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Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a communications protocol. Its use for retrieving inter-linked text documents (hypertext) led to the establishment of the World Wide Web. HTTP is a request/response standard between a client and a server. A client is the end-user, the server is the web site.
The client making a HTTP request -using a web browser, spider, or other end-user tool- is referred to as the user agent. The responding server -which stores or creates resources such as HTML files and images- is called the origin server.
In between the user agent and origin server may be several intermediaries, such as proxies, gateways, and tunnels. HTTP is not constrained to using TCP/IP and its supporting layers, although this is its most popular application on the Internet. Indeed HTTP can be "implemented on top of any other protocol on the Internet, or on other networks. HTTP only presumes a reliable transport; any protocol that provides such guarantees can be used." Typically, an HTTP client initiates a request.
It establishes a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection to a particular port on a host (port 80 by default; see List of TCP and UDP port numbers). An HTTP server listening on that port waits for the client to send a request message. Upon receiving the request, the server sends back a status line, such as "HTTP/1.1 200 OK", and a message of its own, the body of which is perhaps the requested file, an error message, or some other information.
Other protocols and interfaces