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Lesson 2 Protocols
ObjectiveDescribe the nature and purpose of protocols.

Nature and Purpose of Protocols

In the context of web technologies, protocols refer to a set of rules or standards that dictate how information is exchanged between different devices or systems over the internet. These protocols ensure that data is transmitted efficiently and reliably, and that all parties involved can understand each other's communications. Some common protocols used in web technologies include the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which governs how web pages are requested and transmitted over the internet, and the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which regulates the sending and receiving of emails. The purpose of these protocols is to enable interoperability and facilitate communication between different devices and systems on the web. By adhering to common standards and conventions, web developers can ensure that their applications and services can work seamlessly with other systems, regardless of the technologies or platforms involved. Overall, protocols play a critical role in ensuring the smooth functioning of web technologies, and are essential for enabling the rich and diverse ecosystem of online services and applications that we rely on every day.

What exactly is a Protocol?

A protocol is a set of logical rules that define how computers send and receive information. There are two types of protocols:
  1. proprietary and
  2. open.
Proprietary protocols are vendor-specific. For example, AppleTalk works on Macintosh computers. Open protocols are published specifications that anyone can use.
For example, TCP/IP, HTTP, and FTP work on UNIX, Windows-based computers, and Macintosh computers.

Connectionless Protocols

Protocols can be either connectionless or connection-oriented. Connectionless protocols like User Datagram Protocol (UDP) do not maintain their connection to the client. After data is transmitted, the client and server disconnect and no effort is made to verify the data arrived at its destination. Because of this, connectionless protocols are sometimes considered unreliable. UDP and other types of connectionless protocols do have their benefits though. Because they bypass the acknowledgement/verify stages used in connection-oriented protocols they are fast and efficient. For example, suppose you email a co-worker to remind them about an upcoming conference. They might not reply with a confirmation. So, even though your method of delivering the message was fast, there's no guarantee the co-worker completely understood or even received your message. That is the essence of using a connectionless protocol.

Connection-oriented Protocols

A connection-oriented protocol establishes a connection to begin connection and acknowledge all transmitted data. TCP is an example of a connection-oriented protocol. After data has been transmitted, the client remains connected to the server, permitting verification that the data has arrived, and/or to permit particular packets to be re-sent. For this reason, TCP is technically referred to as a reliable connection.
In the next lesson, you will learn about TCP/IP protocols.