The credit of inventing the hypertext transfer protocol (or HTTP in short) goes to Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist. The first known version of HTTP was 0.9 and was documented in 1991. Then HTTP 1.0 was introduced in 1996 and later HTTP 1.1 was released in 1997. But since then there had been no significant updates in the HTTP protocol. In 2007, Google pointed out the problem with sequential requests in HTTP 1.1 and started working on SPDY technology which is now being adopted in form of HTTP 2.0. It is a matter of time that HTTP 2.0 is adapted by all the web servers and browsers. In fact many web browsers including Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera have good support for the HTTP 2.0. Mozilla Firefox is lagging behind a little bit, but they have released the HTTP 2.0 support in their Nightly builds – which is unfortunately disabled by default. If you want, you can enable HTTP 2.0 in the Firefox browser using the following simple steps:
- You have to have at least version 30 of Firefox for HTTP 2.0 functionality. So you can wait for the release edition or get nightly builds from https://nightly.mozilla.org/.
- Run Firefox browser. Type about:config in the browser address bar. This will show a warranty message. You can click on the I’ll be careful, I promise button to proceed.
- Type spdy in the Search box to narrow down the settings. Look for a setting named network.http.spdy.enabled.http2draft. Double-click on this setting to change its value from false to true.
- Similarly, find a setting named security.ssl.enable_alpn and change its value to true. Also make sure that setting named security.ssl.enable_npn is set to true as well.
- That’s it. Now Firefox should support the new HTTP 2.0 protocol. In order to test the HTTP 2.0 in your Firefox browser. You can first open the Browser Console by pressing Ctrl + Shift + J in Firefox. Then visit the test endpoint links given on https://github.com/MSOpenTech/http2-katana webpage. The Browser Console should show HTTP 2.0 conversation with the server.
As for now, HTTP 2.0 is an ongoing project and there is no final or official release from IETF. Therefore HTTP 2.0 support in Firefox is very limited. In addition, there are very few websites actually running on HTTP 2.0 capable web servers, so may have difficulty finding HTTP 2.0 ready websites.