back to article Toaster-friendly alternative web protocol Gemini attracts criticism for becoming exclusive clique

Project Gemini is a new internet protocol designed to be simpler and lighter to make it easier for people to design, run, and use their own websites. Described by network engineer Stéphane Bortzmeyer at FOSDEM 2021 as a new ultra-simple protocol that is modern but "looks retro," it was designed to help the user opt out of " …

  1. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Simplicity

    “ There are working, usable, graphical web browsers that don't support JavaScript”

    While I applaud this idea - everyone here knows just how awful the average website is when it comes to the huge piles of crappy js that they use - I wonder how far you can get with this. More and more websites I have visited lately simply display a blank page if js is disabled. Or you get text but no pictures (or more baffling, you get a few pictures but not the rest - try bing picture search for an example). It’s a shite state of affairs but I can’t help thinking the ship has well and truly sailed on this. I think the idea of a simplified web is fantastic and I wish it all the very best. I’m just not confident in its success - it needs considerable buy-in by many many people, and I think the inertia of a crappy js-chocked web is just too big now

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Simplicity

      Well I run a website for a car club which is all html and css only.

      No need for any javascript or analytics asi get those from the hosting provider for free and they are direct from the server logs.

      The only complex part on the site is the slideshow on the front page.

      Search for East Anglian Tiger Owners Club if you are curious.

      1. Falmari Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Simplicity

        @Giles C You need to update your site 'Next Event: Planning Meeting 23rd Jan 22' ;)

        But seriously a nice uncluttered and responsive site, see icon -->

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Simplicity

          It was updated tonight about 3 hours after I posted that message. I should have done it Sunday night but didn’t get a chance. So if you check now it should say next event breakfast meet 22 Feb.

          Glad you like it, I prefer to keep the site simple as it just needs to get the information out there without fancy stuff getting in the way.

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Simplicity

        Crap! I'm ready for my mid-life crisis and a Tiger might just fit the bill.

        I wonder if they deliver to New Zealand?

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Simplicity

          It depends on the laws allowing the registration and import of cars but if you wanted to I’m sure Jim (tiger racing owner) would discuss the options with you…..

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Simplicity

        Can I donate you a handful of apostophes.

        '''''''''''''''''''''''

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Simplicity

      I went to a site yesterday that sold stuff. Everything was moving - backgrounds, product shoots, "lifestyle" shoots, all over the place, some that followed down the scroll - and this was with my normal level of shields up. It reminded me of those early crappy Flash sites from the early noughties, but in high-definition. I'd lost interest long before I found a way to show what they actually sold, never mind actually buying something.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simplicity

      How are you supposed to run arbitrary code on thousands of unsuspecting user's machines without JavaScript?

    4. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Simplicity

      simply display a blank page if js is disabled

      The js frameworks, originally designed to hide differences between different browsers and js versions, now deliberately break on unsupported environments.

    5. FILE_ID.DIZ
      Megaphone

      Re: Simplicity

      You wish javascript was all to worry about...

      While troubleshooting (or at least validating that our crap wasn't what broke our client's site) a breaking website, I ran across "Blazor" for the first time.

      What blew my mind was the fact that DLLs, a ton of them, were being downloaded by my browser and it "worked".

      How that works on a iPhone or Mac or Linux box, NFC... but apparently Blazor is JFM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simplicity

        any idea how to disable "blazor" shit in the browsers?

        that shits a fucking nightmare

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Simplicity

          Blazor is the kind of slithering horror that WebAssembly has brought us, so maybe if you disable that in your browser it falls back to something slightly less terrible.

      2. ScissorHands

        Re: Simplicity

        Blazor = porting .NET to WebAssembly so it runs in the browser; writing webapps in C# instead of JS(+NPM+Angular+React)

  2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
    Pint

    One of these ---> for Gopher references

    Especially capitalized, because that's the way those boffins at the University of Minnesota meant it to be.

    Early '90s, they even used Gopher+ forms that students would fill in to obtain network accounts (telnet access, email, etc.). Just one of their many tools in addition to SLIP (dial-up for DOS) and Minuet (e-mail, Gopher, and newsreader client for DOS) to help students get connected.

    A toast to my birth state and family school: SKOL!

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: One of these ---> for Gopher references

      Gopher, SLIP and Minuet... my university days are flashing back!

  3. ShadowSystems

    Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    I whole heartedly stand behind the KISS principle. The smaller, lighter, simple the site the fewer security holes inherent in it's use. You can't have JS exploits if you don't use/allow JS in the first place. You don't open the Adobe Flash/PDF reader can of worms if you don't include flash nor PDF's. You are unlikely to introduce glaring security holes if your entire site fits on a 1.44MB floppy & can be parsed by a Human.

    Graphics are fine as long as you keep them small & to a minimum. Full screen backgrounds are not.

    If you feel the need to resort to CSS, consider clubbing yourself in the head with a copy of HTML V1.1 For Dummies until the urge goes away.

    The lighter, smaller, & simple your site, the faster it will transfer from your host to the visitor, the faster & cleaner the visitor's computer will render it, and the more traffic you may enjoy for not being yet another internet cesspit.

