Nginx to hop on HTTP/2 train

Open source Web server's backing for newest version of the fundamental Web protocol will improve Web performance, official says

Nginx to hop on HTTP/2 train
Credit: Oktaviono, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

Nginx, the popular open source Web server, will be fitted with support for the HTTP/2 protocol soon, offering the potential for faster Web experiences.

This support is anticipated in the next couple of months in open source and commercial releases, said Peter Guagenti, Nginx marketing vice president, during an interview at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) in Portland on Thursday.

The successor to the original HTTP protocol, HTTP/2 overcomes technical limitations of the original, and it improves security and performance. For Nginx sites, HTTP/2 means better support for users not in close proximity to an installation's servers or who are on mobile connections. "HTTP/2 offers some changes that have a potential to accelerate Web experiences, especially when you're looking at users who are far-flung around the world and users on mobile devices," Guagenti said.

Nginx, Guagenti pointed out, already supports SPDY, which has served as a basis for HTTP/2. But the upcoming Nginx releases offer additional features such as the ability to manage HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 off the same Web server. Developers and administrators will be better able to understand traffic between HTTP/1 and HTTP/2.

Also on the road map -- but not necessarily in the next releases -- is improved security, specifically around Web application firewall capabilities and DDoS (distributed denial of service) protection. The company is getting pressure from customers to weave security more tightly into the core of application as opposed to having it bolted on, he said.

The Nginx road map also features dynamic modules. Right now, if users want to add a module to Nginx, they have to compile it into the code. "[With dynamic modules], you'll be able to load in modules without shutting down the application," said Guagenti. Nginx supports modules for capabilities such as Lua scripting, load balancing, advanced caching, and streaming media. The Nginx core is kept very light while users strap on modules as needed.

In addition, Nginx is continuing with plans to expand scripting capabilities to include JavaScript. This would let Nginx unlock dynamic configuration capabilities for a larger audience, according to Guagenti. "It adds a ton more capability than what's available in Lua [scripting] today."

JavaScript is attractive because Web developers know how to use it, Guagenti said. "We think JavaScript is the most approachable [language] for the largest audience." JavaScript backing will be in Nginx within the next year.

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