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HTTP Developer's Handbook

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the spitting-back-responses dept.

Programming 206

honestpuck writes "To say that understanding HTTP is crucial for web development might seem like saying water is wet, yet many people don't take the time to fully understand the protocol. This book could be a good help. HTTP Developer's Handbook from SAMS gives you a great deal of information about the protocol in a clearly understood fashion." Read on for the rest of honestpuck's review.

One of the strangest feelings I've ever had reading a book is that I have a better opinion of it than does the author. Shiflett spends most of the introduction convincing the reader that this is a useful book and it seems that the start of most chapters is another few sentences telling me why the chapter is incredibly useful for me to read. I felt like yelling "I'm convinced, I'm convinced."

The book is broken up into 6 parts: 'Introducing HTTP,' 'HTTP Definition,' 'Maintaining State,' 'Performance,' 'Security,' and 'Evolution of HTTP.'

The first section and a large part of the introduction are the sort of information that is covered elsewhere in just as good a detail: it basically covers the obvious. The second section covers the HTTP protocol itself, with a good discussion of requests and responses, including all the nitty gritty details of the headers in some detail. This is the really useful heart of the book and it covers 80 of the 280 pages. The third, fourth and fifth sections give a too-concise look at their subject matter, I felt the book could have given much more detail here. The last section is a waste of space; in this volume I don't really need to have a small amount of information about SOAP and XML-RPC.

This book is well-written; I believe its two fatal flaws are that Shiflett seems unsure of his own book and that the book itself tries to offer everything for a developer while explaining it all for the newcomer. I think that had Shiflett given up on the newcomer and given the developer greater depth (with a lot more examples) he would have delivered a much better book. For a developer, the volume is much too light on example code, the book is not really 'practical,' more 'informative.'

This might be a good volume for a library, either a corporate or school library. It provides the salient information in one spot in a concise and readable manner. I think that an individual might find it a less than totally useful book for the money -- you're likely to have already have a volume or two that covers most of the information, and with most languages in web development having libraries that take care of most of the low-level stuff for you, it becomes less and less necessary to really understand the bottom level. Personally, I'll keep it for the 80 page section on the HTTP definition so I have it all in one spot.


You can purchase HTTP Developer's Handbook from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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w00r!~ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987103)

FP!

WILDCAT IS ON TEH SPOKE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987106)

$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (-1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987107)

Re:$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (4, Informative)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987268)

Same link minus the ccats-20 crap. Why bother to even post anonymously?
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0672324547/ [amazon.com]

inertia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987326)

i have a feeling this amazon dummy is inertia@yahoo.com some observation will help confirm the facts.

Re:$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987332)

I wonder how much he actually makes doing that. I bet it's a significant amount.

Re:$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987382)

I reported ccats-20 to Amazon spam police, saying his link overwhelmed the message boards. So the money amount he made is probably declining heavily right now towards $0.00.

Re:$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (1)

jbottero (585319) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987488)

So, basically, you lied?

Re:$12 CHEAPER and FREE SHIPPING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987691)

yeah, but for a noble cause.

funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987620)

That's funny....this guy is complaining about a slashvertisement amazon link and he's linking to his software company in his slashvertisement sig

honestly, i've had enough! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987117)

this honestpuck character posts book reviews every week!
has he made this his full-time job?

Re:honestly, i've had enough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987324)

Well, according to his personal Web site [honestpuck.com] , this Tuesday, September 16th, he started with 'Learning Perl Objects References & Modules', and this Wednesday, September 17th, he already started Practical mod_perl.

I barely understand the acronym... (5, Funny)

phamlen (304054) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987130)

Understand the protocol? Heck, I've been doing web development for 10 years and I can't even remember what the acronym means....

What does that second T stand for?

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (4, Informative)

Tennguin (553870) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987149)

HyperTextTransferProtocol

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987152)

Transfer.

-- Dr. Eldarion --

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (1)

AbdullahHaydar (147260) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987157)

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.... ...in other words you transfer hypertext files via this protocol...

Far too many web developers.... (5, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987276)

Far too many web developers forget what the FIRST T stands for....

