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A Gemini Client in Rust - 13 Conclusion

Hello! We are now on our final chapter! We aren't going to be doing anything here so settle in and relax. We'll just go over the tutorial and go over some of my thoughts about it.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Thoughts on the Gemini Client

We now have a very basic Gemini client and we can traverse Gemini space easily. We also now know exactly how our client works so when we run into something we don't like in it's behavior, we can fix it! This is a powerful ability.

Surprisingly I ended up with around 550 lines of code for the Gemini client and about 500 lines of code for the Gopher client. I had expected the difference to be larger. I thought the Gemini client was much harder, dealing with TLS, parsing Gemini pages and handling the statuses was all cognitively harder to get a hold on but the code count doesn't seem to show that. Gemini is a more complex protocol than Gopher but it is still relatively simple. You can definitely hold the entire spec in your head!

The hardest part of Gemini was indeed the TLS logic, it was likely because we used rust and rustls that it took longer than I thought it would. I'm curious how other languages and crates deal with TLS and if maybe I had made it more difficult for myself.

One thing I wish I did was to handle mime types earlier. Full disclosure, I had forgotten the mime types! If it was earlier I think I could have found a better place to handle them, currently it is a bit of hack. We do our processing in the visit function and then send back a message via the response.body. I don't like reusing parts of an object to send back messages. That isn't what that part of the object was intended for.

Some enhancement ideas, feel free to leave your own below as well!

  • Support for arrow keys to go through a command history
  • Command completion
  • Different colours for valid and invalid commands
  • Ability to follow a link and then when we do cd .. to go back, to have the page display from where we left off.
  • Display location in the prompt
  • Word wrapping. I really like Gopher's 80 character style.
  • Instead of showing the next page, allow use for arrow keys for line by line

Making the Gopher client and the Gemini client was fun, the Gopher client was done in a weekend, the Gemini client I would say would take 2 weekends, maybe 3 if you run into problems with TLS.

I still like Gopher more, the idea of everything being part of the filesystem I resonate with whereas Gemini feels a little too web like. But I need to give Gemini more of a chance.

I am enjoying working with Rust, and I think string handling and pattern matching I have a light handle on. File IO is straightforward and even web scraping is doable. It's not as intuitive as python or javascript but I think more time spent with rust as a primary language could be good.

Thank you for reading!

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