The Concept of HTTP and How to Properly Test Its Performance

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HTTP: Why We Need It and Where It Is Used

HTTP is a special hypermedia file application layer protocol similar to HTML. It was created to provide communication between browsers and web servers, but its performance is not limited just to these environments. It can be used not only for transferring hypertext documents but also for transferring a group of images/videos, as well as for sending client content to a server environment.

This protocol uses the traditional client-server model, based on which the client (any web browser) creates a request, the server generates a response, and sends it back to the client in the form of data that is ultimately displayed in the web browser.

It is also worth noting the fact that the client and server cannot store information about previous requests. This means that each request contains a specific block of data.

There are many entities between the server and the client, which are called proxy. Their capabilities include many system operations. They also act as special caches and gateways:

Client ⇄ Proxy ⇄ Proxy ⇄ Server

The web browser always initiates the creation of the request. For the specified web page to be displayed on the site, it sends a request to receive the HTML structure.

Then the file is analyzed by performing additional queries that must correspond to the execution scenarios. The web browser then compounds the resources received and displays the complete document to the user.

Scripts that are executed by the browser can fetch a lot of resources at later stages as needed. Therefore, the current web page is refreshed.

On the other side of the communication channel, there is a server whose tasks include processing documents at the client’s request (in our case, a browser). A virtual server can be thought of as one machine. But in fact, it can be a whole set of servers that alternately share the load among themselves, partially or completely performing the process of generating documents by user request.

How to Test HTTP Properly?

Today, a lot of companies around the world have crossed over to microservices inside their applications. This means that the software consists of various sections, which have their own data stores, and uses different commands to build interaction with them.

Lots of microservices use APIs, and APIs in turn use REST/SOAP requests. They are the ones that need to be checked first of all.

The technical difference between them is that SOAP is some kind of protocol and standards that run with operations, and REST is a special system style that works with the recourses of a system. Additionally, it is worth noting that REST is popular and the freest architectural style in terms of use.

Such requests are tested both manually and automatically. Automated tests are often used to check big and functionally complex systems.

Specialists often use Swagger and Postman for testing REST requests and SoapUI for SOAP requests. To transfer data, as a rule, two formats are used – <xml /> and JSON.

To conclude, it’s worth noting that HTTP is an extensible protocol that is very easy to use. The API allows you to run a lot of tests that you can’t always verify through the user interface.

This strategy is recommended to be used both for finding flaws in external design and for verifying the security level of the entire product.

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