Thursday, January 5, 2023

Handling the TITLE option

The information (i) element isn't any part of the Gopher RFC (most of Gopher is part of RFC 1436, and the Gopher URL is documented in RFC 4266), and therefore neither is the common practice of putting displaying an information element differently when a TITLE is put into the directory entry selector.

Thanks to a GopherSpace crawl, I know that out of about 2100 menus crawled, there were 305 information elements with a TITLE on them -- that's actually a pretty impressive percentage, and presumably it's driven by automated Gopher menu file creation. I'm wondering, though: as the programmer for a Gopher client, how many different Gopher client will render the TITLE elements specially? For that matter, how many Gopher pages put something into column 5, where the "+" in Gopher+ puts the Gopher+ indicator?

(I know that the first version of my own doesn't because I didn't know about the TITLE concept).

Let's start by analyzing pages that have too many columns (e.g., more than 5 columns, which corresponds to having more than 4 embedded tabs). There are five such directory entries in my GopherSpace crawl. Three are from a single page which, when I looked at is, is really an HTML page that's being served up as if it was Gopher. Of the remaining two entries, one has a user string consisting of three tabs instead of real data, and the other (from a different menu) has three tabs too many at the end of the line but and doesn't have any actual data in the columns.

We can also analyze the number of columns in directory entries

Almost all of the Gopher directory entries are the standard four columns. You can hardly tell the actual numbers, but 1907 entries were a single column, 9 were 2 columns, 895 were three, and 6590 were 5. There were 151840 entries with 4 columns.

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