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (2, Funny)

The_ForeignEye (681271) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987295)

Tedious

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (1)

alta (1263) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987322)

I think you don't understand what this book is about (or I don't.) Sounds to me like this book is for people who write webservers and the apps that tie into them. It's not for the site developer. In this case, you would be the end-user.

Re:I barely understand the acronym... (2, Interesting)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987399)

I'm assuming this is a joke, but I don't see where anyone caught the obvious. If you count Hyper and Text as 1 word (as several people seem to do), and you don't count them as a hyphenated word, then you get Hypertext Transfer Protocol...now what about that 2nd "T"? :)

w3c (4, Insightful)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987139)

why would i wanna "buy" a book, that has info that is already available on http://www.w3c.org [w3c.org] ?
You can also join the W3c mailing lists to get in-depth info on any of the technology stacks.

Re:w3c (0, Flamebait)

Serapth (643581) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987279)

I was thinking the exact same thing... what the hell would a book about HTTP teach you, that you cant already get for free at w3c?

That said... who really expected the book to be anything other then bad? Hell, its is SAMS we are talking about! Home of the Teach Yourself your an Idiot, in 24 Hours! series of books.

I long ago swore I would never again buy a book from SAMS press... and, unlike the time long ago when I swore I would never have another cigarette... Ive actually never bought another one of their crappy ass books! And I sleep better at night because of it.

So, in summary... if SAMS published it... it probrably sucks ass.
Cheers.

Re:w3c (4, Funny)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987305)

Teach Yourself your an Idiot, in 24 Hours!

If that was intentional, that was pure genius.

Otherwise, "Oh, The Irony."

Re:w3c (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987425)

Even more ironic is the messed-up bold tag.

Re:w3c (4, Insightful)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987461)

what the hell would a book about HTTP teach you, that you cant already get for free at w3c?

do you work for the riaa or something?

people buy books (and cd's) even though they can be garnered free over the 'net because:

  1. they are easy to read
  2. they are more portable
  3. they look good on yr shelf
  4. they are immutable. a book doesn't 404 you suddenly

Re:w3c (3, Insightful)

bmj (230572) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987349)

why would i wanna "buy" a book, that has info that is already available on http://www.w3c.org?

Because (and get ready for this, it's a bit shocking) some people actually prefer reading a book to staring a computer screen (and not everyone has access to a printer to make hardcopies of the w3c specs).

GASP!

Re:w3c (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987684)

Info on W3C may be extensive, but it's not very accessible. If you only have a good guess how things work, W3C specs won't be your thing. Wading through tons of BNF simply doesn't cut it if you need an "at a glance" hint how to cook your requests.

Not surprising the author didn't know his niche... (4, Insightful)

Ratface (21117) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987144)

If you think about it there are very few people who actually *need* to get down and dirty with the HTTP protocol itself. OK - most of those who do are probably reading this and I'll be shouted down, but in reality there aren't that many people who'll be jumping up and down saying "Wow! All I ever wanted to know about HTTP!!".

HTTP knowledge required? (4, Insightful)

nepheles (642829) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987151)

I'm not convinced that web-developers need a knowledge of HTTP. Even sessions can be handled very transparently with newer web-dev languages/dialects like PHP and JSP. Sure, it is a benefit to have an understanding, but the average developer is better off putting his work into understanding Dreamweaver or Photoshop.

Web-development does not require a knowledge of HTTP, and this is the way it should be. You shouldn't need to understand ASCII, etc., to use a word-processor.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (4, Funny)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987166)

Ha! The average web developer is would be even better off with a basic grasp of graphic design principles.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987192)

or UI design principles...

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987204)

There it is, one of the huge misconceptions. Web developers write code (most of them anyway, some of us do both)... it's the web designers who would be better off with a basic grasp of graphic design. That's like telling an electrical engineer that he should take some sculpting classes.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

sdibb (630075) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987230)

The problem with using Dreamweaver is you DON'T learn anything about HTTP. You learn Dreamweaver.

In my mind, it's safe to say that people who know how to use Dreamweaver, Frontpage or whatever, don't really *know* the languages the languages that programs use (PHP, JSP, etc). They can just wave their gui and get it done, but not know how it works.

