Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » H »

HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol

Short for HyperText Transfer Protocol, HTTP is 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: A Stateless Protocol

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.

HTTP Status Codes

Errors on the Internet can be quite frustrating — especially if you do not know the difference between a 404 error and a 502 error. These error messages, also called HTTP status codes are response codes given by Web servers and help identify the cause of the problem.

For example, "404 File Not Found" is a common HTTP status code. It means the Web server cannot find the file you requested. The file -- the webpage or other document you try to load in your Web browser --  has either been moved or deleted, or you entered the wrong URL or document name.

Knowing the meaning of the HTTP status code can help you figure out what went wrong. On a 404 error, for example, you could look at the URL to see if a word looks misspelled, then correct it and try it again. If that doesn't work backtrack by deleting information between each backslash, until you come to a page on that site that isn't a 404. From there you may be able to find the page you're looking for.

Learn more about the common HTTP status codes in this Webopedia Quick Reference article.







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
DID YOU KNOW?
Have We Become a World of Addicts?

It's hard to imagine our lives without smartphones. But people who suffer separation anxiety when they don't have their phones nearby may be in... Read More »

13 Best Free Android Apps

From secure messaging to document editing, our top free must-have apps have been rated, reviewed and named the best free Android apps of 2015. Read More »

The Five Generations of Computers

Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the current devices that we use today. Read More »

QUICK REFERENCE
29 Free Android Apps for Cash-Strapped Students

From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »

Network Fundamentals Study Guide

A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »

Computer Architecture Study Guide

This Webopedia  study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »