QUIC Working GroupM. Bishop, Editor
Intended status: Standards TrackJanuary 14, 2017
Expires: July 18, 2017

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) over QUIC


The QUIC transport protocol has several features that are desirable in a transport for HTTP, such as stream multiplexing, per-stream flow control, and low-latency connection establishment. This document describes a mapping of HTTP semantics over QUIC. Specifically, this document identifies HTTP/2 features that are subsumed by QUIC, and describes how the other features can be implemented atop QUIC.

Note to Readers

Discussion of this draft takes place on the QUIC working group mailing list (quic@ietf.org), which is archived at https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/search/?email_list=quic.

Working Group information can be found at https://github.com/quicwg; source code and issues list for this draft can be found at https://github.com/quicwg/base-drafts/labels/http.

Status of this Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as “work in progress”.

This Internet-Draft will expire on July 18, 2017.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2017 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved.

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1. Introduction

The QUIC transport protocol has several features that are desirable in a transport for HTTP, such as stream multiplexing, per-stream flow control, and low-latency connection establishment. This document describes a mapping of HTTP semantics over QUIC, drawing heavily on the existing TCP mapping, HTTP/2. Specifically, this document identifies HTTP/2 features that are subsumed by QUIC, and describes how the other features can be implemented atop QUIC.

QUIC is described in [QUIC-TRANSPORT]. For a full description of HTTP/2, see [RFC7540].

1.1. Notational Conventions

The words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “SHOULD”, and “MAY” are used in this document. It’s not shouting; when they are capitalized, they have the special meaning defined in [RFC2119].

2. QUIC Advertisement

A server advertises that it can speak HTTP/QUIC via the Alt-Svc ([RFC7838]) HTTP response header (or the semantically equivalent Alt-Svc HTTP/2 Extension Frame Type), using the ALPN token defined in Section 3.

Thus, a server could indicate in an HTTP/1.1 or HTTP/2 response that HTTP/QUIC was available on UDP port 443 by including the following header in any response:

Alt-Svc: hq=":443"

2.1. QUIC Version Hints

This document defines the “v” parameter for Alt-Svc, which is used to provide version-negotiation hints to HTTP/QUIC clients. Syntax:

v = version
version = DQUOTE ( "c" version-string / "x" version-number ) DQUOTE
version-string = token; percent-encoded QUIC version
version-number = 1*8 HEXDIG; hex-encoded QUIC version

When multiple versions are supported, the “v” parameter MAY be repeated multiple times in a single Alt-Svc entry. For example, if a server supported both version “Q034” and version 0x00000001, it would specify the following header:

Alt-Svc: hq=":443";v="x1";v="cQ034"

Where multiple versions are listed, the order of the values reflects the server’s preference (with the first value being the most preferred version).

QUIC versions are four-octet sequences with no additional constraints on format. Versions containing octets not allowed in tokens ([RFC7230], Section 3.2.6) MUST be encoded using the hexidecimal representation. Versions containing only octets allowed in tokens MAY be encoded using either representation.

On receipt of an Alt-Svc header indicating QUIC support, a client MAY attempt to establish a QUIC connection on the indicated port and, if successful, send HTTP requests using the mapping described in this document. Servers SHOULD list only versions which they support, but MAY omit supported versions for any reason.

Connectivity problems (e.g. firewall blocking UDP) may result in QUIC connection establishment failure, in which case the client should gracefully fall back to HTTP/2.

3. Connection Establishment

HTTP/QUIC connections are established as described in [QUIC-TRANSPORT]. During connection establishment, HTTP/QUIC support is indicated by selecting the ALPN token “hq” in the crypto handshake.

While connection-level options pertaining to the core QUIC protocol are set in the initial crypto handshake, HTTP-specific settings are conveyed in the SETTINGS frame. After the QUIC connection is established, a SETTINGS frame (Section 5.2.5) MUST be sent as the initial frame of the HTTP control stream (StreamID 3, see Section 4).

3.1. Draft Version Identification

  • RFC Editor’s Note: Please remove this section prior to publication of a final version of this document.

Only implementations of the final, published RFC can identify themselves as “hq”. Until such an RFC exists, implementations MUST NOT identify themselves using these strings.

Implementations of draft versions of the protocol MUST add the string “-“ and the corresponding draft number to the identifier. For example, draft-ietf-quic-http-01 is identified using the string “hq-01”.

Non-compatible experiments that are based on these draft versions MUST append the string “-“ and an experiment name to the identifier. For example, an experimental implementation based on draft-ietf-quic-http-09 which reserves an extra stream for unsolicited transmission of 1980s pop music might identify itself as “hq-09-rickroll”. Note that any label MUST conform to the “token” syntax defined in Section 3.2.6 of [RFC7230]. Experimenters are encouraged to coordinate their experiments on the quic@ietf.org mailing list.

4. Stream Mapping and Usage

A QUIC stream provides reliable in-order delivery of bytes, but makes no guarantees about order of delivery with regard to bytes on other streams. On the wire, data is framed into QUIC STREAM frames, but this framing is invisible to the HTTP framing layer. A QUIC receiver buffers and orders received STREAM frames, exposing the data contained within as a reliable byte stream to the application.

QUIC reserves Stream 1 for crypto operations (the handshake, crypto config updates). Stream 3 is reserved for sending and receiving HTTP control frames, and is analogous to HTTP/2’s Stream 0.

When HTTP headers and data are sent over QUIC, the QUIC layer handles most of the stream management. An HTTP request/response consumes a pair of streams: This means that the client’s first request occurs on QUIC streams 5 and 7, the second on stream 9 and 11, and so on. The server’s first push consumes streams 2 and 4. This amounts to the second least-significant bit differentiating the two streams in a request.

The lower-numbered stream is called the message control stream and carries frames related to the request/response, including HEADERS. All request control streams are exempt from connection-level flow control. The higher-numbered stream is the data stream and carries the request/response body with no additional framing. Note that a request or response without a body will cause this stream to be half-closed in the corresponding direction without transferring data.

Pairs of streams must be utilized sequentially, with no gaps. The data stream MUST be reserved with the QUIC implementation when the message control stream is opened or reserved, and MUST be closed after transferring the body, or else closed immediately after sending the request headers if there is no body.

HTTP does not need to do any separate multiplexing when using QUIC - data sent over a QUIC stream always maps to a particular HTTP transaction. Requests and responses are considered complete when the corresponding QUIC streams are closed in the appropriate direction.

4.1. Stream 3: Connection Control Stream

Since most connection-level concerns from HTTP/2 will be managed by QUIC, the primary use of Stream 3 will be for SETTINGS and PRIORITY frames. Stream 3 is exempt from connection-level flow-control.

4.2. HTTP Message Exchanges

A client sends an HTTP request on a new pair of QUIC streams. A server sends an HTTP response on the same streams as the request.

An HTTP message (request or response) consists of:

  1. for a response only, zero or more header blocks (a sequence of HEADERS frames with End Header Block set on the last) on the control stream containing the message headers of informational (1xx) HTTP responses (see [RFC7230], Section 3.2 and [RFC7231], Section 6.2),
  2. one header block on the control stream containing the message headers (see [RFC7230], Section 3.2),
  3. the payload body (see [RFC7230], Section 3.3), sent on the data stream,
  4. optionally, one header block on the control stream containing the trailer-part, if present (see [RFC7230], Section 4.1.2).

The data stream MUST be half-closed immediately after the transfer of the body. If the message does not contain a body, the corresponding data stream MUST still be half-closed without transferring any data. The “chunked” transfer encoding defined in Section 4.1 of [RFC7230] MUST NOT be used.

Trailing header fields are carried in a header block following the body. Such a header block is a sequence of HEADERS frames with End Header Block set on the last frame. Header blocks after the first but before the end of the stream are invalid. These MUST be decoded to maintain HPACK decoder state, but the resulting output MUST be discarded.

An HTTP request/response exchange fully consumes a pair of streams. After sending a request, a client closes the streams for sending; after sending a response, the server closes its streams for sending and the QUIC streams are fully closed.

A server can send a complete response prior to the client sending an entire request if the response does not depend on any portion of the request that has not been sent and received. When this is true, a server MAY request that the client abort transmission of a request without error by sending a RST_STREAM with an error code of NO_ERROR after sending a complete response and closing its stream. Clients MUST NOT discard responses as a result of receiving such a RST_STREAM, though clients can always discard responses at their discretion for other reasons.

