Earlier, we discussed ICP, a protocol that allows proxy caches to query siblings about the presence of documents. ICP, however, was designed with HTTP/0.9 in mind and therefore allows caches to send just the URL when querying a sibling about the presence of a resource. Versions 1.0 and 1.1 of HTTP introduced many new request headers that, along with the URL, are used to make decisions about document matching, so simply sending the URL in a request may not result in accurate responses.
The Hyper Text Caching Protocol (HTCP) reduces the probability of false hits by allowing siblings to query each other for the presence of documents using the URL and all of the request and response headers. Further, HTCP allows sibling caches to monitor and request the addition and deletion of selected documents in each other’s caches and to make changes in the caching policies of each other’s cached documents.
Figure 20-13, which illustrates an ICP transaction, also can be used to illustrate an HTCP transaction—HTCP is just another object discovery protocol. If a nearby cache has the document, the requesting cache can open an HTTP connection to the cache to get a copy of the document. The difference between an ICP and an HTCP transaction is in the level of detail in the requests and responses.
The structure of HTCP messages is illustrated in Figure 20-15. The Header portion includes the message length and message versions. The Data portion starts with the data length and ...