The Anatomy of a HTTP Request

Room 1
Time Slot: 

Typing in a URL? Requesting a file? How about making an API call? At the core of these requests is the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is such an integral part of the web that understanding it, even just a little, can lend insight in to any number of troubleshooting issues.

Lets explore what makes up a HTTP request. Lets talk about the difference between a GET and POST request, the responses we can expect and what tools are available out there.

Prerequisite Knowledge for this Session: A basic knowledge of using the web.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol or HTTP is at the base of every web request. We see this when we request a file asynchronously or when we make an API call to a web service, or simply just type an URL in to our browser. This session will help to begin to dig further in to what makes up these requests.

We’ll start off answering the following questions:

- What is HTTP?
- The parts of a URL
- What is the difference between a GET and a POST request?
- What are the different parts of a request?
- What do the return codes mean? How do I know if my request was successful?

After a run through of the basics we can jump even further in to it and we will begin to scratch the surface of the following:

- How to craft our own HTTP request using curl
- How to keep an eye on the HTTP requests we are making via browser plugins such as firebug or live httpd headers.

The takeaway is a better understanding of how HTTP requests work and what to look for when things are not acting right.