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Understanding How the Web Works: O'Reilly Releases "HTTP: The Definitive Guide"

October 29, 2002

Sebastopol, CA--Behind every successful web transaction lurks the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the language by which web clients and servers exchange documents and information. While the average web user can remain blissfully unaware of the dozens of HTTP transactions required to download a web page, understanding HTTP is essential for practically all web-based programming and administration. And now, with the increasing emphasis on web services, which depend heavily on HTTP for interapplication communication, a firm understanding of HTTP is absolutely indispensable. To help those who need to understand this versatile and universal protocol, O'Reilly's latest release, HTTP: The Definitive Guide (Gourley, Totty, Sayer, Reddy, and Aggarwal, US $44.95), gives a complete and detailed description of HTTP and how it shapes the landscape of the Web.

"The Web is no longer just for browsing," says coauthor David Gourley. "Web technology is a foundation for all sorts of critical networked applications. This book should be an excellent, widely accessible guide to HTTP and the internals of web systems for internet professionals of all flavors--including engineering, marketing, technical support, technical writing--students, and hobbyists."

"Our book isn't just an HTTP header reference manual," adds coauthor Brian Totty. "It's a veritable bible of web architecture. It illustrates common misconceptions, advises on 'tricks of the trade,' provides convenient reference material, and serves as a readable introduction to dry and confusing standards specifications. In a single book, we have detailed the essential and inter-related technologies that make the Web work."

As the title suggests, "HTTP: The Definitive Guide" explains the HTTP protocol: how it works and how to use it to develop web-based applications. However, the book is not just about HTTP; it's also about the other core internet technologies that HTTP depends on to work effectively. Although HTTP is at the center of the book, the essence of "HTTP: The Definitive Guide" is in understanding how the Web works and how to apply that knowledge to web programming and administration. The book explains the technical workings, motivations, performance considerations, and objectives of the HTTP and the technologies around which it revolves.

Topics in the book include:

  • HTTP methods, headers, and status code
  • Optimizing proxies and caches
  • Strategies for designing web robots and crawlers
  • Cookies, authentication, and secure HTTP
  • Internationalization and content negotiation
  • Redirection and load-balancing strategies

Technical professionals doing internet software development and architecture, IT professionals who need to understand internet architectural components and interactions, technical marketing professionals who need a clear picture of core web architectures and protocols, as well as untold numbers of students and hobbyists will all benefit from the knowledge packed in this volume. "HTTP: The Definitive Guide" is an essential toolkit that no technically inclined member of the internet community should be without.

Additional resources:

HTTP: The Definitive Guide
David Gourley and Brian Totty
with Marjorie Sayer, Sailu Reddy, and Anshu Aggarwal
ISBN 1-56592-509-2, 635 pages, $44.95 (US), $69.95 (CAN)
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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