4.2.1. Header Compression

HTTP/QUIC uses HPACK header compression as described in [RFC7541]. HPACK was designed for HTTP/2 with the assumption of in- order delivery such as that provided by TCP. A sequence of encoded header blocks must arrive (and be decoded) at an endpoint in the same order in which they were encoded. This ensures that the dynamic state at the two endpoints remains in sync.

QUIC streams provide in-order delivery of data sent on those streams, but there are no guarantees about order of delivery between streams. To achieve in-order delivery of HEADERS frames in QUIC, the HPACK-bearing frames contain a counter which can be used to ensure in-order processing. Data (request/response bodies) which arrive out of order are buffered until the corresponding HEADERS arrive.

This does introduce head-of-line blocking: if the packet containing HEADERS for stream N is lost or reordered then the HEADERS for stream N+4 cannot be processed until it has been retransmitted successfully, even though the HEADERS for stream N+4 may have arrived.

Keep HPACK with HOLB? Redesign HPACK to be order-invariant? How much do we need to retain compatibility with HTTP/2’s HPACK?

4.2.2. The CONNECT Method

The pseudo-method CONNECT ([RFC7231], Section 4.3.6) is primarily used with HTTP proxies to establish a TLS session with an origin server for the purposes of interacting with “https” resources. In HTTP/1.x, CONNECT is used to convert an entire HTTP connection into a tunnel to a remote host. In HTTP/2, the CONNECT method is used to establish a tunnel over a single HTTP/2 stream to a remote host for similar purposes.

A CONNECT request in HTTP/QUIC functions in the same manner as in HTTP/2. The request MUST be formatted as described in [RFC7540], Section 8.3. A CONNECT request that does not conform to these restrictions is malformed. The message data stream MUST NOT be closed at the end of the request.

A proxy that supports CONNECT establishes a TCP connection ([RFC0793]) to the server identified in the “:authority” pseudo-header field. Once this connection is successfully established, the proxy sends a HEADERS frame containing a 2xx series status code to the client, as defined in [RFC7231], Section 4.3.6, on the message control stream.

All QUIC STREAM frames on the message data stream correspond to data sent on the TCP connection. Any QUIC STREAM frame sent by the client is transmitted by the proxy to the TCP server; data received from the TCP server is written to the data stream by the proxy. Note that the size and number of TCP segments is not guaranteed to map predictably to the size and number of QUIC STREAM frames.

The TCP connection can be closed by either peer. When the client half-closes the data stream, the proxy will set the FIN bit on its connection to the TCP server. When the proxy receives a packet with the FIN bit set, it will half-close the corresponding data stream. TCP connections which remain half-closed in a single direction are not invalid, but are often handled poorly by servers, so clients SHOULD NOT half-close connections on which they are still expecting data.

A TCP connection error is signaled with RST_STREAM. A proxy treats any error in the TCP connection, which includes receiving a TCP segment with the RST bit set, as a stream error of type HTTP_CONNECT_ERROR (Section 6.1). Correspondingly, a proxy MUST send a TCP segment with the RST bit set if it detects an error with the stream or the QUIC connection.

4.3. Stream Priorities

HTTP/QUIC uses the priority scheme described in [RFC7540] Section 5.3. In this priority scheme, a given stream can be designated as dependent upon another stream, which expresses the preference that the latter stream (the “parent” stream) be allocated resources before the former stream (the “dependent” stream). Taken together, the dependencies across all streams in a connection form a dependency tree. The structure of the dependency tree changes as HEADERS and PRIORITY frames add, remove, or change the dependency links between streams.

Implicit in this scheme is the notion of in-order delivery of priority changes (i.e., dependency tree mutations): since operations on the dependency tree such as reparenting a subtree are not commutative, both sender and receiver must apply them in the same order to ensure that both sides have a consistent view of the stream dependency tree. HTTP/2 specifies priority assignments in PRIORITY frames and (optionally) in HEADERS frames. To achieve in-order delivery of priority changes in HTTP/QUIC, PRIORITY frames are sent on the connection control stream and the PRIORITY section is removed from the HEADERS frame. The semantics of the Stream Dependency, Weight, E flag, and (for HEADERS frames) PRIORITY flag are the same as in HTTP/2.

For consistency’s sake, all PRIORITY frames MUST refer to the message control stream of the dependent request, not the data stream.

4.4. Flow Control

QUIC provides stream and connection level flow control, similar in principle to HTTP/2’s flow control but with some implementation differences. As flow control is handled by QUIC, the HTTP mapping need not concern itself with maintaining flow control state. The HTTP mapping MUST NOT send WINDOW_UPDATE frames at the HTTP level.

4.5. Server Push

HTTP/QUIC supports server push as described in [RFC7540]. During connection establishment, the client indicates whether it is willing to receive server pushes via the SETTINGS_ENABLE_PUSH setting in the SETTINGS frame (see Section 3), which defaults to 1 (true).

As with server push for HTTP/2, the server initiates a server push by sending a PUSH_PROMISE frame containing the StreamID of the stream to be pushed, as well as request header fields attributed to the request. The PUSH_PROMISE frame is sent on the control stream of the associated (client-initiated) request, while the Promised Stream ID field specifies the Stream ID of the control stream for the server-initiated request.

The server push response is conveyed in the same way as a non-server-push response, with response headers and (if present) trailers carried by HEADERS frames sent on the control stream, and response body (if any) sent via the corresponding data stream.

5. HTTP Framing Layer

Many framing concepts from HTTP/2 can be elided away on QUIC, because the transport deals with them. Because frames are already on a stream, they can omit the stream number. Because frames do not block multiplexing (QUIC’s multiplexing occurs below this layer), the support for variable-maximum-length packets can be removed. Because stream termination is handled by QUIC, an END_STREAM flag is not required.

Frames are used only on the connection (stream 3) and message (streams 5, 9, etc.) control streams. Other streams carry data payload and are not framed at the HTTP layer.

Frame payloads are largely drawn from [RFC7540]. However, QUIC includes some features (e.g. flow control) which are also present in HTTP/2. In these cases, the HTTP mapping need not re-implement them. As a result, some frame types are not required when using QUIC. Where an HTTP/2-defined frame is no longer used, the frame ID is reserved in order to maximize portability between HTTP/2 and HTTP/QUIC implementations. However, equivalent frames between the two mappings are not necessarily identical.

This section describes HTTP framing in QUIC and highlights differences from HTTP/2 framing.

5.1. Frame Layout

All frames have the following format:

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |           Length (16)         |     Type (8)  |   Flags (8)   |
   |                       Frame Payload (*)                     ...

Figure 4: HTTP/QUIC frame format

5.2. Frame Definitions

5.2.1. DATA

DATA frames do not exist. Frame type 0x0 is reserved.

5.2.2. HEADERS

The HEADERS frame (type=0x1) is used to carry part of a header set, compressed using HPACK [RFC7541]. Because HEADERS frames from different streams will be delivered out-of-order and priority-changes are not commutative, the PRIORITY region of HEADERS is not supported. A separate PRIORITY frame MUST be used.

Padding MUST NOT be used. The flags defined are:

Reserved (0x1):
Reserved for HTTP/2 compatibility.
End Header Block (0x4):
This frame concludes a header block.
Reserved (0x8):
Reserved for HTTP/2 compatibility.
Reserved (0x20):
Reserved for HTTP/2 compatibility.

A HEADERS frame with the Reserved bits set MUST be treated as a connection error of type HTTP_MALFORMED_HEADERS.

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |       Sequence? (16)          |    Header Block Fragment (*)...

Figure 5: HEADERS frame payload

The HEADERS frame payload has the following fields:

Sequence Number:
Present only on the first frame of a header block sequence. This MUST be set to zero on the first header block sequence, and incremented on each header block.

The next frame on the same stream after a HEADERS frame without the EHB flag set MUST be another HEADERS frame. A receiver MUST treat the receipt of any other type of frame as a stream error of type HTTP_INTERRUPTED_HEADERS. (Note that QUIC can intersperse data from other streams between frames, or even during transmission of frames, so multiplexing is not blocked by this requirement.)

