The Future

As the public enthusiasm for proxies has arisen just recently, there are many features that are still in their early stages, though the basic functionality is already there. Caching is clearly a wide and complicated area, and it is one of the parts of the proxy server that needs to be greatly enhanced. The proxy could be enhanced to do lookahead, retrieving all documents that are likely to be accessed soon. For example, all the documents referenced by a document that was requested recently, including all the inlined images.

The HTTP protocol should be further enhanced to allow multipart requests and responses; this would allow both caching and mirroring software to refresh large amounts of files in a single connection, rather than re-connecting to the remote server once for each file. Multipart messages are also needed by Web clients for retrieving all the inlined images with one connection.

Several aspects of the proxy architecture need to standardized. A proxy server port number should be assigned by the Internet authority. On the client side there is a need for a fallback mechanism for proxies so that a client can connect to a second or third proxy server if the primary proxy failed (like DNS). Also a dynamic lookup method for finding the closest proxy server is necessary; this might be achieved by using a standard DNS name, for example This kind of dynamic host lookup is not just proxy-centric - Web clients should have the same kind of mechanism for finding a local home page, and the closest functional server in a set of servers mirroring each other.

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Ari Luotonen - Kevin Altis