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12 March 2012, 10:17

Twitter gets SPDY web pages

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Twitter has started to use Google's SPDY protocol for handling web requests from browsers that understand the alternative to HTTP. Although not formally announced, a Twitter engineer posted a screenshot showing that the protocol was enabled on Twitter's API. SPDY started life in 2009 as an experiment to speed up the web by using one request instead of multiple HTTP requests and enabling encryption and compression by default. Google introduced SPDY in Chrome and Chromium and then to many Google web sites.

The protocol has been submitted to the IETF as a possible future standard. The use of the protocol on Twitter is the first major deployment outside Google, other than Amazon's use of SPDY in communications between its servers and the Kindle Fire.

SPDY screenshot
The green flash means SPDY is being used
One thing with SPDY is that it does not announce itself in those browsers though, preferring to only display https: as the protocol, so many SPDY users do not realise they are using it. Thanks, though, to a new open source plugin for Chrome, Chrome SPDY Indicator, it is possible to see when SPDY is being used.

The only browsers implementing and enabling SPDY support at the moment are Google's Chrome and Chromium; Firefox 11, due to be released tomorrow, has SPDY support but that is disabled by default (to enable it, users will have to go to about:config, search for network.http.spdy.enabled and set it to true). Mozilla's Chris Blizzard, director of Web Platform at Mozilla, says Firefox 13 should see the protocol enabled by default. An extension inspired by the Chrome SPDY Indicator is already available for installation on the Mozilla Add-Ons ready for Firefox 11.


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