And your analogy is flawed -- Of course you don't need to know ASCII to use a word processor, but we're talking about development, not usage. It's safe to say at the same time you don't need to know HTTP to browse the web.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1, Funny)

floop (11798) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987304)

I believe it should be required that you know HTTP to browse the web just like you should know how to change your own oil to be allowed to drive a car. You should also know how IP and DNS work. Unfortunately, the majority of people barely know how to read.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987360)

Yeah, totally. And you should be required to know how to farm before you're allowed to eat.
Have fun starving, ass.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (4, Informative)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987478)

Uhm ... you're forgetting something, I think.

HTTP has nothing to do with HTML, really. Dreamweaver obscures HTML; it has absolutely nothing to do with HTTP.

HTTP is the protocol by which files are transfered over the world wide web, it can be anything from images to music to HTML files.

Knowing in-depth the protocol information, as this book seems to try to teach, one can use languages such as PHP to specify additional headers for various effects. Have you ever seen pages that seem to be dynamic (php or cgi), and yet they send an image file? What about the ones that are used for cgi-based site counter images? Or, for that matter, link-tracking of file downloads (I think PHPNuke does this) - All of these types of scripts require at least a rudimentary knowledge of HTTP protocol headers.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (3, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987233)

Web-development does not require a knowledge of HTTP

Ever sent a file to a browser that is dynamically generated, and isn't an inline image or a html/txt page?

Or maybe you wanted to handle file uploads, while the languages have built in functions for handling them, those functions are usually pretty bad at handling anything special, or providing feedback to the user on the progress of the upload.

It helps to know HTTP. It's not one of those things you need to know, but without knowing it, you won't be able to do anything that the language developers didn't have planned for you.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (4, Insightful)

JimDabell (42870) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987238)

I'm not convinced that web-developers need a knowledge of HTTP.

For hobby sites, no. For proper sites, definitely. Far too many people build a site without any understanding of how the browser talks to the server. Common mistakes include:

  • Thinking web statistics are reliable.
  • Wasting bandwidth by massive amounts
  • Slowing down sites by not being able to take advantage of HTTP pipelining, more efficient caching, etc.
  • Thinking the Referer and User-Agent headers are reliable.
  • Trusting request variables.
  • Serving different content to different clients without providing a Vary header (in other words, letting caches screw things up).

It's not a trivial topic that can be glossed over. You could literally waste gigabytes of bandwidth a month on a high profile site (or single slashdotting) if you don't pay attention to the interaction between server and client. While it's certainly possible to build a site without knowing the first thing about HTTP, it shouldn't be encouraged.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (5, Interesting)

ceije (662080) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987419)

I'm not convinced that web-developers need a knowledge of HTTP.
For hobby sites, no. For proper sites, definitely. Far too many people build a site without any understanding of how the browser talks to the server.
I think that for a programmer or admin working on a web site of any size, it's good to have a basic understanding of HTTP. It's doubly important for those working on a large site. I work at a pretty heavily-trafficked web site and when we were looking for performance improvements, the first thing we did was look through Apache release notes. We found that an HTTP issue in the version of Apache we were running at the time caused graphics that were distributed across mutliple servers to be treated by web clients as different files, hence not cached.

By removing the inode portion of the entity tag (ETag) response in HTTP headers we were able to get a 40% reduction in files served because of client-side caching, which reduced the last byte page load times for most users, and allowed us to repurpose several web boxes to serve dynamic pages.

It was a really trivial fix that made a big difference to user experience.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987436)

I concur but I also think serious web-developers need a good knowledge of TCP/IP as well. Far too many do not have a clue about how features like congestion control/slow start will impact their designs.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987438)

For hobby sites, no. For proper sites, definitely. Far too many people build a site without any understanding of how the browser talks to the server.

But these kind of things are mostly dwarfed by making a site overly graphic-heavy. That's the number one problem. Make a site that's lean, and you're 90% of the way there.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (2, Interesting)

Khomar (529552) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987258)

I respectfully disagree. Afterall, the argument could be made that an understanding of HTML really isn't that important; rather the web developer should spend their time getting to know Dreamweaver or Frontpage. There are several problems with ignoring the basics. For one thing, when you find yourself in a situation where either the tool is unavailable or the tool cannot accomplish the desired effect, you have no idea how to proceed since there is no understanding of the framework (ie. A Frontpage designer trying to fix their HTML). Also, as fewer people understand the basics, there is less innovation and more inefficiencies. For example, knowing how memory allocation and character string structures work helps make string generation faster in code. If you didn't know any better, you might concatenate a string one character at a time not realizing the incredible inefficiency you have just caused. Libraries and tools are great for making our jobs easier, but having a knowledge of the basic building blocks is essential to know how to use those tools wisely.

