I'm going to discuss about the set of common methods for HTTP/1.1. Although this set can be expanded, additional methods cannot be assumed to share the same semantics for separately extended clients and servers.

The Host request-header field MUST accompany all HTTP/1.1 requests.

HTTP defines eight methods indicating the desired action to be performed on the identified resource. What this resource represents, whether pre-existing data or data that is generated dynamically, depends on the implementation of the server. Often, the resource corresponds to a file or the output of an executable residing on the server.

1. GET
This is the most common HTTP method that will be used more on the web.

The GET method means retrieve whatever information (in the form of an entity) is identified by the Request-URI. If the Request-URI refers to a data-producing process, it is the produced data which shall be returned as the entity in the response and not the source text of the process, unless that text happens to be the output of the process.

The semantics of the GET method change to a "conditional GET" if the request message includes an If-Modified-Since, If-Unmodified-Since, If-Match, If-None-Match, or If-Range header field. A conditional GET method requests that the entity be transferred only under the circumstances described by the conditional header field(s). The conditional GET method is intended to reduce unnecessary network usage by allowing cached entities to be refreshed without requiring multiple requests or transferring data already held by the client.

The semantics of the GET method change to a "partial GET" if the request message includes a Range header field. A partial GET requests that only part of the entity be transferred. The partial GET method is intended to reduce unnecessary network usage by allowing partially-retrieved entities to be completed without transferring data already held by the client.

The response to a GET request is cacheable if and only if it meets the requirements for HTTP caching

Asks for the response identical to the one that would correspond to a GET request, but without the response body. This is useful for retrieving meta-information written in response headers, without having to transport the entire content.

Submits data to be processed (e.g., from an HTML form) to the identified resource. The data is included in the body of the request. This may result in the creation of a new resource or the updates of existing resources or both.

The POST method is used to request that the origin server accept the entity enclosed in the request as a new subordinate of the resource identified by the Request-URI in the Request-Line. POST is designed to allow a uniform method to cover the following functions:

- Annotation of existing resources;
- Posting a message to a bulletin board, newsgroup, mailing list, or similar group of articles;
- Providing a block of data, such as the result of submitting a form, to a data-handling process;
- Extending a database through an append operation.

The actual function performed by the POST method is determined by the server and is usually dependent on the Request-URI. The posted entity is subordinate to that URI in the same way that a file is subordinate to a directory containing it, a news article is subordinate to a newsgroup to which it is posted, or a record is subordinate to a database.

The action performed by the POST method might not result in a resource that can be identified by a URI. In this case, either 200 (OK) or 204 (No Content) is the appropriate response status, depending on whether or not the response includes an entity that describes the result.

If a resource has been created on the origin server, the response SHOULD be 201 (Created) and contain an entity which describes the status of the request and refers to the new resource, and a Location header

4. PUT
The PUT method requests that the enclosed entity be stored under the supplied Request-URI. If the Request-URI refers to an already existing resource, the enclosed entity SHOULD be considered as a modified version of the one residing on the origin server. If the Request-URI does not point to an existing resource, and that URI is capable of being defined as a new resource by the requesting user agent, the origin server can create the resource with that URI. If a new resource is created, the origin server MUST inform the user agent via the 201 (Created) response. If an existing resource is modified, either the 200 (OK) or 204 (No Content) response codes SHOULD be sent to indicate successful completion of the request. If the resource could not be created or modified with the Request-URI, an appropriate error response SHOULD be given that reflects the nature of the problem. The recipient of the entity MUST NOT ignore any Content-* (e.g. Content-Range) headers that it does not understand or implement and MUST return a 501 (Not Implemented) response in such cases.

If the request passes through a cache and the Request-URI identifies one or more currently cached entities, those entries SHOULD be treated as stale. Responses to this method are not cacheable.

The fundamental difference between the POST and PUT requests is reflected in the different meaning of the Request-URI. The URI in a POST request identifies the resource that will handle the enclosed entity. That resource might be a data-accepting process, a gateway to some other protocol, or a separate entity that accepts annotations. In contrast, the URI in a PUT request identifies the entity enclosed with the request -- the user agent knows what URI is intended and the server MUST NOT attempt to apply the request to some other resource. If the server desires that the request be applied to a different URI,

it MUST send a 301 (Moved Permanently) response; the user agent MAY then make its own decision regarding whether or not to redirect the request.

A single resource MAY be identified by many different URIs. For example, an article might have a URI for identifying "the current version" which is separate from the URI identifying each particular version. In this case, a PUT request on a general URI might result in several other URIs being defined by the origin server.

HTTP/1.1 does not define how a PUT method affects the state of an origin server.

PUT requests MUST obey the message transmission requirements.

Unless otherwise specified for a particular entity-header, the entity-headers in the PUT request SHOULD be applied to the resource created or modified by the PUT.

The DELETE method requests that the origin server delete the resource identified by the Request-URI. This method MAY be overridden by human intervention (or other means) on the origin server. The client cannot be guaranteed that the operation has been carried out, even if the status code returned from the origin server indicates that the action has been completed successfully. However, the server SHOULD NOT indicate success unless, at the time the response is given, it intends to delete the resource or move it to an inaccessible location.

A successful response SHOULD be 200 (OK) if the response includes an entity describing the status, 202 (Accepted) if the action has not yet been enacted, or 204 (No Content) if the action has been enacted but the response does not include an entity.

If the request passes through a cache and the Request-URI identifies one or more currently cached entities, those entries SHOULD be treated as stale. Responses to this method are not cacheable.

Echoes back the received request, so that a client can see what intermediate servers are adding or changing in the request.

TRACE allows the client to see what is being received at the other end of the request chain and use that data for testing or diagnostic information. The value of the Via header field is of particular interest, since it acts as a trace of the request chain. Use of the Max-Forwards header field allows the client to limit the length of the request chain, which is useful for testing a chain of proxies forwarding messages in an infinite loop.

Returns the HTTP methods that the server supports for specified URL. This can be used to check the functionality of a web server by requesting '*' instead of a specific resource.

The OPTIONS method represents a request for information about the communication options available on the request/response chain identified by the Request-URI. This method allows the client to determine the options and/or requirements associated with a resource, or the capabilities of a server, without implying a resource action or initiating a resource retrieval.

Responses to this method are not cacheable.

If the OPTIONS request includes an entity-body (as indicated by the presence of Content-Length or Transfer-Encoding), then the media type MUST be indicated by a Content-Type field. Although this specification does not define any use for such a body, future extensions to HTTP might use the OPTIONS body to make more detailed queries on the server. A server that does not support such an extension MAY discard the request body.

If the Request-URI is an asterisk ("*"), the OPTIONS request is intended to apply to the server in general rather than to a specific resource. Since a server's communication options typically depend on the resource, the "*" request is only useful as a "ping" or "no-op" type of method; it does nothing beyond allowing the client to test the capabilities of the server. For example, this can be used to test a proxy for HTTP/1.1 compliance (or lack thereof).

If the Request-URI is not an asterisk, the OPTIONS request applies only to the options that are available when communicating with that resource.

A 200 response SHOULD include any header fields that indicate optional features implemented by the server and applicable to that resource (e.g., Allow), possibly including extensions not defined by this specification. The response body, if any, SHOULD also include information about the communication options. The format for such a

body is not defined by this specification, but might be defined by future extensions to HTTP. Content negotiation MAY be used to select the appropriate response format. If no response body is included, the response MUST include a Content-Length field with a field-value of "0".

The Max-Forwards request-header field MAY be used to target a specific proxy in the request chain. When a proxy receives an OPTIONS request on an absoluteURI for which request forwarding is permitted, the proxy MUST check for a Max-Forwards field. If the Max-Forwards field-value is zero ("0"), the proxy MUST NOT forward the message; instead, the proxy SHOULD respond with its own communication options. If the Max-Forwards field-value is an integer greater than zero, the proxy MUST decrement the field-value when it forwards the request. If no Max-Forwards field is present in the request, then the forwarded request MUST NOT include a Max-Forwards field.

Converts the request connection to a transparent TCP/IP tunnel, usually to facilitate SSL-encrypted communication (HTTPS) through an unencrypted HTTP proxy. HTTP servers are required to implement at least the GET and HEAD methods and, whenever possible, also the OPTIONS method.

Safe methods and Idempotent methods

Some of the above methods are safe to use but some of them are not.
Safe methods
Some methods (for example, HEAD, GET, OPTIONS and TRACE) are defined as safe, which means they are intended only for information retrieval and should not change the state of the server. In other words, they should not have side effects, beyond relatively harmless effects such as logging, caching, the serving of banner advertisements or incrementing a web counter. Making arbitrary GET requests without regard to the context of the application's state should therefore be considered safe.
By contrast, methods such as POST, PUT and DELETE are intended for actions which may cause side effects either on the server, or external side effects such as financial transactions or transmission of email. Such methods are therefore not usually used by conforming web robots or web crawlers, which tend to make requests without regard to context or consequences.

Despite the prescribed safety of GET requests, in practice their handling by the server is not technically limited in any way, and careless or deliberate programming can just as easily (or more easily, due to lack of user agent precautions) cause non-trivial changes on the server. This is discouraged, because it can cause problems for Web caching, search engines and other automated agents, which can make unintended changes on the server.

Idempotent methods and web applications
Methods PUT and DELETE are defined to be idempotent, meaning that multiple identical requests should have the same effect as a single request. Methods GET, HEAD, OPTIONS and TRACE, being prescribed as safe, should also be idempotent, as HTTP is a stateless protocol.
By contrast, the POST method is not necessarily idempotent, and therefore sending an identical POST request multiple times may further affect state or cause further side effects (such as financial transactions). In some cases this may be desirable, but in other cases this could be due to an accident, such as when a user does not realize that their action will result in sending another request, or they did not receive adequate feedback that their first request was successful. While web browsers may show alert dialog boxes to warn users in some cases where reloading a page may re-submit a POST request, it is generally up to the web application to handle cases where a POST request should not be submitted more than once.

Note that whether a method is idempotent is not enforced by the protocol or web server. It is perfectly possible to write a web application in which (for example) a database insert or other non-idempotent action is triggered by a GET or other request. Ignoring this recommendation, however, may result in undesirable consequences if a user agent assumes that repeating the same request is safe when it isn't.

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