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Forwarded message: > > Date: 9 May 92 22:48:42 GMT > X-From: email@example.com (Iowa Student Computer Association) > Subject: [alt.gopher] Panda > Newsgroups: comp.archives > > Archive-name: auto/alt.gopher/Panda > > > Panda is a program being developed at the University of Iowa for > campus network use. The eventual goal is to provide a common, > user-friendly, secure front end for most internet services (FTP, > Gopher, UseNet, DOC (a BBS server), mail, talk, write) so that the > average user can sit down at a terminal/home PC and start off using > the internet without learning Unix. In addition, since the > communications will be secure, it will be a good client to be used in a > broadcast network situation (for example, personal Macs on an > ethernet network in a dorm). Instead of making servers that speak gopher > out one side and other services out the other, we're working on making > the client be able to speak to the servers directly, as well as a > programming language so that the client can "download" a program to > speak to a brand new server (a simple scripting language, really). > Right now, we've taken the "gopher" program and modified both > the client ("panda") and the server ("pgopherd") heavily. We liked the > gopher client look (for curses), so we used that as our launching point > for the project. > In its current form, Panda is just a souped up gopher client, but by > fall we should have many of the above services up and running. The > Panda client will *always* speak gopher, so people currently using > gopher may be interested in some of the changes we've done to the > Panda client. > If you'd like to give Panda a try, telnet to "panda.uiowa.edu" and > follow the prompts (if all you have is rlogin, use the account name > "panda" on that machine). > We're putting up both halves of Panda, as well as a few other > utilities, up for anonymous FTP from chop.isca.uiowa.edu, *BUT* it is > in a very rough form. The documentation is incomplete, and > although both sides have been ported to an Encore Multi-Max, a > NeXT, and an Apollo (DOMAIN), we make no porting assurances. In > other words, at this point you're on your own. We apologize and will > be working to make it smoother as time permits. > > What follows is a brief listing of the extensions to the basic gopher > stuff whenever we grabbed it: > > Client enhancements: > Still communicates with all other gopher servers, transparently to > the user. > Ability to add informational text to the tops of menus. This makes > menus look a *lot* nicer and are much more readable than plain > menus. See the sample screen later in this note. > Command-Line interface. This allows for more options than the > hot-key version (as our work with ISCABBS has taught us), which > will be particularly important as more services are added. > Screen updates have been changed slightly to work better over a > slow-modem link. > Compu$erve-style "go commands" are supported. You can type "go > movies" and go directly to the local movie listing without wading > through the menus. These aliases are globals to the entire campus, > so they require no setup by the user. Newpaper articles sometimes > include what the "go shortcut" is on Panda for more information. > Users can "yank" an option, which adds it to their own personal > main menu. This is a lot like the bookmark on the PC client. > A longer form of help that allows for an online reference guide > (vaguely hypertextish). > The ability to support remote printing, using the pgopherd server. > This allows the user to select a printer froma list of available > printing locations, and currently supports three non-connected > printing systems at the University of Iowa. The whole printing thing > is really slick.... > Little things, like minor improvements to CSO, a "top" command, > dynamic one-line help, and so on. > > Server Enhancements: > Menu command language changes (described below). > Ability to update/create files from a remote location, including > flexible password validation. > Ability to resolve the shortcuts for the "go" command. > Ability to accept a file remotely and execute a command with the > input file (which is how we do printing). > > > We enhanced an old version of gopher to make it do *exactly* what > we wanted, in terms of how our directories are laid out. Although > they are still around, side files will not be supported in the future, > and we're only going to support one way of setting up pgopherd > servers, which is the way we've found easiest. Sorry. > The current way of getting menu pages by a directory listing of a > directory is still supported, but that doesn't work well: the order is > based on when the file was created and other files deleted, you end > up with really long file names, your file names have wonky > characters in them, and so on. Although we still support it, and will > continue to do so, this is not the recommended way. > The