Slow Down on SPDY?


An important FOSS developer calls for a reset on efforts to build Google's SPDY protocol into HTTP 2.0.

A prominent FOSS programmer has called for a reset of the adoption process for the new HTTP 2.0 web protocol. Poul-Henning Kamp, who is most closely associated with the FreeBSD project but also supports Linux, is the lead developer for the Varnish cache HTTP accelerator and a participant in the World Wide Web Consortium's HTTP working group. In a recent post to the HTTP Working Group list, Kamp argues that the process for developing the HTTP 2.0 standard has so far been driven more by time constraints than the desire to achieve the best possible outcome.
In 2012, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) adopted Google's SPDY protocol as a basis for building the next generation web protocol, HTTP 2.0. The goal of the HTTP process is to fix some underlying problems with the current standard (HTTP 1.1) but still retain compatibility with HTTP 1.1 syntax. Google's experimental SPDY protocol was adopted for its reported performance improvements and a more sophisticated session management architecture. Among the benefits of SPDY is that the user interacts with the web server through a single TCP channel, reducing the overhead for sending and receiving control information.
Kamp argues that SPDY was "a very good and worthwhile prototype" but said the integration and adoption into HTTP 2.0 has been a "fiasco" driven by a tight schedule for 2.0 adoption. He states that working group has "wasted a lot of time and effort trying to goldplate over the warts and mistakes" in SPDY. He credits the SPDY protoype with demonstrating the need for improvement in HTTP 1.1, but quotes famous writer and computer scientist Fred Brooks (author of The Mythical Man-Month) with the adage "Always throw the prototype away."
The fact of a public debate about a standards process is not unusual (debate one of the whole reasons for the standards process), however, in light of current controversies regarding privacy and cyrptography on the web, this call to slow down could find a ready audience with other developers and decision makers in the web standards community.


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