Re: Is HTTP necessary??

Tim Berners-Lee (
Fri, 28 May 93 17:28:22 +0100

> Date: Mon, 17 May 93 15:02:07 BST
> From: "Peter Lister" <>

> However, the more I think about it, the harder it is to justify
> and httpd. If I can get at all my HTML docs from within Gopher
> why bother?

Of course that doesn't mean that all the gopher clients will be
able to read them, they will get rather confused if they aren't
www clients just using the gopher protocol. Gopher clients can't
handle HTML (or they would be WWW clients almost).

> All the refs from local HTML docs to other http places will
> work OK (won't they??), and I can provide a trivial default page
> httpd (so that the existing WWW community who know us that way are

> The mapping functionality of httpd can be useful, but does it do
> that can't be achieved by bunging symbolic links in a Gopher
> OK, so one can map different filename formats and that has been
> here, if not vital. However, directory browsing is *not* nice with
> httpd if I have to tag every directory with .www_browsable; I want
> inexpert users to be able to publish information, and I forsee
> if they need to do anything "unexpected" like that.

What what what? Sounds out of date. There was always a command line
option -dy to allow ALL directories to be browsed (-dn allowed none,
and -ds was the selctive option which checked .www_browsable).
Nowadays -dy is the default if you just run the daemon.

> HTML is great, but is HTTP worth it? I'm want practical details, so
> don't send me philosophical waffle or flame me for being a traitor
> WWW, cos I'm not.


Don't confuse the protocol with the implementatins of the server.
There are some very sexy server implementations giving access
to databases in a very rich way which you just couldn't do with
Gopher. The full pwer of the format negoctiation is still to
be used by really powerful servers... but don't knock the protcol
or the model for the software. There are a lot of servers. I
hear there is one coming out for the Mac too. The practical problem
will be chosing one.

Here are some arguments. You want the option of hypertext because
it is a better interface for your readers and they deserve nothing
less. If you provide hypertext using a gopher server you will be
being rather weird and won't gain you much. (Anyone doing this to

BTW I noticed that the gopher daemon seems to respond to HTTP
requests, but mishandles full HTTP requests -- so Gopher servers
are almost HTTP servers -- it just takes a small bug fix and you
could use them. Don't know to which servers this applies. You can
try www