saving gopher searches

Julian Humphries jmh3 at POSTOFFICE2.MAIL.CORNELL.EDU
Tue Jan 3 14:37:45 CST 1995


>A problem in using gopher for museum catalogs is in downloading results of
>the searches.  I thought each item retreived had to be opened then mailed
>or saved.   A query with multiple hits is a pain to save.  I sent out a
>query a while back asking for work arounds.  There was little response
>except to use Julian Humphries/MUSE system which appears to the best way to
>go.  However, in reading the gopher directions, I noticed an option:
>
>S : Save current list of items to a file.
>...
>To make the best use of this feature, gopher catalogs could be structure
>with all the data on one line.  Data that are truncated can also be placed
>on additional lines allowing the user to open each record to view all the
>data.
>


Well, I suspect that this is one of those bug/feature kinds of discussions.
Many curators don't want you to download large amounts of catalog
data and the structure of Gopher/WAIS which allows unlimited browsing, but
limited downloading (i.e. one record at a time) makes for the ideal
combination.  Very long single line records would be pretty messy
and unworkable for a variety of reasons (as you note).

As you indicated, MUSE and the MUSEServer technology allows WWW access to
collection databases whereby the full results of a query are returned
in a single search (http://muse.bio.cornell.edu/taxonony/fish).  One
advantage of this method, access wise, is that it is very easy to
control the quantity of data returned and even allow unlimited downloading
for particular domains (e.g. local).  Note that gopher access to
MUSEServer technology is also possible (look under the Cornell section of
the BBC Gopher(gopher://muse.bio.cornell.edu/).  Another advantage is
that because this data is "current" MUSE data, it never requires the
updating and reindexing that Gopher/Wais indices require.  Enough
advertising.

The primary purpose of downloading records, I imagine, would be to
transfer that information into a local database.  This seems a reasonable
purpose and I would guess that an "data exchange" format would be
possible in both gopher and WWW.  We have a "hidden" format for
this purpose in the MUSEServer, but unless Gopher clients support
very long lines and saving of menus (both Unix and Windows do?), then even
this won't be much use.  The ANBG Gopher/Oracle link allows the
retrieval of groups of records in "tagged" (ASN.1 I believe) format which
theoretically allows loading of those data into local databases, although I
don't know of translators for this.

The real question is how much data providers are willing to allow largescale
data transfer without hands on control.  The technological aspects are
easily solvable once you leave the domain of WAIS indexing.  The political
ones, however, are not so easily managed.


Julian Humphries
The Vertebrate Collections and The MUSE Project, Cornell University
83 Brown Road, Building 3
Ithaca, NY  14850
Voice: 607-257-8143      Fax:   607-257-8109
Email: jmh3 at cornell.edu




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