Lastly, by understanding the basic framework of things, it also allows you to develop and design new improvements or innovations on the older ideas to increase capability or efficiency. If we forget the building blocks, we severely limit our potential down the road by locking ourselves into the inadaquacies of the past.

Education is never a bad thing. Ignorance is.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (2, Insightful)

websensei (84861) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987285)

I couldn't disagree more.
How about a fundamental understanding of cookies?
From the text:

Although cookies are most often described in conversation as if they are entities (for example, "a Web server sends you a cookie"), they are much easier to understand at a functional level if you consider them an extension of the HTTP protocol, which is actually more correct."

(Shiflett goes on to describe the Set-Cookie and Cookie headers.)

Relying on a given scripting language's manipulation of HTTP requests/responses without understanding what's actually going over the wire is a mistake.

By the same reasoning, it's also a mistake for a web developer to use WYSIWYG HTML editor like Dreamweaver, without understanding the markup that's being generated...

For your average web developer, reading this book (which should take just a couple sittings over one weekend) would be a worthwhile investment.

/$0.02

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987303)

If you saw some of the sniffs from stuff built by devs who don't know HTTP and then hear them wonder why their stuff is slow you would change your mind. If devs had a basic understanding of HTTP then maybe just maybe they would build stuff that did not use insane amounts or bandwidth.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987329)

Well...let me offer an example of how I think at least basic knowledge of HTTP is beneficial for web developers to understand.

A while back, one of our developers was coding a page (jhtml...the atg version of jsp...ugly!) that needed to conditionally redirect the user after checking certain session parameters. He couldn't figure out why the redirect wasn't happening. When he asked me to take a look, I noticed that there was an extra newline character at the top of the jhtml file. If I hadn't understood HTTP, I wouldn't have realized that that newline character was forcing the response object to output the HTTP header which would make redirecting the user impossible.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987367)

I'm quite proud to say that I don't know how to use dreamweaver, and I'm a web developer. I learned with notepad and pico, and I still code by hand (although now with Homesite).

I've been on interviews where I had to convince the interviewer that I was a competent developer, despite not knowing FP or dreamweaver.

Off the topic, can anyone recommend a good HTML editor for linux? Something like Homesite in terms of features (coloring, validation) would be nice.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987514)

[HTML editors for Linux]
"bluefish" and "screem" seem pretty good although I primarily use vim.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

xunil56 (702492) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987679)

emacs !!! easy to use and multiple things to do !!!

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (2, Informative)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987379)

I disagree. There are times when a web developer DOES need to get down and dirty with HTTP. I can think of two intances (off the top of my head) that I ran across:
  1. IE's disasterous handling of mime types and Content-Disposition
  2. Bug in IE client that was dropping packets. I had to view HTTP packets in ethereal to figure that one out
I found O'Reilly's HTTP: The Definitive Guide, 2002 invaluable for solving the first problem.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987513)

Was Mozilla invaluable in fixing the second one? :)

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

introverted (675306) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987503)

I'm not convinced that web-developers need a knowledge of HTTP.

My experience on that is mixed. If your site consists solely of nothing but static pages, then no, it's unlikely the intricacies of HTTP will ever come into play.

OTOH, if your site involves any sort of application with multiple trips between the server and the browser and you need to support multiple browsers, or you're running across a web farm (with or without load balancing), or your clients are using proxy servers,.... (Or any of a dozen other ORs I've overlooked).

If any of those conditions is true, then yes, sooner or later, you will need to deal with HTTP directly. Maybe something as simple as just viewing form data in a protocol sniffer, maybe something as complex as dealing with multiple vendors using slightly different interpretations of the protocol's minutae. Not every developer on the project will need to understand the protocol, but you'll be glad to have at least one person who does.

