[NTLK] Navigating the web with the newton

Matej Horvat matej.horvat at guest.arnes.si
Fri Dec 22 14:36:56 EST 2017

On Fri, 22 Dec 2017 07:53:40 +0100, B Dudney <kosmicdollop at saber.net>  

> Abraham, I’m not trying to pour cold water on your idea, but I’m
> concerned you may spend a lot of time before discovering Newt is beyond
> what you have in mind.

Not at all, especially if you stick to mobile/lightweight versions of  
sites. A great recent example is http://lite.cnn.io/ (just pointing it  
out, before anyone accuses me of being biased).

Here are some of the tricks I used in PWproxy (my proxy for  
NewtonWWW/PocketWeb) to compact pages (in some cases down to 20% of their  
original size):

* Remove unneeded whitespace. In HTML, more than one space/line break/tab  
does not make a difference, except in <pre> elements.
* Remove all comments (<!-- ... -->), <script>, <link>, and <style>  
elements. (This and the above will already make up most of the savings.)
* Remove tags (but not the text between them!) that Newton browsers don't  
care about and therefore don't render differently from normal text, for  
example <abbr>, <label>, <noscript>, <span>, etc. Most of the new HTML5  
elements fall into this category. (The two most well-known HTML5 elements,  
<audio> and <video>, should be removed completely.)
* Actually, just remove _all_ tags except those that you know are  
supported by the browser. HTML is designed so that (in theory) pages  
should work if browsers ignore unknown tags, so you will not break  
anything by removing them outright.
* Remove </p> and </li> tags (but not the opening ones) since they're not  
required in HTML.
* If you don't want images at all (not just "load on demand"), remove  
<img> elements, since the URLs in them tend to be pretty long.
* Replace certain tags with other ones which are semantically different  
but render the same and are shorter, for example <strong> with <b>, and  
<em> and <var> with <i>.

If you want images, you should preprocess them (e.g. with ImageMagick) to  
dither them down to 1-bit (or 4-bit) and scale them down to the Newton's  
screen size.

With some creativity, I think you can make quite a lot of pages work. At  
the same time, your expectations shouldn't be too high. I was quite  
satisfied with the results I got with PWproxy and NewtonWWW/PocketWeb (and  
that was on Newton OS 1.x); on a MP2x00, you're much less constrained as  
the NewtonScript heap is much larger.

Still, no matter how much you compact pages, there will be some that will  
be simply too big to fit in memory (Wikipedia and forums come to mind).  
The next step in your proxy would be to split them up into multiple parts:  
add <a> elements at the beginning and end to go to the previous/next part.  
The proxy would then interpret a special parameter in the href attribute  
to determine which part to send to the Newton.

At some point, it would be really neat to write such a proxy not just for  
Newton browsers, but also for 680x0 Macs, etc. It's been on my to-do list  
for a long time...

Two other things you can try:

* Gopherspace. Surprisingly, there's no(?) Gopher client for Newton OS,  
but there is Floodgap's public HTTP proxy:  
* http://wiby.me/ (this is more of a curiosity, but you never know - it  
appeared recently)

Good luck!

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