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13 December 2011, 10:43

WebSockets becomes proposed standard

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WebSockets and the WebSocket Protocol have made the jump from development to being a proposed specification. The WebSocket Protocol is now proposed as IETF's RFC 6455. The WebSocket protocol is designed to allow a browser or other client to establish reliable two-way communication with a web server without using multiple HTTP requests. Christopher Blizzard, Director of Web Platform at Mozilla, tweeted "WebSockets is now an RFC. That was kind of a long trip." The first draft of the WebSockets RFC appeared in May 2010 after originating from work done at WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group).

Other web technologies for keeping a communication channel open with a web server have involved sending multiple XMLHttpRequests to the server or attempting to keep a normal HTTP connection open for as long as possible. Such solutions have the drawbacks of additional complexity, reduced reliability and increased load on the web server and client. A WebSocket application can, instead, open a single connection to the server and exhange information over that one connection, reducing the load on the web server.

WebSockets are available at some level in most current desktop browsers, except for Internet Explorer where it is due to be fully supported in version 10 and already has an experimental implementation. iOS Safari and Opera Mobile also have partial support for WebSockets.

The WebSockets RFC has appeared along with RFC 6454, the Web Origin Concept, which sets out to define the concept of "origin" on the web. This is already applied, for example, to stop cross-site scripting attacks, and to define how to determine and store "origin" as a string. It is referred to within the WebSockets RFC.


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