As they say, just my two cents worth.

Re:HTTP knowledge required? (1)

ReelOddeeo (115880) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987634)

Web-development does not require a knowledge of HTTP, and this is the way it should be.

Just as modern application development, apparently, requires no knowledge of programming or computer science.

People who have a deep mental model of the layers below the layer they work in tend to be much better developers. Why is it that these prople are always the problem solvers that everyone else goes to in any shop?

In-depth books are few & far between? (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987172)

It seems that more and more books that are coming out are geared for the novice... or perhaps, we're all just getting that much better? It's important to ask yourself how good you really are. I have found that there are practically no good resources for programming information above a certain level, i'd say Junior Programmer, other than the Knuth books or perhaps a few others. Anyone else know of any advanced topic books that are really good?

Re:In-depth books are few & far between? (1)

dukerobillard (582741) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987254)

All the W. Richard Stevens books. Those are the ones on my desk all the time.

Re:In-depth books are few & far between? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987363)

I've had pretty good luck with the big red wrox books.
(stay away from the ones with "beginning" printed on the spine)

Re:In-depth books are few & far between? (1)

ReelOddeeo (115880) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987677)

Advanced topic books really are hard to find in a sea of "me too" books aimed at novices. One book I remember well was titled Garbage Collection. (Don't have it handy, and don't remember author.) It is a big, expensive hard cover. Very through treatment of the subject. Another excellent book I remember was Peter Norvig's book on AI and Lisp in about '91 or thereabouts (sorry, don't remember exact title).

I wonder how many people will see this book on HTTP and get excited thinking it is another book that will allow them to create web pages without having to understand anything technical?

As always, "a good reference" (5, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987173)

Not to troll here, but why does every book review here conclude with the reviewer's assertion that the book they reviewed is a good reference?

After reading the mostly-negative review, how am I supposed to believe that it is in fact "a good volume"? The reviewer even says that most people would find it to be a waste of money!

What does it take for a reviewer to come out and declare "THIS BOOK ISN'T WORTH THE PAPER IT IS PRINTED ON"??

Slashdot won't let them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987337)

If they did then no one would click the Barnes and Noble link with the Slashdot referral code in it.

Re:As always, "a good reference" (2, Funny)

yamcha666 (519244) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987362)

What does it take for a reviewer to come out and declare "THIS BOOK ISN'T WORTH THE PAPER IT IS PRINTED ON"??

Ummm ... no check from the publisher?

Re:As always, "a good reference" (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987574)

A less cynical answer would be that result driven people, which I assume are many if not most of the people who actually have money to buy books like this, are interested in knowing which books will help them achieve results. Therefore, the reviews that get published are of those books that might be helpful.

/. is, after all, not a literary site where we analyze literature to within an inch of it's life. Of course, we have those that think by knowing how to spell and conjugate verbs make them literate, but that not necessarily the case.

The specifics of HTTP are not vital knowledge (5, Interesting)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987176)

Every developer should be forced to write a simple HTTP server just so that they understand the basic mechanisms of the protocol. But the full details go way, way beyond what I'd expect someone on my team to know (or spend time learning) unless they were writing a server, a HTTP client, or low-level HTTP interface functions.

An efficient developer is one who is protected from the details of the technical world, and who can spend his energy and time on the functional aspects of his problem.

That's my conclusion after 20 years of (mainly successful) software projects.

Finally, no spoilers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987182)

I was prepared to have the reviewer reveal whether it was a get or a post in the first paragraph.

On another point, is six thumbs up the lowest ever in a Slashdot review?

My Book Report, by honestpuck (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987183)

Fellow Slashdotters, prepare to be dazzled! Well, as Timothy already mentioned, the name of the book that I read was HTTP Developer's Handbook. It's about these ... protocols. HTTPD ... with requests ... and ... responses ... and XML-RPC ... Did I mention this book was written by a guy named Chris Shiflett? And published by the good people at Developer's Library/SAMS. So, in conclusion, on the Slashdot scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, one being the lowest, and five being average, I give this book ... a six. Any questions? Nope? Then I'll just sit down.