A full header block is contained in a sequence of zero or more HEADERS frames without EHB set, followed by a HEADERS frame with EHB set.

On receipt, header blocks (HEADERS, PUSH_PROMISE) MUST be processed by the HPACK decoder in sequence. If a block is missing, all subsequent HPACK frames MUST be held until it arrives, or the connection terminated.


The PRIORITY (type=0x02) frame specifies the sender-advised priority of a stream and is substantially different from [RFC7540]. In order to support ordering, it MUST be sent only on the connection control stream. The format has been modified to accommodate not being sent on-stream and the larger stream ID space of QUIC.

The flags defined are:

E (0x01):
Indicates that the stream dependency is exclusive (see [RFC7540] Section 5.3).
    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |                   Prioritized Stream (32)                     |
   |                    Dependent Stream (32)                      |
   |   Weight (8)  |

Figure 6: HEADERS frame payload

The HEADERS frame payload has the following fields:

Prioritized Stream:
A 32-bit stream identifier for the message control stream whose priority is being updated.
Stream Dependency:
A 32-bit stream identifier for the stream that this stream depends on (see Section 4.3 and {!RFC7540}} Section 5.3).
An unsigned 8-bit integer representing a priority weight for the stream (see [RFC7540] Section 5.3). Add one to the value to obtain a weight between 1 and 256.

A PRIORITY frame MUST have a payload length of nine octets. A PRIORITY frame of any other length MUST be treated as a connection error of type HTTP_MALFORMED_PRIORITY.


RST_STREAM frames do not exist, since QUIC provides stream lifecycle management. Frame type 0x3 is reserved.


The SETTINGS frame (type=0x4) conveys configuration parameters that affect how endpoints communicate, such as preferences and constraints on peer behavior, and is substantially different from [RFC7540]. Individually, a SETTINGS parameter can also be referred to as a “setting”.

SETTINGS parameters are not negotiated; they describe characteristics of the sending peer, which can be used by the receiving peer. However, a negotiation can be implied by the use of SETTINGS – a peer uses SETTINGS to advertise a set of supported values. The recipient can then choose which entries from this list are also acceptable and proceed with the value it has chosen. (This choice could be announced in a field of an extension frame, or in its own value in SETTINGS.)

Different values for the same parameter can be advertised by each peer. For example, a client might permit a very large HPACK state table while a server chooses to use a small one to conserve memory.

A SETTINGS frame MAY be sent at any time by either endpoint over the lifetime of the connection.

Each parameter in a SETTINGS frame replaces any existing value for that parameter. Parameters are processed in the order in which they appear, and a receiver of a SETTINGS frame does not need to maintain any state other than the current value of its parameters. Therefore, the value of a SETTINGS parameter is the last value that is seen by a receiver.

The SETTINGS frame defines the following flag:

When set, bit 0 indicates that this frame contains values which the sender wants to know were understood and applied. For more information, see Section

The payload of a SETTINGS frame consists of zero or more parameters, each consisting of an unsigned 16-bit setting identifier and a length-prefixed binary value.

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |        Identifier (16)        |B|        Length (15)          |
   |                          Contents (?)                       ...

Figure 7: SETTINGS value format

A zero-length content indicates that the setting value is a Boolean given by the B bit. If Length is not zero, the B bit MUST be zero, and MUST be ignored by receivers. The initial value of each setting is “false” unless otherwise specified by the definition of the setting.

Non-zero-length values MUST be compared against the remaining length of the SETTINGS frame. Any value which purports to cross the end of the frame MUST cause the SETTINGS frame to be considered malformed and trigger a connection error.

An implementation MUST ignore the contents for any SETTINGS identifier it does not understand.

SETTINGS frames always apply to a connection, never a single stream, and MUST only be sent on the connection control stream (Stream 3). If an endpoint receives an SETTINGS frame whose stream identifier field is anything other than 0x0, the endpoint MUST respond with a connection error of type HTTP_SETTINGS_ON_WRONG_STREAM.

The SETTINGS frame affects connection state. A badly formed or incomplete SETTINGS frame MUST be treated as a connection error (Section 5.4.1) of type HTTP_MALFORMED_SETTINGS. Integer encoding

Settings which are integers are transmitted in network byte order. Leading zero octets are permitted, but implementations SHOULD use only as many bytes as are needed to represent the value. An integer MUST NOT be represented in more bytes than would be used to transfer the maximum permitted value. Defined SETTINGS Parameters

Some transport-level options that HTTP/2 specifies via the SETTINGS frame are superseded by QUIC transport parameters in HTTP/QUIC. Below is a listing of how each HTTP/2 SETTINGS parameter is mapped:

An integer with a maximum value of 2^32 - 1.
Transmitted as a Boolean. The default remains “true” as specified in [RFC7540].
QUIC requires the maximum number of incoming streams per connection to be specified in the initial crypto handshake, using the “MSPC” tag. Specifying SETTINGS_MAX_CONCURRENT_STREAMS in the SETTINGS frame is an error.
QUIC requires both stream and connection flow control window sizes to be specified in the initial crypto handshake, using the “SFCW” and “CFCW” tags, respectively. Specifying SETTINGS_INITIAL_WINDOW_SIZE in the SETTINGS frame is an error.
This setting has no equivalent in QUIC. Specifying it in the SETTINGS frame is an error.
An integer with a maximium value of 2^32 - 1. Settings Synchronization

Some values in SETTINGS benefit from or require an understanding of when the peer has received and applied the changed parameter values. In order to provide such synchronization timepoints, the recipient of a SETTINGS frame MUST apply the updated parameters as soon as possible upon receipt. The values in the SETTINGS frame MUST be processed in the order they appear, with no other frame processing between values. Unsupported parameters MUST be ignored.

Once all values have been processed, if the REQUEST_ACK flag was set, the recipient MUST emit the following frames:

  • On the connection control stream, a SETTINGS_ACK frame (Section 5.2.11) listing the identifiers whose values were not understood.
  • On each request control stream which is not in the “half-closed (local)” or “closed” state, an empty SETTINGS_ACK frame.

The SETTINGS_ACK frame on the connection control stream contains the highest stream number which was open at the time the SETTINGS frame was received. All streams with higher numbers can safely be assumed to have the new settings in effect when they open.

For already-open streams including the connection control stream, the SETTINGS_ACK frame indicates the point at which the new settings took effect, if they did so before the peer half-closed the stream. If the peer closed the stream before receiving the SETTINGS frame, the previous settings were in effect for the full lifetime of that stream.

In certain conditions, the SETTINGS_ACK frame can be the first frame on a given stream – this simply indicates that the new settings apply from the beginning of that stream.

If the sender of a SETTINGS frame with the REQUEST_ACK flag set does not receive full acknowledgement within a reasonable amount of time, it MAY issue a connection error (Section 6) of type HTTP_SETTINGS_TIMEOUT. A full acknowledgement has occurred when:

  • All previous SETTINGS frames have been fully acknowledged,
  • A SETTINGS_ACK frame has been received on the connection control stream,
  • All message control streams with a Stream ID through those given in the SETTINGS_ACK frame have either closed or received a SETTINGS_ACK frame.


The PUSH_PROMISE frame (type=0x05) is used to carry a request header set from server to client, as in HTTP/2. It defines no flags.

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |                   Promised Stream ID (32)                     |
   |       Sequence? (16)          |         Header Block (*)    ...

Figure 8: PUSH_PROMISE frame payload

The payload consists of:

Promised Stream ID:
A 32-bit Stream ID indicating the QUIC stream on which the response headers will be sent. (The response body stream is implied by the headers stream, as defined in Section 4.)
HPACK Sequence:
A sixteen-bit counter, equivalent to the Sequence field in HEADERS
HPACK-compressed request headers for the promised response.


  • QUIC stream space may be enlarged; would need to redefine Promised Stream field in this case.
  • No CONTINUATION – HEADERS have EHB; do we need it here?

5.2.7. PING

PING frames do not exist, since QUIC provides equivalent functionality. Frame type 0x6 is reserved.

5.2.8. GOAWAY frame

GOAWAY frames do not exist, since QUIC provides equivalent functionality. Frame type 0x7 is reserved.

