World Wide Web Consortium Supports HTTP/1.1 Reaching IETF Draft Standard

Author(s) and publish date


Testimonials and -- 7 July 1999 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is pleased to recognize that HTTP/1.1, along with the accompanying authentication specification, has been approved by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) of the Internet Engineering Task Force ( IETF) as a IETF Draft Standard.

HTTP/1.1 Improves Web Performance and Security

HTTP is the primary protocol of the Web, originally proposed by Tim Berners-Lee while he was at CERN. HTTP/1.0, co-authored by Berners-Lee, Henrik Frystyk Nielsen of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Roy Fielding of the University of California at Irvine, was the first version of the HTTP that was widely used on the Internet. Although extremely popular, it had several significant performance issues that, combined with increased use of the Web, caused severe load problems on many parts of the Internet.

The purpose of HTTP/1.1, first proposed by Roy Fielding while at ICS/University of California at Irvine, is to provide higher end-user performance while preserving the integrity and stability of the Internet using features including persistent connections, pipelining, caching, and IP address preservation.

As important, the HTTP Digest Authentication mechanism, described in the accompanying HTTP Authentication specification, defines a method for authenticating a user to an HTTP server without exposing the user's passwords to potential eavesdroppers. This is an important step toward improving security on the Web.


W3C Participation in Development and Implementation

Standardization of HTTP has occurred in the IETF from its inception with strong support from the W3C. W3C team members have contributed heavily to the development of HTTP/1.1. Jim Gettys, visiting scientist at W3C from Compaq Computer Corporation, serves as HTTP/1.1 editor and co-author; Tim Berners-Lee, Director of W3C and Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, W3C HTTP Activity Lead, are co-authors of HTTP/1.1. Other co-authors include Roy Fielding of University of California at Irvine; Jeff Mogul also of Compaq; Paul Leach of Microsoft Corporation; and Larry Masinter of Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center.

W3C has also made several HTTP/1.1 implementations: the libwww client sample code library, by Henrik Frystyk Nielsen was used to demonstrate many early designs; and Jigsaw, W3C's Web server, implemented by Yves Lafon, Benoit Mahé, and Anselm Baird-Smith (now at Sun) implements both a normal server as well as a proxy server. These are among the very first HTTP/1.1 implementations, and play a key role in discovering errors in the HTTP/1.1 Proposed Standard (RFC 2068). Currently, most servers are able to support HTTP/1.1.

Previous W3C work includes a paper investigating HTTP/1.1 and the interactions of compression, style sheets and HTTP/1.1 entitled: "Network Performance Effects of HTTP/ 1.1, CSS1, and PNG" published in ACM SIGCOMM '97, by Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, Jim Gettys, Anselm Baird-Smith, Eric Prud'hommeaux, Håkon Wium Lie, and Chris Lilley of W3C.

IETF Draft Standard

Draft Standard is the second of the three step IETF standardization process; it recognizes that that HTTP/1.1 is stable, and has multiple interoperable implementations, and that all known technical issues have been resolved in the specification. A Draft Standard is considered to be very close to a final specification, and changes are likely to be made only to solve specific problems encountered. The RFC, based on draft 6 of the specification revision with some minor final editorial changes, is available as RFC 2616.

About The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. It is the protocol engineering and development arm of the Internet. The IETF conducts its technical work through working groups, which are organized by topic into several development areas and are managed by Area Directors. Area directors, in turn, make up the IESG, which is responsible for both the technical management of IETF activities and the Internet standards process.

About The Internet Society (ISOC)

The Internet Society (ISOC) is the international organization for global coordination and cooperation for the Internet, and is comprised of members from more than 150 countries. It was established in 1992 in response to a recognized worldwide need for a non-governmental, international organization to help support global expansion, standardization and change of the Internet. The Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet standards body, conducts its work under the auspices of the Internet Society.


About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 330 organizations are Members of the Consortium.


IETF/ISOC Contacts
Mona Peloquin, <>, +1.202.326.1728
Keith Moore, <>, +1.423.974.3126
Fred Baker, <>, +1.408.526.4257
W3C Contacts:
Janet Daly, <>, +1.617.253.5884
Europe: Ned Mitchell, <>, +; or Andrew Lloyd,<>, +
Asia: Yuko Watanabe, <>, +81.466.49.1170

Testimonials for HTTP 1.1 Becoming IETF Draft Standard


HTTP/1.1 is a prime example of an open, consensus-based Web standard whose existence can help grow the commercial Internet to the shared benefit of everyone. Compaq is proud to have played a central role in HTTP/1.1's creation.

--Bill Strecker, Senior Vice President & Chief Technical Officer, Compaq Computer Corporation


For us at DataChannel, HTTP/1.1 is a great step forward. Our entire product line relies on HTTP and we are extremely excited to see the potential of improved performance, stability and security.

--Norbert Mikula, Chief Technology Officer, DataChannel


As co-authors of the HTTP/1.1 specification, we're pleased to see the W3C work together with the IETF to move this core Web protocol forward. HTTP/1.1 benefits all users by improving performance and security on the Web while maintaining interoperability. We deliver industry-leading implementations of HTTP/1.1 today in our client platform (Windows Internet Explorer) and server platform (Windows NT Server, Information Server and Proxy Server).

--Mark Ryland, Director of Standards Activities, Microsoft Corporation


Phoenix Technologies is delighted to recognize W3C's efforts in making HTTP/1.1 an IETF draft standard. Phoenix recognizes this HTTP/1.1 as an important step toward better security and improved performance for the global web community. As a company renowned for helping establish and implement industry standards, Phoenix can truly appreciate the impact that the HTTP/1.1 work will have in further broadening the Internet's appeal as the preferred medium for the flow of information, goods and services.

--Laurent Gharda, Vice President of Marketing, Phoenix Technologies, LTD


We are very pleased to see that HTTP/1.1 has become an IETF Draft Standard. In our view, digest authentication is an especially important component of this specification, amd we urge browser vendors to implement the full standard, and in particular Digest authentication, as soon as possible.

--Michael Smith, Technology Architect, TIAA-CREF


W3C celebrates the arrival of HTTP 1.1 as IETF Draft Standard, and is pleased to have contributed resources to its development and implementation. Products which use HTTP 1.1 have been demonstrated to run signficantly faster than those which do not; I urge everyone to check for HTTP 1.1 compliance when choosing software.

-- Tim Berners-Lee, Director, World Wide Web Consortium


HTTP/1.1 solves a complex problem caused by the interaction of the often conflicting goals of Web clients, caches, proxies, and servers. Individuals from industry and research institutions around the world cooperated to resolve hundreds of technical and editorial issues with the HTTP/1.1 specification. The result improves the utility of HTTP for a growing variety of Internet-scale applications, while retaining compatibility with the wide heterogenous base of Web clients and servers.

-- Larry Masinter, Xerox Corporation, Palo Alto Research Center

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