specification of an "order" was cumbersome, and we didn't > add it to our server and have no plans to do so. > Instead, we expanded the capabilities of the "link" file (the ones > which are currently read as files beginning with a dot) to be able to > work around all of our above problems. We call these files "Menu > Definition Files" (MDF), and to "read a file as an MDF" means totry to > parse the contents and match it to the MDF format, and spit out a > gopher menu to the client. > > 1) If a directory is named as type "1" (directory), then it is > handled like always, with one exception: if a file named "dir.info" > exists in that directory, it is processed as a MDF file and the rest of > the directory is ignored. As always, any file in that directory whose > name begins with a dot is processed as an MDF file, and certain file > names are always skipped over. > > 2) If a file is named as type "1" (directory), then that file is > processed as an MDF file and that's it. > > > These two simple changes allow for a *much* easier to maintain > file tree. For example, for one department in the University of Iowa, > the directory contains three .mnu files and a bunch of .txt files. The > .mnu files point to the .txt files (one .mnu file also contains entries > that point to the other two .mnu files as submenus), and everything > is easy to maintain using standard Unix utilities. > > The MDF is a lot like the "old link" format used in gopher servers. > Each menu option reads like the following: > > Type=0 > Name=Registrar's Office > Path=~/registrar/main.mnu > Host=chop.isca.uiowa.edu > Port=8337 > > > If either the "Host" or the "Port" lines are missing, the server > assumes the current host and the current post (that is, it assumes > itself). If the Path begins with "~/", then the rest of the path is > relative to the directory that contains the MDF file, which allows > trees to be moved pretty easily. > > In addition, anything appearing between the lines ".info" and > ".endinfo" is read-only text to be displayed at the top of the menu. > An example of one of our menus follows: > > > .info > This is the May edition of Passport, the newsletter for the Office of > International Education and Services (OIES). You can go directly to this > menu by typing "go passport" at any Command=> prompt. > > .endinfo > > Type=0 > Name=About Passport > Path=~/about.txt > > Type=0 > Name=Current News > Path=~/current.txt > > Type=1 > Name=Information About Immigration > Path=~/immig.mnu > > Type=0 > Name=Calendar of Upcoming Events > Path=~/calendar.txt > > Type=0 > Name=Employment Opportunities for Graduates > Path=~/employ.txt > > Type=0 > Name=Financial Aid > Path=~/finaid.txt > > Type=0 > Name=Off-Campus Educational Opportunities > Path=~/off-camp.txt > > Type=0 > Name=Nationality Organization Officers > Path=~/leaders.txt > > Type=1 > Name=Health Information > Path=~/health.mnu > > Type=0 > Name=Feature Stories with an International Theme > Path=~/features.txt > > > > Produces the following menu on a Panda client: > > ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- > Page: 1 of 1 University of Iowa Panda (v. 0.8) > > Passport: News & Information for Foreign Students and Scholars > > This is the May edition of Passport, the newsletter for the Office of > International Education and Services (OIES). You can go directly to this > menu by typing "go passport" at any Command=> prompt. > > --> 1. About Passport > 2. Current News > 3. Information About Immigration... > 4. Calendar of Upcoming Events > 5. Employment Opportunities for Graduates > 6. Financial Aid > 7. Off-Campus Educational Opportunities > 8. Nationality Organization Officers > 9. Health Information... > 10. Feature Stories with an International Theme > > > Command==> > ?-Help Up-Prev. Menu > ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- > > > And has the following directory on our pgopherd server: > about.txt em-105-h.txt fsaf.txt immigadv.txt off-camp.txt > calendar.txt employ.txt health.mnu immigr.mnu pt.txt > current.txt f-1-on-c.txt health.txt info-sht.txt shs.txt > em-101-h.txt f1status.txt helth-mr.txt leaders.txt ucs.txt > em-103-h.txt features.txt immig.mnu main.mnu > em-104-h.txt finaid.txt immig.txt mbsclf.txt > > which is a lot easier to handle. > > Anyway, that's our Project Panda in a nutshell. If you're interested > in our future directions, or what we're doing to increase sucure > communications through the internet, telnet to "bbs.isca.uiowa.edu" and join > the Panda> room. Or send me personal E-Mail. Thanks for your time. > > > Lee Brintle | ``And so, I leave you with this final word: > Director, Project Panda | twang.'' > ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gleason Sackman BBS: firstname.lastname@example.org Coordinator, Technical Operations Internet: email@example.com SENDIT - NoDak's K-12 Telcom Network Bitnet: firstname.lastname@example.org BOX 5164, NDSU Computer Center Voice: (701)237-8109 Fargo, ND 58105 Fax: (701)237-8541