Re: some of the stuff on is in WWW format

Edward Vielmetti (
Tue, 12 Nov 91 19:03:47 -0500

Message-Id: <>
To: (Jean-Francois Groff)
Subject: Re: some of the stuff on is in WWW format 
In-Reply-To: Your message of Tue, 12 Nov 91 16:36:46.
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 91 19:03:47 -0500
From: Edward Vielmetti <>

>> I just tried to read your news-archives.README with the line-mode
>> browser through the traditional file: access. First-minute comments :

Thanks for the comments.  I realize this is just a first pass for some
of this -- I'm hand editing the files for now, but before too long I
really want to start generating stuff more automatically, best to get
the formats down pat before writing code.

>> The easy fix is to append `.html' to the name of any file that
>> contains HTML tags, but I understand that it will bother people who
>> look at your files without www. 

I'm expecting to generate two (or three, or n) different files
eventually from an SGML source; one will be relatively flat ASCII that
people can read real easily, another will be nice pretty postscript
suitable for paper, and the third the HTML for the browser.  I'm
pretty sure that the available SGML tools (either now or within the
year) will make this reasonable to do, one way or the other.

>> - We agree that the current syntax can be ambiguous, but we want to
>> keep references to local and remote files in the same format, because
>> the very notion of a `remote' file should disappear with wide-area
>> hypertext (remember the new WAN cliche: the network IS the computer).

I guess the only problem here is that the frame of reference (or the
top level directory) may change depending on your access mode;
anonymous FTP shows that tendency, and AFS seems to as well.  I've
abandoned the aftp: bit as I rewrite things, they're just file: now.

>> - Currently, a colon after the host name is used to specify an alternate
>> TCP port number, but a good browser should ignore it if no number is
>> present. In this way, www can be compatible with ange-ftp syntax.

Thanks.  I think it's important -- ange-ftp users includes me, and
since I don't have a real super WWW browser other than line mode I
need to be sure that I don't have to rewrite stuff.  I don't think it
would be to hard to cons up a similar setup to 

>> I'll add this to the wish-list for the `file:' access method :
>>      * if the address ends with a `/', try `ls' instead of `get'.
>>      * try to get an appropriate README file. Try those in order :
>>        README.html, *README*.html, README, *README*, *readme*
>>      * Display that file if found, then build a list of references
>>        for all the files contained in the directory.

There's work going in the IETF Anonymous FTP working group (headed up
by Alan Emtage and Peter Deutsch of archie fame) to work on improving
access to anonymous FTP areas.  A standard for directory description
is sorely lacking, and I think (cross fingers) than an SGML approach
like WWW would have as good a chance as any to get acceptance That's
especially true, *if* can be generated with minimal or no effort by a
site admin.  I'm inclined to called the file
just to steal their good name :-) and make it clear that the file is
designed to be scooped up and processed by other things (future
archies, WWW, WAIS, other hypertext browsers, other indexes).

A first pass would be to take a big archive that you're familiar with
and that is already reasonably well indexed (say the index files from
one of the NeXT archives, or maybe simtel20, or something like that)
and convert the indexes into WWW format.  

>> With the line-mode browser, this will look fine :
>>   blah blah blah. Check out [1] for lots more information.

Fixed (more or less)in the stuff that I'm going back over.  I don't
have a formatter just yet that will display things as they will show
on-screen, & there are style and design conventions involved which I'd
really rather steal from someone than do myself.  A style guide for
html (and a dtd, if you can manage one, so that these things can be
munged with sgml tools) would be great to have.

>> Thank you for all your suggestions. Please continue to provide
>> feedback as you write more html. We're looking forward to read your
>> data seamlessly and pave the way for other ftp site managers.

Happy to be of help, thanks for the comments.  It's a big enough job
to try to map out what's out there on the net, I'd just as soon let
someone else write the nice GUI so I don't have to.

Edward Vielmetti, vice president for research, MSEN Inc.
       MSEN, Inc. 628 Brooks Ann Arbor MI 48103 +1 313 741 1120