Good Review (3, Insightful)

Khomar (529552) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987185)

Shiflett spends most of the introduction convincing the reader that this is a useful book and it seems that the start of most chapters is another few sentences telling me why the chapter is incredibly useful for me to read. I felt like yelling "I'm convinced, I'm convinced."

This may have been the first sign of trouble. I always hate it when salespeople or authors waste my time telling me what I already have grasped and understood. After a while, I start to question whether I really should be interested it in anymore if they are so concerned that I won't be.

I think I will try to check this out at the library for a quick refresher course, but it doesn't sound like one to add to my own library. It is good to see an honest review that doesn't immediately gush with adoration and praise while glossing over the flaws. While another poster questioned the frequency of reviews from honestpuck, the quality of this review leads me to ask him to keep up the good work.

Re:Good Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987350)

Reminds me of amateur public speakers who talk for 10-15 minutes about a subject, but keep throwing in "I will be talking about... >" type phrases throughout. They don't seem to realize that the are ALREADY talking about the subject, NOT introducing it.

*shudder* (2, Funny)

inkedmn (462994) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987186)

shouldn't there be a time frame given for how long it will take you to learn? how the hell am i supposed to give my client an accurate lead time if i can't tell him (10 Minutes | 24 Hours | 21 Days)!?!?

what a crock... :)

it was worth the $ (4, Informative)

websensei (84861) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987191)

this was a great book as an overview, and as a quick reference for details on http headers.

it's eminently readable, and while I agree w the reviewer that it's light on examples, the writing is clear enough that in most cases, examples would be redundant.

very little filler and very readable, easy to read in 1 or 2 sittings and come away with a much better handle on the underpinnings and details of the request/response model. the web is not as well understood by page authors / web developers as it should be, and this is an excellent book to help remedy the situation.

I give it a solid 7/10 and am glad I read it.
it's within easy reach on my shelf....

Re:it was worth the $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987296)

You didn't actually read the book, did you?

This post just reeks of a slightly more creative version of the ever-popular "book review template" troll.

Mods bought it though, so good show!

Re:it was worth the $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987334)

I shouldn't bother to reply to your troll, but:

(1) yes I did read it, about 2 months ago right after it came out. I found it useful, and figured I'd share my opinion w the /. crowd

(2) I did not get modded up, I just didn't block my karma +1 bonus.

(3) might want to use your time to contribute something positive, eh?

Re:it was worth the $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987340)

You are an idiot.

You DID get modded up, retard.

Re:it was worth the $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987355)

yes, I am a redundantly retarded idiot.
have a nice day =)

like saying what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987205)

To say that understanding HTTP is crucial for web development might seem like saying water is wet


no, it's like saying "To be able to drink water you must first understand the various ways in which hydrogen and oxygen can combine"



Re:like saying what? (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987353)

no, it's like saying "To be able to drink water you must first understand the various ways in which hydrogen and oxygen can combine"

Sage words in this dangerous day. Imaging Drinking 101:

See these two hydrogens and one oxygen? Drink that.
See these two hydrogens and two oxygens? DON'T DRINK THAT!
Now, throw in some carbon:
Two carbons, six hydrogens, one oxygen: Drink that (carefully, preferably well hopped and poured slow).
One carbon, four hydrogens, one oxygen: Don't drink that (thin paint with it though).

Re:like saying what? (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987446)

Not quite. Saying "To be able to drink water you must first understand the various ways in which hydrogen and oxygen can combine" is like saying "To browse the internet you need a complete understanding of HTTP".

A closer analogy would be "To be able to mix Kool-ade, you must first understand the various ways in which hydrogen and oxygen can combine"

Re:like saying what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987611)

Not quite. Saying "To be able to drink water you must first understand the various ways in which hydrogen and oxygen can combine" is like saying "To browse the internet you need a complete understanding of HTTP".

maybe so, but using HTTP in an analogy to describe an analogy already using HTTP is like saying water is wet.


Just write your own web server (5, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987207)

Just write your own web server, in whatever language. You will become intimately familiar with the HTTP protocol. That is if you implement form processing, cookies, and multi-part encodings and such.

-josh

Troll alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987385)

Thank you whoever modified this cretin down between my reading his post and this reply. To the original poster: to learn French, write a novel in that language. You will become intimately familiar with the French language. That is if you use vocubalary, grammar, and idiom and such.

