REVIEW - HTTP - The Definitive Guide



The Definitive Guide


David Gourley, Brian Totty, Marjorie Sayer, Anshu Aggarwal, Sailu Reddy



O'Reilly (2002)




Roger N Lever


June 2003



This is a book about HTTP, which describes the various aspects to allow the reader to understand web internals. The book is composed of six parts:

1) HTTP: The Web's Foundation (HTTP, URL, resources, messages, connections...)
2) HTTP Architecture (web servers, proxies, caches, robots, gateways...)
3) Identification, Authorisation and security (basic, digest, secure...)
4) Entities, Encodings and Internationalisation (entities, encoding...)
5) Content Publishing and Distribution (web hosting, publishing...)
6) Appendices (URI, Status Codes, Header Reference, MIME types...)

The authors have produced a very clear and easily read text that explains the protocol and how it works along with some of the core Internet technologies. There are plenty of diagrams to help clarify the processes and to ensure that the reader can see how everything works. Interspersed within various parts of the text are snippets of code that illustrate a particular point. These code snippets are typically in Perl or C. However, for programmers there are not enough code examples to be used as a programmer's reference guide.

At just over six hundred pages there is plenty of room to cover the topic and the authors have made a good attempt to explain the various different areas in a clear and understandable way. For those who wish to gain an understanding of HTTP then it will undoubtedly be useful. However, the book will not provide enough code for programmers or discuss some of the protocols that have been built on top of or around HTTP such as HTML, XML or SOAP. So for its target audience, those who wish to understand HTTP, it will provide a useful and clear guide.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.