top of page

How WebSockets are different from HTTP?

Updated: Feb 14

You can listen to the audio of this blog here
How websockets are different from http

Today's fast-paced, data-driven environment has made real-time communication between applications and devices a critical part of cutting-edge web applications. HTTP and WebSockets have emerged as two essential methods of communication.

Client-server interactions routinely employ both protocols, despite their differences. This article compares and contrasts HTTP and WebSockets- focusing on their core architectural and operational differences. Whether you're an experienced web developer or just starting out, this blog will give you crucial insights into the world of real-time communication and help you choose the correct protocol to employ in your projects.

Let's dive right in -

  1. Overview of HTTP/HTTPS

  2. What is HTTP and HTTPS?

  3. How HTTP/HTTPS works?

  4. Constraints of HTTP/HTTPS

  5. Overview of WebSockets

  6. What is a WebSocket?

  7. How do WebSockets work?

  8. Advantages of WebSockets

  9. Differences between HTTP and WebSockets

  10. HTTP/HTTPS and Websockets Use Cases

  11. Use cases for HTTP/HTTPS

  12. Use Cases for WebSockets

  13. Choosing the right technology for your use case

  14. Conclusion

Overview of HTTP/HTTPS

What is HTTP and HTTPS?

On the World Wide Web, data is transmitted and received using the client-server protocol known as HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). A great majority of websites and web applications use it as the foundation for data transfer on the internet. A secure variant of HTTP, known as HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), uses encryption to protect the confidentiality and security of data transferred over the internet.

What is HTTPS
What is HTTPS?

How HTTP/HTTPS works?

In HTTP, the client (such as a web browser) submits a request to the server, which then returns the desired data. Request and response are structured into a structure called a "message." HTTP messages typically include headers (request or response-related metadata) and a body (the actual data being transmitted). A client sends an HTTP GET request when requesting data from a server, and an HTTP POST request when sending data to a server.

In HTTPS, client-server communication is encrypted using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocols. This provides an additional degree of protection and confidentiality for the sent data.

Request-Response in HTTP/S
Request-Response in HTTP/S

Constraints of HTTP/HTTPS

HTTP and HTTPS are designed for web-based communication, but their constraints make them unsuitable for real-time applications and other high-performance scenarios. For instance:

  • Latency: HTTP/HTTPS is built for request/response communication, which may cause a significant amount of latency.

  • Consumption of bandwidth: HTTP/HTTPS could be wasteful in terms of bandwidth use because it sends vast amounts of overhead data with each request and response.

  • Due to the unidirectional nature of HTTP/HTTPS, the client must establish the initial connection with the server. The applications that can be created utilising these protocols may be constrained as a result.

In conclusion, HTTP/HTTPS are widely used and well-matched for many applications, but their constraints make them less appropriate for real-time and high-performance scenarios. Here, WebSockets come into play.

Overview of WebSockets