Re:Just write your own web server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987479)

Cookies are nowt todo with servers, nobhead.

Verisign Petition (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987249)



http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cg i? icanndns

[delete embedded spaces or "%20"s if necessary]

It's adding 10+ signatures per minute, many from very large companies,

ISPs, small business, and individuals who recognize Sitefinder to be a

fundamental abuse and subversion of the DNS by Verisign. ICANN doesn't

need "2 or 3 days to make a comment" as suggested by Mary Hewitt. Call

a Board meeting today, and put this to an end.

I hope others will link to the petition, and thanks to those who

already have spread the word via websites and forwarding emails to

friends and colleagues. Let's keep up the pressure until ICANN does the

proper thing, and either forces Verisign to stop (and repay their

ill-gotten gains), or redelegates to a more worthy registry operator.

question (-1)

donald knuth troll (682408) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987259)

Did they typeset this book with TeX?

Is understanding syntax trees crucial... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987293)

...in source code development.

understanding HTTP is crucial for web development

You can buy the book at Amazon! (0, Offtopic)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987312)

I know an Amazon Associate who is willing to sell you that book, just be sure to add "inertishomepa-20" to the end of any url string to get the "special deal." I hear his current specials are on SAMS Teach Yourself books [slashdot.org] right now.

Re:You can buy the book at Amazon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987359)

I am glad you have such respectable connections. Of course, the book is available only through the associate and he also has to be willing to sell it that day. No way a poor mortal could have purchased this rare piece of parchment by simply typing in amazon.com. Keep up the good work, and to support it, I will be adding inertishomepa-20 to every Web site I visit, not just Amazon.

No it's not (1, Troll)

Ryouga3 (683889) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987317)

HTTP may be critical to the web, but it is not critical to web development. All you need to know is HTML and you can develop pages like the pros.

Re:No it's not (1)

twoslice (457793) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987384)

All you need to know is HTML and you can develop pages like the pros.

Not neccesarily - the pages may look alright but to produce dynamic content and process user input you need to know a bit of programming.

Re:No it's not (0)

Jenolen (636487) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987400)

Yeah... I mean, I've been making sites for years. Hell, I AM a pro at it. And I never bothered to learn the protocol. But I will say that you need to know a whole lot more than just HTML to make "pages like the pros". Open this one for example... I didn't know anything about the HTTP &$#%^#^%# -CARRIER TERMINATED-

Re:No it's not (1)

WebMasterJoe (253077) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987606)

All you need to know is HTML and you can develop pages like the pros.
I really hope that was meant to be sarcastic. To be a good web developer, one should know HTML as well as XHTML, CSS, Javascript, some server-side programming, SQL, and be well-versed in browser compatibility, accessibility, interface guidelines, and information architecture. Photoshop or Fireworks is a plus too. And of course, it's always a strong point to know Apache fairly well.

A good working knowledge of HTTP is useful, too, but I agree that it's not necessary to know much about it. If you know GET, POST, and HEAD, you should be able to get by fine.

HTML may be playing a bigger role .. (5, Insightful)

igorko (701584) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987333)

Sure, some developers won't grasp HTTP is a stateless protocol. Others remain ignorant of the fact it's trivial to spoof and continue to rely on the the refferer as means of session tracking. But that's not where the big problems are. They lie in misuse of HTML.

1. most people use it to "design pages", not represent data. H1, H2 .. tags are miserably neglected (in favour of, say, FONT). Flash, on the other hand, is used where it shouldn't be.

2. small fonts (guess what: verdana is NOT cool), sans-serif for main text, low-contrast hard-to-read colors, and so on.

3. propriatery HTML (say IE 6.0+ only), fixed-resolution design

and many other bugs of the sort. Reading W3C's HTML 4.01 & CSS2 specifications and some usability guides (www.useit.com) should be more insightful than following up on HTTP headers. What works for me is knowing it's stateless, what this means, cookies and url rewriting, and SSL/TSL. The only time I used cleancut HTTP was when testing certain servers via telnet 80.

Verisign and networksolutions are an additional problem, but that's another story altogether.

