English-based structure of HTTP communication, and describes the practical details of writing HTTP clients and servers.

HTTP Overview
W3C's home page for HTTP. Includes links to specifications for HTTP/1.0, HTTP/1.1 and HTTP-NG.

HTTP Specifications and Drafts
W3C page with links to HTTP specifications, drafts, and reports

HTTP tutorial
This detailed tutorial on HTTP provides information on properties, header fields, request methods, reponses, new developments and specifications.

IETF's HTTP Working Group Page
Describes the IETF HTTP working group and includes contact and mailing list information, meeting notes, preliminary Internet drafts, discussion drafts of revisions to RFC 2068, HTTP extension mechanisms, content negotiation, miscellaneous HTTP Internet drafts, and RFCs.

Internet Draft of the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
Provides links to download copies of the Internet Draft 07 for the hypertext tranfer protocol (HTTP) document, published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Performance interactions between P-HTTP and TCP - paper
Describes several performance problems resulting from interactions between implementations of persistent-HTTP (P-HTTP) and TCP.

Protecting Information on an HTTP Server
Mecklermedia Web Developer article (1997) on obtaining access control via the HTTP protocol by allowing or disallowing users access to a directory by user name through a series of commands.

RFC 2068
Request for Comments document for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1.

Yahoo!'s HTTP page
Yahoo!'s directory of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) links.

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