The internet is an expansive body of work, whose ever-changing facets cannot be credited to one single entity or person. Dozens of pioneering engineers, programmers, and scientists have all contributed to technologies and features that have become our modern information superhighway. The idea of the internet existed in the mind of Nikola Tesla in the early 1900s who called it a world wireless system.
Practical schematics for mass information sharing came up in the 1960s, with “packet switching” a new method of transmitting electronic data laying the backbone of the internet. Packet switching would break down data into small manageable packets or data chunks to speed up its transfer. If a device sends a file via the packet switching method, the device would first break that file down into packets with each packet getting a header.
The origins of HTTP
Each header would indicate the devices’ IP address, the number of packets to the destination address, destination IP address and the packets’ sequence number. Packet switching can cause packet loss as chunks of data bounce between routers on their way to the IP address of the receiving device.
The scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn came up with the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP ) in the 70s, setting standards for data transmission between numerous networks. TCP has since then become the standard transport layer protocol for the internet.
The invention of the World Wide Web in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee introduced hypertext, a system of data transmission via links. Berners-Lee used the TCP/IP protocol to create a World Wide Web linked with typed links in a large hypertext database. This is how the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) became the application-layer protocol for the internet.
What is HTTP?
The TCP/IP protocol manages data transmission in the network layer of the internet. Through it, routers can direct traffic between local networks to external networks efficiently. So what is the purpose of HTTP? Whereas TCP/IP protocols can connect devices from various locations around the world, via web server software HTTP, an application layer protocol helps the user to browse the web.
There are many other application-layer protocols out there including IMAP, SMTP, and POP3 but HTTP is the most commonly used on the internet. HTTP has a message-based design that allows you to make HTTP requests to a server on the web. Through this protocol, the web server will respond to your query with information that will be displayed on your device’s browser.
Furthermore, there is a type of proxies called HTTP proxies. However, in this article, we are digging deeper into HTTP basics, so if you are interested in this topic, this website explains it perfectly.
How HTTP works
Now that you know the purpose of HTTP, it is also important to understand how the protocol works. First, HTTP is stateless. That means all requests carried on it have to hold enough information to ensure that requests are fulfilled. Interactions on this protocol operate by requests and responses.
The anatomy of an HTTP request
- There are different types of HTTP requests, which include GET, POST, PUT and DELETE requests. Each HTTP request has URL addresses.
- HTTP messages have headers flowed by a message body. The body has all the data sent by the requestor received as a response.
- An HTTP request will have three main items including the HTTP method used such as GET, the requested URL, and the HTTP version in use.
- The request will also have additional information such as its host, user agent, referrer, and cookie headers.
The anatomy of an HTTP response
- The HTTP response also has three main items, which include the HTTP version in use, the number code of the request and the text information of the request’s number code.
- The response also consists of a number of headers, which include the server, set-cookie, and content-length headers, and a message body.
Types of HTTP headers
The HTTP request and response design are made up of components such as its first line headers and body. The HTTP header comes after the first line items. Headers have a name and a value pair separated by a colon.
The purpose of HTTP headers is to relay other message parameters alongside the request or responses. The four main types of HTTP headers include request, general and response and entity-headers.
How to optimize HTTP headers when scraping data
HTTP headers sent by the browser or web server can be optimized when scraping for online data to cut down the chances of IP blocking. Optimizing headers can additionally enhance the data scraping process retrieved from information databases.
Most businesses simply utilize proxy IP rotation tools when scraping to get over various data mining impediments. HTTP header optimization can enhance these other scraping mechanisms.
Optimizing HTTP headers when scraping
- Alter the User-Agent request header to portray organic use activity from multiple sessions
- Ensure that the Accept-Language header is relevant to that of the client’s geo-location
- Optimize the Accept-Encoding header to cut down on traffic loads
- Configure the Accept request header to match the format of the webserver
- Set up the Referral header in advance to imitate the behaviors of organic traffic.
By optimizing HTTP headers, your business can perform efficient and high-quality data mining scrapers with fewer chances of a hindrance. Now that you also understand the purpose of HTTP and its headers, use this knowledge to your scraping advantage