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Learn HTTP protocols with online courses and programs

HTTP protocols are application-level protocols that form the basis for data communication on the World Wide Web. Learn about HTTP protocols with online courses delivered through edX.

What are HTTP protocols?

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a stateless protocol that retrieves requested resources like HTML documents in response to a valid request. Along with HTML, HTTP was one of the first technologies used to develop an interactive, text-based web browser, the World Wide Web.Footnote 1 

As a client-server protocol, it is the backbone of all information transfer on the internet, with requests initiated by the client browser window.Footnote 2 Since HTTP protocols are quite adaptive, you can retrieve hypertext documents and multimedia content and upload HTML form results to servers.Footnote 3

Developers are expected to have a firm grasp of HTTP and HTTPS protocols. Taking the time to learn HTTP protocols may help improve your skills and help you understand most web application vulnerabilities. 

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HTTP protocols course curriculum

An introductory HTTP protocols course can teach learners about the protocol's background and history and give an overview of HTTP, including instruction on how to send and receive HTTP requests and responses, the fundamentals of URL and URI syntax, the format and structure of HTTP messages, HTTP cache, cookies, and client hints.

Once you've mastered the basics, you might progress to intermediate coursework that delves into:

  • HTTP headers and their functions

  • Connection management

  • HTTP request methods such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE

  • HTTP status codes and their meanings

  • Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)

  • Web security guidelines, Content-Security-Policy directives, and layer security

In an advanced HTTP protocols tutorial, you may learn about caching mechanisms, WebSockets and long polling, and HTTP-based APIs.

Start building the knowledge you need with edX. From accelerated boot camps to comprehensive programs that allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree, there are a range of options available to fit your needs. Busy professionals can take advantage of executive education courses tailored to those in leadership and management positions. 

Explore jobs that use HTTP protocols

Many professions require familiarity with HTTP protocols, including:

  • Web developer: Creates and deploys dynamic web content, including websites, applications, database interfaces, and database-driven web interfaces.Footnote 4 

  • Software developer: Performs analysis, creates prototypes, and codes general or specialized utility software for computers and networks. They apply principles and techniques from mathematical analysis, computer science, and engineering to analyze user needs and develop software solutions.Footnote 5

  • Network engineer: Designs and constructs data communication networks. These networks may include intranets, wide area networks (WANs), and local area networks (LANs).Footnote 6

  • Quality assurance analyst: Creates and runs software tests to locate software flaws and their origins. They also use a bug tracking system to record software and application flaws and then notify the appropriate people to fix them.Footnote 7

  • Cybersecurity analyst: Safeguards data and computer networks by designing, implementing, upgrading, or tracking security measures. They also identify security flaws in the system and suggest countermeasures to address them.Footnote 8

  • Computer support specialist: Offers users direct technical support with diagnostic performance on preexisting LANs, WANs, and internet infrastructure, in addition to routine maintenance and troubleshooting.Footnote 9

A wide variety of technology-related careers can benefit from familiarity with HTTP protocols . If you wish to pursue jobs like information security analyst, you can get started with an online cybersecurity boot camp to expand your knowledge in that area and deepen your understanding of the connection between digital security and HTTP protocols. On the other hand, enrolling in a coding boot camp can introduce learners to the fundamentals of programming, enabling them to better understand the principles and mechanisms behind web communication.

How to use HTTP protocols in your career

Various career paths, such as those in networking, web development, and cybersecurity, are rooted in a deep understanding of HTTP protocols. Knowledge of HTTP protocols can help you fulfill various responsibilities throughout your career, including optimizing website performance, ensuring website security, and troubleshooting network issues. 

For example, web developers possess expertise in utilizing different HTTP methods, error codes, and headers to effectively build and manage websites. Additionally, roles like network engineering may require you to design and administer networks and know how to identify and fix HTTP traffic-related network problems.Footnote 10

As a cybersecurity analyst, you may be responsible for fixing and preventing common attacks, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), HTTP request smuggling, and misconfigurations.Footnote 11 You can use your knowledge of HTTP and HTTPS protocols to track and encrypt all web traffic, protecting sensitive data and improving your workflow as a professional.

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