    But then whom am I kidding? I'm just an old & crotchety luddite whom created the corporate site for a global telecommunications company, using nothing but Notepad, that fit on said floppy, and gave all our field techs the ability to access any of the terabytes of product repair manuals quickly over a dial up connection.

    *Sigh*

    1. redpawn Silver badge

      Re: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

      Next you'll be suggesting we make our own tea rather than sit our cars at the drive through choking on exhaust fumes waiting for pumpkin spiced 900 calorie drinks. Its just too simple.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

      The basic idea behind CSS is fine, put the formatting for a site in one file, so that you don't have to duplicate it in each html page. It's the same idea as moving code that you want to re-use into a function (or your language's equivalent), rather than having duplicated code throughout your program.

      Sure, people have abused CSS to create abominations, but then people can write some complete nonsense in a basic textfile, and waste your time just as much.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: I'm just an old & crotchety luddite

      Welcome to the club.

      I do prefer Notepad++, though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please make a Gemini version of El Reg

    Pretty please with a cherry on top?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Please make a Gemini version of El Reg

      It must be easy enough to repurpose the old m.theregister view or the current RSS scripts to produce Gemini output.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please make a Gemini version of El Reg

      yeah, waste your time to serve content to 1 or 2 hipsters

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please make a Gemini version of El Reg

        It's coolness points, man! Number of actual users is irrelevant to that....

  5. AdamWill

    simple websites

    "Maybe it's time for a new contest to design the most minimalist websites possible. Sites written in nothing but HTML; no Javascript, no CSS, just flat, non-interactive web pages, but which still look good and work well."

    The Fedora nightlies page:

    https://openqa.fedoraproject.org/nightlies.html

    provides links to the most recent nightly build for each Fedora image, plus for images which are tested by openQA, an indication of whether they passed tests or not (green link if all tests passed, red link if any failed), and a 'last known good' link to the most recent image that passed all tests. For images where tests failed, if you mouseover the link, it displays a list of the failed tests and links to them.

    It's built by a static generator:

    https://pagure.io/fedora_nightlies/blob/main/f/fedora_nightlies.py

    which produces valid (per w3c) and intentionally-human-readable HTML, using its own code, in less than a thousand LoC. With no Javascript. It does have a small amount of in-line CSS - this is necessary to implement the mouseover-results-list feature. The page is generated any time new images or test results appear.

    The thing about the "modern web" is that the old web is all still there. You don't *have* to build dynamic websites on huge javascript frameworks. You can just write or generate HTML and it works fine. It's also pretty easy to host if all you want to host is static HTML. So, efforts like this do seem a bit pointless, because if you want to use or host an "ancient" web site, you can just...do that.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: simple websites

      I did a wget on the fedora_nightlies.py URL.

      Imagine my face when I loaded it up in emacs, and it was the weirdest looking Python code I'd ever seen. Rather reminiscent of HTML, as a matter of fact.

      Still can't trust an extension...

      1. AdamWill

        Re: simple websites

        Heh, true. Raw link, if you want: https://pagure.io/fedora_nightlies/raw/main/f/fedora_nightlies.py

    2. dafe

      Re: simple websites

      What I like about Gemini as a protocol is that the headers do not contain more data than the actual content.

      The header overhead is the problem that SPDY, now HTTP/2, was supposed to solve by compressing the headers into binary representations (not completely unlike MQTT aliases) and reusing those between multiplexed channels, thus introducing several new classes of potential bugs while reducing debuggability.

      HTML in all its gory is still usable with Gemini. The proposed replacement hypertext markup is simple, but also inflexible. I'd rather use CommonMark instead. I very much like the idea that presentation is up to the user. In case the author wants control over fonts and colours, then DVI and PDF are better formats anyway – unlike HTML, they distinguish between the spacing between words and sentences.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: simple websites

      So, efforts like this do seem a bit pointless, because if you want to use or host an "ancient" web site, you can just...do that.

      You can but others don't, and there's no client where you can flick the switch to the old web and be sure that every page downloaded is readable and lightweight.

      1. AdamWill

        Re: simple websites

        Well, sure, but then, you can't be sure others are going to publish in "Geminispace" or similar efforts either. So, if you don't care what content you get, you just want *any old* basic content, sure, I guess it's good.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: simple websites

          probably useful, to keep the hipsters self flagellation away from the real world.

          they can circular wank each other on being simple folk.

    4. Daniel Pfeiffer

      Re: simple websites

      I've taken a similer approach with my https://perl1liner.sourceforge.io/ – generated, albeit tweaked with css only.

      Not sure what the article means with pure html, would that forego style="…"? Otherwise it's almost equivalent (with tons of repetition), sans :hover, which has to be on a rule.

      Sadly what started out as a playful example, but lead to serious insights which I found nowhere else, https://perl1liner.sourceforge.io/Collatz/ needed a js shim. The formula in there worked fine as developed for Firefox. But to my shock Chrome doesn't understand MathML. Why would a worthy competitor to Microsoft bother with existing standards, when they might just as well force webassembly and FLoC on the world…

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fucking pointless

    re-inventing the fucking wheel.

    Stick it in the pile of useless shit that's not needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: fucking pointless

      Presumably you'd say the same about amateur radio? Or about anything else that's done just for fun?

    2. JohnGrantNineTiles

      Re: fucking pointless

      Come back John Dunlop all is forgiven.

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