Skip to content


Repository files navigation


A Flask extension to support the Gopher protocol.


pypi python tests



A live demonstration of the Flask-Gopher server is available in gopherspace at the following URL:



What is gopher?

Gopher is an alternative to the World Wide Web that peaked in popularity in the early 90's. There are still a handful of gopher sites maintained by enthusiasts; you can learn more about its history at floodgap.

What is flask-gopher?

Flask-Gopher is a Flask extension that adds a thin Gopher -> HTTP compatability layer around the built-in webserver. It allows you to build fully RFC 1466 compliant gopher servers, with complete access to Flask's routing, templating engine, debugger, and more!

Who is this for?

I created this extension because I wanted to experiment with building dynamic gopher applications, and I felt limited by the lack of flexibility in other gopher servers. The target audience is web developers with experience using a high level web framework like Django or Ruby on Rails. You should feel comfortable writing python code and cross-referencing the official Flask documentation.


from flask import Flask, url_for
from flask_gopher import GopherExtension, GopherRequestHandler

app = Flask(__name__)
gopher = GopherExtension(app)

def index():
    return gopher.render_menu('My GopherHole'),'Home', url_for('index')),"Look Ma, it's a gopher server!"))

if __name__ == '__main__':'', 70, request_handler=GopherRequestHandler)


This package requires Python v3.7 or higher

pip install flask_gopher

Building Gopher Menus

Gopher menus are structured text files that display information about the current page and contain links to other gopher resources. A gopher menu is loosely equivalent to an HTML document with only <a> and <span> tags. Each line in the menu has a type that describes what kind of resource it links to (text, binary, html, telnet, etc.).

Flask-Gopher provides several helper methods for constructing gopher menu lines:

Method Link Descriptor Meaning
menu.text 0 Plain text file
menu.dir 1 Gopher menu
menu.ccso 2 CCSO database; other databases
menu.error 3 Error message
menu.binhex 4 Macintosh BinHex file
menu.archive 5 Archive file (zip, tar, gzip)
menu.uuencoded 6 UUEncoded file
menu.query 7 Search query
menu.telnet 8 Telnet session
menu.bin 9 Binary file
menu.gif g GIF format graphics file
menu.image I Other Image file
menu.doc d Word processing document (ps, pdf, doc)
menu.sound s Sound file ; Video file i Information line
menu.title i Title line
menu.html h HTML document

Most of these methods require a text description for the link, and will accept a path selector and a host/port. They return a line of text that has been pre-formatted for a gopher menu. You can then pass all of the lines along into gopher.render_menu() to build the response body.

def index():
    return gopher.render_menu(
        # Link to an internal gopher menu'Home', '/'),

        # Link to an external gopher menu'XKCD comics', '/fun/xkcd', host='', port=70),

        # Link to a static file, using flask.url_for() to build a relative path'Picture of a cat', url_for('static', filename='cat.png')),

        # Link to an external web page'Project source', ''),

        # A text info line'This is informational text'),

        # Plain text will be converted into info lines
        "\n    There's no place\n    like ::1\n",

        # You can also format your links manually
        "0About this page\t/about.txt\t127.0.0.1\t8007")

Here's what the rendered menu looks like as plain text:

$ curl gopher://localhost:8007
1Home	/	8007
1XKCD comics	/fun/xkcd	70
IPicture of a cat	/static/cat.png	8007
hProject source	URL:	8007
iThis is informational text	fake	0
i 	fake	0
i    There's no place	fake	0
i    like ::1	fake	0
i 	fake	0
0About this page	/about.txt	8007

And here's what it looks like inside of a gopher client:


Using Templates

You can use Flask's Jinja2 templating engine to layout gopher menus. Flask-Gopher attaches gopher to the template namespace so you can access the menu helper functions. The recommended naming convention for gopher template files is to add a .gopher suffix. An example template file is shown below:


{{ 'Centered Title' | underline('-') | center }}

{{'Home', url_for('index')) }}

Hello from my gopher template!
Your IP address is {{ request.remote_addr }}

{{ '_' * gopher.width }}
{{ ('Served by ' + request.environ['SERVER_SOFTWARE']) | rjust }}

Call gopher.render_menu_template() from inside of your route to compile the template into a gopher menu.

def index():
    return gopher.render_menu_template('example_menu.gopher')


Gopher and WSGI

Python's WSGI (Web Server Gateway Interface) is an established API that defines how python web servers (gunicorn, mod_wsgi, etc) communicate with application frameworks (Flask, Django, etc). It defines a clean boundary between low-level socket and request handling, and high-level application logic.

WSGI was designed to be a very simple and flexible API, but at its heart it's built around HTTP requests. As such, it incorperates some HTTP specific components like request/response headers and status codes. Gopher is more simplistic and doesn't use these components. Here's an example of the difference in fetching a document with the two protocols:

GET /path HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/plain
Accept-Charset: utf-8
...more headers
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache
Content-Type: text/html
...more headers

In order to resolve the differences between gopher and HTTP, * Flask-Gopher* implements a custom GopherRequestHandler. The handler hooks into the WSGI server (werkzeug.BaseWSGIServer). It reads the first line of every TCP connection and determines which protocol the client is attempting to use. If the client is using gopher, the following assumptions are made:

  • Set the request's REQUEST_METHOD to GET
  • Set the request's SERVER_PROTOCOL (e.g. HTTP/1.1) to gopher
  • Set the request's wsgi.url_scheme (e.g. https) to gopher
  • Discard the response status line
  • Discard all response headers

Doing this makes a gopher connection appear like a normal HTTP request from the perspective of the WSGI application. It also provides metadata hooks that can be accessed from the Flask request. For example, you can respond the the request differently depending on which protocol is being used:

def index():
    if flask.request.scheme == 'gopher':
        return "iThis was a gopher request\tfake\\t0\r\n"
        return "<html><body>This was an HTTP request</body></html>"

Gopher Protocol References

An interesting side note, the python standard library used to contain its own gopher module. It was deprecated in 2.5, and removed in 2.6. (

Module name:   gopherlib
Rationale:     The gopher protocol is not in active use anymore.
Date:          1-Oct-2000.
Documentation: Documented as deprecated since Python 2.5.  Removed
               in Python 2.6.

A reference gopher client still exists in the old python SVN trunk: