2020-05-30 This site via Gemini

You know I like the small web, the self-hosted sites, feeds, the text life, and sometimes I like older technology, like Gopher. But sometimes these old things have issues. I mean, I like Gopher, but what I want from Gopher is this:

I wrote a simple text server that does that. Sadly, it didn’t take off. What did take off, however, was @solderpunk’s Project Gemini. Well, “take off” as in “more than three people seem to be using it.” But still, that’s cool. I had lots of things I disagreed with, but I’m not going to argue with success.

I feel like we all need to keep that 🔥 fire 🔥 burning! We all lament the breaking of the web. We are all in this together. I see myself as “the wiki person” in all of that. I want simple technology and I want a read/write web.

So here’s what Gemini does right:

Pretty cool, eh? I like it! But there’s more:

And since I had some time, yesterday, I added a Gemini server module to this site. Check it out. (Using a Gemini client, of course.) 😁

I guess what I really like about Gemini is that it allows me to serve Markdown documents.



You might want to check out RFC-7763 and RFC-7764 which describe the text/markdown MIME type.

Sean Conner 2020-05-31 08:01 UTC

Is there anything in particular that you want to point out? I know that this site isn’t serving 100% Markdown. It’s simply serving the raw wiki text, some part of which is Markdown simply because that’s what I’m using, in addition to a plethora of other markup extensions. I find that piping it through mdcat is still better than simply printing it as-is, however.

This made me chuckle:

Pandoc2rfc allows authors to write in “pandoc” that is then transformed to XML and given to xml2rfc. The conversions are, in a way, amusing, as we start off with (almost) plain text, use elaborate XML, and end up with plain text again. – RFC-7764

I do like the CommonMark test suite. That, at least, is something to use for coding. Sadly, it’s also fundamentally incompatible with the way the extensible wiki parser is written as it suggests a two phase approach with the typical separation into block level and inline elements, whereas the wiki uses an approach based on regular expression matching using \G.

The CommonMark test suite currently reports “you failed 450 tests of 624.” But even if I used it, this wiki would never limit itself to just CommonMark. I love the wiki links far too much: [[foo bar]], [[foo bar|text]] and [URL text] are just so much more elegant than the CommonMark variants. For the moment, It’s not clear to me that translating those wiki links to proper Markdown is worth it. And I’m not sure how I’d want to translate the wiki text to Gemini markup, if at all.

I dislike a few things about the Gemini format already:

  • links on a line by themselves
  • mandating \r\n at the end of link lines and at the end of the header line, but not elsewhere
  • not mandating a space after bullet items, leading to a potential confusion of bullet list items and emphasised words (a very old Wiki markup format problem, again!)

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-31 11:59 UTC

Oh, cool! I’ve been following your blog via Gopher, because there’s a perfectly good Android client I can use, but also learned about Gemini a couple of weeks ago, and it looks quite promising. Not perfect, but then again what is? Hopefully it catches on. I’ll pay attention.

Felix 2020-06-01 11:45 UTC

Oh wow, that’s a first for me! 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2020-06-01 13:07 UTC

Just that those RFCs give you a way to designate which Markdown variant is being used, allowing the client a better chance of rendering it correctly.

About the Gemini spec, the line ending and the bullet syntax are in the process of being changed—the \r\n will no longer be mandated for the body of the text, and a mandatory space will be added after a * to designate a list.

Sean Conner 2020-06-01 23:48 UTC

I like those developments!

– Alex Schroeder 2020-06-02 05:55 UTC

I just noticed a Gemini log (Gemlog?) about text wrapping referring to Soweli Lukin. And they use it for browsing Gopher and Gemini on mobile devices! Makes me so happy. 😀

I find the posts on carcosa.net interesting, so that is my reading recommendation. 👍🏻

Another one I like to read is @Shufei who posts in Circumlunar Space.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-06-02 10:53 UTC

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