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alternate mosaic entry to iubio archive

William R. Pearson wrp at dayhoff.med.Virginia.EDU
Sat Apr 23 07:51:23 EST 1994

In article <Coo4DE.n0q at usenet.ucs.indiana.edu>,
Don Gilbert <gilbertd at sunflower.bio.indiana.edu> wrote:
>I still regard gopher and html/www as competitors, and feel
>that gopher in general is as good or better a protocol for
>network information services as html/http/www.  But the pretty
>face of Mosaic has lured away many people from gopher use.
>If you have a view on gopher+ versus mosaic/http/html/www for use
>in biosciences information services, please feel free to comment here
>or by mail to me.  I'd not like to spend time developing gopher further
>if every one moves away from it to the other side. 
	Although I know very little about gopher (except how to use it),
I believe that Mosaic/lynx has essentially made gopher obsolete.  While
gopher was useful in its time, Mosaic/lynx allows one to do so much more,
so much more easily, and with so much more flexibility, that time
spent on earlier protocols is essentially wasted now.

>Some of point which I see make gopher preferable to mosaic are these:
>gopher is a single protocol,  www is an amalgam of all the internet
>protocols.  The upshot of this is that any usable www client has to
>know a kitchen sink of network protocols, whereas gopher can be a 
>simpler program.  I can put a gopher client inside a more complex
>biosciences program; putting a Mosaic into another program would be
>a larger task.

	From the Mosaic point of view, you would put the biological
program inside of mosaic, rather than vice-versa.  This is what the
NCBI has done with their wonderful Mosaic entrez and GDB has done with
there new mosiac GDB brower.  Because Mosaic offers the capability of
running over the internet or running off of a file, (as on a CD-ROM),
Mosaic provides a platform independent front end for other programs.

>mosaic/www rely on images and rich text heavily, which imposes much
>more demand on network and client computer resources.  Gopher can
>work well over slow telephone lines and on simpler computers.

	I don't see the difference between lynx and gopher for dialup
lines.  With 14.4K modems running less than $150, there aren't many
slow telephone lines anymore.

>hypertext is not as important a way of organizing information as the
>simpler table-of-contents and index format that gopher uses.  Though
>I agree there are cases where hypertext is useful, there are more cases
>where it is more confusing than is a more organized table-of-contents
>style of information.  Macintosh users have had hypertext in the form
>of Hypercard for many years, and I've yet to see any significant use
>of the hypertext capabilities of Hypercard for biological information.

	If you have more than a screen of contents, you want to be
searching for the topic, not paging (that "table" of all the gopher
servers in North America is one of the most unpleasant things about

>gopher presents a "file cabinet" view of network information, compared
>to mosaic's hypertext view.  This is certainly a point of individual
>preference, but I think that the folders and files view thru gopher
>better fits the majority of network information than does hypertext views.
>It is my impression that www server administrators must put in much more
>effort creating a usable HTML view of their information than gopher
>server administrators need to put in organizing data for gopher 

	It is, of course, trivial to provide the file-cabinet view
with hypertext.  For the kinds of things that I want from a database,
hypertext is far more useful.  In particular, GDB's methods for
searching the genome database, showing a record, and then providing
hypertext links to all of the fields in the record, is far easier to
use than any non-hypertext presentation I can imagine.  It is
certainly much nicer than the older direct viewers for the database.

RE: David Steffen's comments -

	Mac Mosaic is by far the more robust of the DOS/MAC Mosaic
implementations.  It is the Window's Mosaic that is bug-ridden and
difficult to use (partly because of the problems with Windows

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