5.2.9. WINDOW_UPDATE frame

WINDOW_UPDATE frames do not exist, since QUIC provides equivalent functionality. Frame type 0x8 is reserved.

5.2.10. CONTINUATION frame

CONTINUATION frames do not exist, since larger supported HEADERS/PUSH_PROMISE frames provide equivalent functionality. Frame type 0x9 is reserved.

5.2.11. SETTINGS_ACK Frame

The SETTINGS_ACK frame (id = 0x0b) acknowledges receipt and application of specific values in the peer’s SETTINGS frame. Depending on the stream where it is sent, it takes two different forms.

On the connection control stream, it contains information about how and when the sender has processed the most recently-received SETTINGS frame, and has the following payload:

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |                   Highest Local Stream (32)                   |
   |                   Highest Remote Stream (32)                  |
   |                  Unrecognized Identifiers (*)               ...

Figure 9: SETTINGS_ACK connection control stream format

Highest Local Stream (32 bits):
The highest locally-initiated Stream ID which is not in the “idle” state
Highest Remote Stream (32 bits):
The highest peer-initiated Stream ID which is not in the “idle” state
Unrecognized Identifiers:
A list of 16-bit SETTINGS identifiers which the sender has not understood and therefore ignored. This list MAY be empty.

On message control streams, the SETTINGS_ACK frame carries no payload, and is strictly a synchronization marker for settings application. See Section for more detail. A SETTINGS_ACK frame with a non-zero length MUST be treated as a connection error of type HTTP_MALFORMED_SETTINGS_ACK.

On the connection control stream, the SETTINGS_ACK frame MUST have a length which is a multiple of two octets. A SETTINGS_ACK frame of any other length MUST be treated as a connection error of type HTTP_MALFORMED_SETTINGS_ACK.

6. Error Handling

This section describes the specific error codes defined by HTTP and the mapping of HTTP/2 error codes into the QUIC error code space.

6.1. HTTP-Defined QUIC Error Codes

QUIC allocates error codes 0x0000-0x3FFF to application protocol definition. The following error codes are defined by HTTP for use in QUIC RST_STREAM, GOAWAY, and CONNECTION_CLOSE frames.

After sending a SETTINGS frame which requested acknowledgement, the acknowledgement was not completed (see Section in a timely manner.
The server has attempted to push content which the client will not accept on this connection.
An internal error has occurred in the HTTP stack.
The server has attempted to push content which the client has cached.
The client no longer needs the requested data.
HPACK failed to decompress a frame and cannot continue.
The connection established in response to a CONNECT request was reset or abnormally closed.
The endpoint detected that its peer is exhibiting a behavior that might be generating excessive load.
The requested operation cannot be served over HTTP/QUIC. The peer should retry over HTTP/2.
A HEADERS frame has been received with an invalid format.
A HEADERS frame has been received with an invalid format.
A HEADERS frame has been received with an invalid format.
A HEADERS frame has been received with an invalid format.
A HEADERS frame has been received with an invalid format.
A HEADERS frame without the End Header Block flag was followed by a frame other than HEADERS.
A SETTINGS frame was received on a request control stream.

6.2. Mapping HTTP/2 Error Codes

The HTTP/2 error codes defined in Section 7 of [RFC7540] map to QUIC error codes as follows:

NO_ERROR (0x0):
No single mapping. See new HTTP_MALFORMED_* error codes defined in Section 6.1.
Not applicable, since QUIC handles flow control. Would provoke a QUIC_FLOW_CONTROL_RECEIVED_TOO_MUCH_DATA from the QUIC layer.
Not applicable, since QUIC handles stream management. Would provoke a QUIC_STREAM_DATA_AFTER_TERMINATION from the QUIC layer.
No single mapping. See new error codes defined in Section 6.1.
Not applicable, since QUIC handles stream management. Would provoke a QUIC_TOO_MANY_OPEN_STREAMS from the QUIC layer.
CANCEL (0x8):
HTTP_CONNECT_ERROR in Section 6.1.
Not applicable, since QUIC is assumed to provide sufficient security on all connections.
HTTP_1_1_REQUIRED (0xd):

TODO: fill in missing error code mappings.

7. Security Considerations

The security considerations of HTTP over QUIC should be comparable to those of HTTP/2.

