a space case for transparent gemtext compression

Francis Siefken fsiefken at gmail.com
Sat Jun 19 10:34:28 BST 2021

Hi Christian, on Sa 19 jun. 2021 09:15 Christian Seibold <
krixano at mailbox.org> you wrote:

> The last person who emailed on the mailing list was Johann Galle, not me.

I know, in my previous message replied specifically to your message vr 18
june 14:24. Is there something wrong with that?

> Please read my own response again.
> If you're using zips, Lagrange doesn't take 4 user actions, it takes 1.

I understood what you meant yesterday. But in my test with Langrange 1.5.2
and gmnisrv it took 4 steps. With the reference gpub (excellent choice) it
takes 3 steps and it opens an addititional tab. With a gmi zip it says:
"xi.zip is a compressed archive. You can save it as a file to your
Downloads folder: press Ctrl+S or select "Save to Downloads" from the
menu." And then a whole lot more steps. I wish it would take zero steps and
a client would for example automatically gunzip a gmi.gz and display it
inline immediately by default.

> Browsers should implement this, not the protocol. It's that's simple

Will it be? For example Asuka, Amfora, Ariane and Lagrange are nice
browsers but if I read the discussion so far I am sure it will be
implemented in the way I envision. Images and sounds are handled
differently and take at least one or a few user actions. What I hope and
wish for is that one day my Gemini capsule can serve index.gmi.zstd or
index.gmi.ppmd transparently. I trust they can be automatically
decompressed inline in the same tab by visiting browsers, either through
the mime-type route, TLS compression or through a Gemini Content-Encoding
and zstd or ppm server side compression.
You mentioned the dogma browsers should implement this and not the
protocol. I am curious as to what your reason for this is other then that
gemini protocol is supposedly set in stone?
Protocol support has been discussed on list before. On March 10, 2021
Bradley D. Thornton had a similar remark "neither of those two things
(Accessibility or gzip compression) have anything to do with, nor have any
place in discussions, for spec changes" and argued:
* "Gemini is intended (expected, rather) to deliver mostly small files"
* "at 1Gbps it's not really that big of a deal"
 and Solderpunk wrote 16th of January 2020:
* "compression is not a bad thing, but for small content the benefit is not
proportionate to the implementation effort".

But both arguments do not apply in low bandwidth situations (in a forest or
in space), even with an 2000 byte mail like mine you get at least a 50%
reduction which in some situations in space or remote places could
theoretically mean life or death. IMAP has compression, HTTP has
compression (for examplee Content-Encoding: zstd, rfc8478). How hard is it
really, a few extra lines in the server?
I'd think it's not much harder then getting mime-type handling consistently
implemented in Gemini browsers (which in my original post means zero steps
for compressed gemtext). TLS 1.3 has compression on board, it's a security
risk in HTTP session hijacking and all HTTP browsers have turned it off.
But this security risk doesn't apply to Gemini or with SMTP or IMAP. This
would be another way to making this compressed gemtext vision work. Even in
Vinton Cerf's interplanetary DTN bundling protocol compression plays a
role, so why not in the space inspired Gemini protocol if it can be done
easily? And if not, of course I appreciate the basic answer of keeping it
simple. But how simple is the proposed alternative really? The Gempub
doesn't load immediately and I suspect there will always be the extra
download and open step. Of course I can send patches, fork browsers or roll
my own gemini client and encourage people to additionally compress their
individual gemtexts with PPMd and their capsule with Gempub.

Francis Siefken (NL)
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