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Content Transport

There are two ways for content to get from a server on the Internet to the screen of the end user: either the user's client program (browser) goes to the server and retrieves the content, or the server initiates the connection and delivers content to the desktop. These two delivery mechanisms are called pull content and push content, respectively. Some systems for pulling content actually pull from peer systems on the network, rather than the original server; these systems are called peer-to-peer networks. A common variant of push content is broadcast, in which the same content is delivered to many clients simultaneously. This last approach is sometimes called multicast, because the content is actually received by multiple clients but not all possible ones.

Pull Content

Pull content has been the traditional mode for the World Wide Web: the client opens a connection to a server whenever the user clicks a hypertext link. Most Web browsers can use several different network protocols to retrieve content, but the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the most common. The fundamentals of HTTP were described in Chapter 8. We will now discuss some of its more subtle points.


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