What is HTTP/2 and why should I care?

Our development team recently implemented a large infrastructure upgrade that impacts every single user of our application. It's proven to be a big success for us, and we'd love to share more.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is a set of rules that define the core language of the internet. These rules are among the most important in the digital world. Without them, tens of billions of devices would be screaming at each other in different tongues a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) times per day.

The IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) is responsible for maintaining these rules. HTTP/1.0 was introduced in 1996, and HTTP/1.1 in 1997. This standard has remained identical for nearly 20 years! Anything that can remain identical for 20 years in software is a true engineering feat.

As with most things, time is directly proportional to change. Do you remember the internet of 1997? It wasn't nearly as fancy, pretty, interactive or intuitive as it is today. However, doing all of these things require more code and the weaknesses of HTTP have grown more and more evident.

For a large web application (like Gingr) to load on your device, it must download 40 different files resulting in almost 1 Megabyte of data (that's a full floppy disk!). Each of the 40 files require multiple round-trips around the country (or even the world). Not only does this slow down your experience, it's very wasteful of resources. For example, Gingr's Dashboard page would normally require 160 round trips from your location to Virginia. Enter HTTP/2....

HTTP/2 is the latest standard from the IETF, published in 2015. It is designed to solve many of the problems we've encountered over the past 20 years. Instead of making 160 round-trips around the country, it now only takes 20! The cloud remembers what you've already downloaded and can even predict what you are going to download next and send it to your device before you even ask for it! These improvements allow engineers to worry less about performance optimizations and worry more about the user's experience.

This new technology is helping usher in the next generation of web applications and Gingr is on the cutting edge. Between October and November 2015, Gingr's Dashboard page load time has decreased from 1.8 seconds average to 700 milliseconds average (61%)!

Over the coming months, you'll see some of Gingr's core functionality (file uploading and credit card signature capturing in particular) speed up dramatically as well.

We're very excited to take advantage of this technology to deliver you the best possible experience. We have lots of great features planned for you over the next 6 months and can't wait to tell you about them!