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Google's SPDY blamed for slowing HTTP 2.0 development

Working group contemplates packing it in and moving to HTTP 3.0

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The HTTP 2.0 working group appears to be in crisis, with work on integrating Google's SPDY HTTP-boosting protocol blamed for taking the project off the rails.

The accusation comes from prominent FreeBSD developer Poul-Henning Kamp, whose post to the working group's mailing list calls for work on the protocol to be abandoned.

Kamp believes SPDY is to blame for the problems, as while the working group first thought adopting the protocol would mean “we get HTTP/2.0 almost for free” proper examination of Google's code has revealed “numerous hard problems that SPDY doesn't even get close to solving, and that we will need to make some simplifications in the evolved HTTP concept if we ever want to solve them.”

The Internet Engineering Task Force included SPDY in the draft HTTP 2.0 spec in December 2012, presumably because the cunning client-server interactions it offers represented a chance to improve web server performance. Such a supposition is not unreasonable as Google eats its own dogfood with SPDY: the ad-slinger's Chrome browser can use it and Google servers respond in kind when it is detected.

Kamp writes that, in his opinion, the working group has “wasted a lot of time and effort trying to goldplate over the warts and mistakes” in SPDY. The result, he argues, isn't worth completing, never mind releasing, because it won't properly address the issues that a next-generation HTTP standard should usefully do.

He therefore calls for the HTTP 2.0 process to be abandoned in favour of a newly-defined HTTP 3.0 project, because “Now even the WG chair publically admits that the result is a qualified fiasco and that we will have to replace it with something better 'sooner'.”

The chair Kamp refers to is Mark Nottingham, who, in this post calls for rapid action to get HTTP 2.0 ready. Evidence of him declaring the development process a fiasco is harder to come by, although the working group's mailing list is a little more fractious than others in your correspondent's experience.

The working group meets in New York City next week to review its progress. The meeting could be a fun one to observe! ®

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