Some thoughts about Gemini UX

Hans Gerwitz hans at
Mon Feb 22 20:07:20 GMT 2021

I’m a bit afraid to open the lightning-bottle of this list, but feel compelled to bring my design day job to my geek hobbies. So, let me step onto the metaphorical slope with my three wishes for the UX of Geminispace:

## Capsule branding

It’s important for users to experience a sense of place as they navigate (as per Luke Emmet’s “cognitive aspects” thread from May 2020) but also important to give content creators some control over the presentation of their text.

Already we see extensive use of ASCII art. This is retro-cool but I would argue favicons or theme colors are actually *more* minimal, and also more attractive to 21st century users.

Personally, I would be happy if this was hostname-level metadata. But I don’t feel strongly enough about this to argue over favicon.txt. ;-)

## Line orientation

The spec is already clear about this but let me add a new rationale: the line-by-line orientation of gemtext is a huge strength. It will enable a vibrant ecosystem of clients and also UI models: I’m experimenting with a few ideas that simply wouldn’t work with HTML.

Thus, I hope to see no more additions with modes like preformatting. This means I would twist Oliver Simmons’s proposal for appended metadata to something more like:

^^^ author: Hans Gerwitz
^^^ color: #00FF00 

## Inline images

I appreciate the need to avoid spurious network requests, especially across servers. But rules like “user takes action” are impossible to enforce (and scrolling is an action). I’d like to recognize the inevitability of inline media display and specify some clear rules before we end up with unpredictable behaviors across clients.

E.g. clients MAY fetch linked content for inline rendering IF the link URL points to the same server (no scheme or hostname). Clients MUST allow users to disable this auto-fetching. Clients MUST NOT fetch content of unrecognized type. [Unaddressed: how to recognize type? Mime type parameter? “File extensions” on the URL?]

Thanks for reading!

– Hans Gerwitz

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