For a webdesigner, the protocol details are of little use. There are more important things to study.
-i

Re:HTML may be playing a bigger role .. (1)

ukpyr (53793) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987554)

This book is for a different type of person that one who is overly concerned with HTML and usability issues. Web developers are people who do the server side stuff, and if they are good, let people with taste and skills that you mention handle the presentation layer.
Even people who do mixed logic/presentation development with technologies like JSP, ASP and Cold Fusion are less an audience for this book than people who develop using serious backend technologies like SOAP, web services, building in features to flexible servers like apache using mod_perl and similar technologies.
Don't mix web designers with web developers they are very different types of people (or should be).

Attn: honestpuck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987344)

please fuck off and die.


What the hell is your story? Are you a shill from O'Reilly, damning competitors with faint praise?


Are you a bn employee with a 5-finger discount?


Are you a sad, pathetic loser that can only find acceptance in writing book reviews for slashdot?

Online docs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987345)

why would you buy a book on HTTP?????

Re:Online docs (0)

Jenolen (636487) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987452)

In Soviet Russia, HTTP manipulates YOU!

Timewarp.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987352)

HTTP Developer's Handbook

Huh? I thought the HTTP protocol was already developed.

SPOILER!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987354)

TRINITY DIES AT THE END!!!

Re:SPOILER!!! (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987549)

And is fine after a reboot

RFCs? (1)

Codijack (526817) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987386)

Tony says that the only useful part is the 80 pages HTTP definition? Why not just download the relevant RFCs -- everything you need is in there! (And you can grep through the text...)

regards.

REST? (1)

Chris Croome (24340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987387)

Not just using POST for changing state server side and GET for other stuff is a mistake that is often made...

The REST stuff [conveyor.com] is good on this...

Also the W3C document on URIs, Addressability, and the use of HTTP GET and POST [w3.org] , a document being debated on the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) list [w3.org] is debating at the moment [ thread 1 [w3.org] | thread 2 [w3.org] ] also well worth reading...

I wonder if REST is covered in this book?

Honest Criticism (5, Informative)

shiflett (151538) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987442)

I appreciate the honest feedback, and I'd like to address a few concerns/criticisms/whatever that I have seen mentioned.

Convincing the reader of the importance of HTTP - The first few pages do focus a lot on explaining why HTTP is important to a Web developer. Just look at all of the comments that mention how knowing HTTP is useless, and you can hopefully see why I think this is important. I see questions on various mailing lists all the time that reflect a general lack of knowledge in this area; developers don't really understand cookies, when SSL is needed (or what it does), how to secure their sessions (or applications in general), how to keep up with data from one page to the next, and all sorts of things.

The book caters to beginners - I want the book to cater to both the beginner and the experienced developer. HTTP isn't rocket science, and it can provide a great foundation for Web developers to build from. For those who are already experienced, the book can provide a good reference to the protocol (if you're experienced, you should also know that RFC 2616 isn't a substitute for this) and can help people gain a deeper understanding of things they already know a little about. I don't think a book has to confuse the reader to be considered advanced, and I wasn't writing to impress anyone. My approach was to try and help as many people as I could.

Learn Dreamweaver, not HTTP - Well, people with this opinion might be a lost cause, but what happens when your next place of employment thinks FrontPage is the only way to write Web applications? In general, I think it is better to teach people fundamental things and let them apply those things in any way that they want.

I also have a companion Web site for the book at http://shiflett.org/books/http-developers-handbook [shiflett.org] .

Re:Honest Criticism (2, Insightful)

ukpyr (53793) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987696)

It seems to me, most of the confusion comes from people who use the term "web developer" to mean someone who uses HTML to make static web pages.

Maybe it's regional or something but to me and people I know, "web developers" are programmers who use server-side technologies like mod_[perl/php/whatever], ASP, JSP etc etc etc who would actually care about what is happening in the HTTP request process because they (can) directly influence it.

I call people who use things like Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or notepad to write HTML docuements "web designers". These same people also use graphic design software to make graphics for websites with photoshop, illustrator, or whatever.

two very different skillsets, two very different types of training/knowledge

Http security, ids evasion, and HTTP rfc's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987689)


www.cgisecurity.com/rfc> [cgisecurity.com]
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