The modified SETTINGS format contains nested length elements, which could pose a security risk to an uncautious implementer. A SETTINGS frame parser MUST ensure that the length of the frame exactly matches the length of the settings it contains.

8. IANA Considerations

8.1. Registration of HTTP/QUIC Identification String

This document creates a new registration for the identification of HTTP/QUIC in the “Application Layer Protocol Negotiation (ALPN) Protocol IDs” registry established in [RFC7301].

The “hq” string identifies HTTP/QUIC:

Identification Sequence:
0x68 0x71 (“hq”)
This document

8.2. Registration of Version Hint Alt-Svc Parameter

This document creates a new registration for version-negotiation hints in the “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Alt-Svc Parameter” registry established in [RFC7838].

This document, Section 2.1

8.3. Existing Frame Types

This document adds two new columns to the “HTTP/2 Frame Type” registry defined in [RFC7540]:

Supported Protocols:
Indicates which associated protocols use the frame type. Values MUST be one of:
  • “HTTP/2 only”
  • “HTTP/QUIC only”
  • “Both”
HTTP/QUIC Specification:
Indicates where this frame’s behavior over QUIC is defined; required if the frame is supported over QUIC.

Values for existing registrations are assigned by this document:

Frame TypeSupported ProtocolsHTTP/QUIC Specification
HEADERSBothSection 5.2.2
PRIORITYBothSection 5.2.3
SETTINGSBothSection 5.2.5
PUSH_PROMISEBothSection 5.2.6

The “Specification” column is renamed to “HTTP/2 specification” and is only required if the frame is supported over HTTP/2.

8.4. New Frame Types

This document adds one new entry to the “HTTP/2 Frame Type” registry defined in [RFC7540]:

Frame Type:
HTTP/2 Specification:
Supported Protocols:
HTTP/QUIC Specification:
Section 5.2.11

9. References

9.1. Normative References

Thomson, M., Ed. and S. Turner, Ed, Ed., “Using Transport Layer Security (TLS) to Secure QUIC”.
Iyengar, J., Ed. and M. Thomson, Ed., “QUIC: A UDP-Based Multiplexed and Secure Transport”.
Postel, J., “Transmission Control Protocol”, STD 7, RFC 793, DOI 10.17487/RFC0793, September 1981, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc793>.
Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.
Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Message Syntax and Routing”, RFC 7230, DOI 10.17487/RFC7230, June 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7230>.
Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Semantics and Content”, RFC 7231, DOI 10.17487/RFC7231, June 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7231>.
Belshe, M., Peon, R., and M. Thomson, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Version 2 (HTTP/2)”, RFC 7540, DOI 10.17487/RFC7540, May 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7540>.
Peon, R. and H. Ruellan, “HPACK: Header Compression for HTTP/2”, RFC 7541, DOI 10.17487/RFC7541, May 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7541>.
Nottingham, M., McManus, P., and J. Reschke, “HTTP Alternative Services”, RFC 7838, DOI 10.17487/RFC7838, April 2016, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7838>.

9.2. Informative References

Friedl, S., Popov, A., Langley, A., and E. Stephan, “Transport Layer Security (TLS) Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation Extension”, RFC 7301, DOI 10.17487/RFC7301, July 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7301>.

Appendix A. Contributors

The original authors of this specification were Robbie Shade and Mike Warres.

Appendix B. Change Log

B.1. Since draft-ietf-quic-http-00: 📄 🔍

  • Changed “HTTP/2-over-QUIC” to “HTTP/QUIC” throughout
  • Changed from using HTTP/2 framing within Stream 3 to new framing format and two-stream-per-request model
  • Adopted SETTINGS format from draft-bishop-httpbis-extended-settings-01
  • Reworked SETTINGS_ACK to account for indeterminate inter-stream order.
  • Described CONNECT pseudo-method
  • Updated ALPN token and Alt-Svc guidance
  • Application-layer-defined error codes

B.2. Since draft-shade-quic-http2-mapping-00: 📄

  • Adopted as base for draft-ietf-quic-http.
  • Updated authors/editors list.

Author's Address

Mike Bishop (editor)
EMail: Michael.Bishop@microsoft.com