Attention TADS Programmers

So I’ve been learning TADS the past few weeks and love the language. I’ve chosen it over Inform for many reasons.

I did however get a little worried when I noticed there is really nobody posting on this forum. Makes me feel like its a dying language. Then I was thinking… I have yet to have a single question that I was not able to answer using the manuals offered for TADS right in the workbench. Maybe people don’t post much about TADS because people using the language aren’t getting stuck on anything long enough that they need to ask a question on the forum.

So in an attempt to prove a point to myself and feel less isolated i was wondering if anyone that uses TADS could just post a simple reply(even if its just a smiley) in this thread. Let me and others know TADS programmers are still alive and active on this forum.

This reminds me I felt the need to write a perl program to help me with something on my day job. I felt real lonely because there seemed to be no more perl programmers around anywhere on the internet (perhaps usenet), nor any visible leadership figures. It’s pretty dead, about as dead as Lisp…

then again, the program was written and worked. and that’s what really matters…

I would enjoy TADS a lot more if it wasn’t Windows-centric. That does not bode well in a time when people can write IF for any browser with a little javascript and libs…

I dunno, the forum gets about 20 posts/month which is not that bad really. In practice there’s a problem only if posts aren’t getting answers and problems aren’t being solved, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

As a relative newcomer to TADS myself—first exposure last March, 1 1/2 games under my belt so far :slight_smile:—I’ve used this forum quite a bit and have found it invaluable.

I think the low volume of traffic does in fact speak to the self sufficiency of programmers, the openness of the language, and the collection of documentation that comes with the SDK.

I’ve yet to post a question that hasn’t received a response that either answered the question outright or pointed me in the direction I needed to go.


It’s true that the user base is small. The user base of IF programmers using any language is tiny. On the other hand, several people who have written T3 games in the past (including both Eric Eve and I) are no longer writing games, but are actively supporting T3 authors on this forum. At least, I can’t speak for Eric, I don’t know what he’s up to, but my impression is that for the past couple of years he’s been devoting all of his IF programming time to the development of adv3lite.

FWIW, I agree that a MacOS port of Workbench would be a wonderful thing, but given the tiny size of the community, probably nobody has the incentive to do it. You can program T3 games in a Mac using command lines in the Terminal, or run Workbench in a Windows emulator. In the latter scenario Workbench is about 99% functional – there are just a couple of little failures.

With respect to whether the language is dying, I would note that Mike Roberts has updated T3 more recently than Graham Nelson has updated I7.


My last couple of games were written in I7, but that’s because they were a collaboration and a speed IF respectively. I still consider TADS3 my primary IF language.

I use TADS 3 myself. I tried Inform 6 when I first started with a modern language. I liked the extra functionality as I had moved up from AGT. I didn’t completely like the feel of the code in i6 though. I found out about TADS 2 shortly after and liked the way code felt and started working with it. I switched to TADS 3 around v3.0.9. I asked many questions here and on the news groups while I learned TADS 3. Most of the time I can find what I need in the manuals now.

I hold an annual children puzzle hunt game here in the Czech Republic and with my friends we are in a constant seek for new puzzle ideas. In 2009 we thought what a surprise would be to present one round of our game as a text adventure. But the few IF systems available for the Czech language are too simple, mainly in line how text games were created on 8-bit computers. I’ve came across the TADS at the time and examined it out of curiosity how text adventures are created in English these days. I’ve quickly realized how smooth playing experience is TADS capable of (and smoothness is crucial to hook young audience) and that it is so well prepared for translation.

So I’ve translated it, made a web playable game, implemented storage server functionality like on IFDB to integrate it with our website, integrated chat into the game and last spring 56 five member teams successfully played. I’ve posted one or two questions in the past and I have one in mind to post in the future. So at least in my case low question count doesn’t mean I’m not using TADS :slight_smile:

Your impression is pretty much correct, Jim. I do have an adv3Lite WIP on the go, but I haven’t actually done much with it for a while. Having got adv3Lite released I’m taking a bit of a rest from it, but TADS 3 is still very much my IF language of choice (even if it’s also fun to dabble in I7 once in a while). I suspect anything I do in the future will use adv3Lite/TADS 3 if only to gain the benefit of the work I’ve put in it and to see what might need fixing and improving in adv3Lite. In the meantime I’m still very much around to maintain adv3Lite and answer questions on it (as well as on TADS 3 in general where I know the answer and someone doesn’t beat me to it).

Ok, I’m still alive and active.

Although having written a few I7 games since 2009, I always had a German translation of Tads 3 in my mind. I began it in 2010 and released the first version in 2012. Sure, there are way more Inform than Tads games and I always hear the argument: Ok, I think Tads is not bad, but I7 is easier. This might be true for the first few programming lines, but when things are getting more complicated, you’ll find out that I7 is not really that easy. It’s rather a matter of giving T3 a chance and hey, there are bunch of excellent books out to learn it …

Every language has its weaknesses and strengths. The strength of Tads are the huge amount of useful classes which can do nearly everything an author might want to accomplish, without the need of writing hundreds of instead rulebooks like Inform7. The disadvantage is that the author has to know or learn about which specific function to override or which property to set to achive the desired effects. So this is relatively easy with Windows Workbench (because the search function might trigger either the manuals or the library source files) but I think it’s rather a mess inside a pure command line enviroment like frobtads under Linux or OSX.

But no, Tads is not dead, and I hope we see more games in the future. I have two WIPs and I can say that surely one of them will be finished in the first half of 2014 and probably be translated into English in the second half. Probably …

Yeah, I mess around in TADS, but I havent worked up the confidence to submit anything yet. Maybe soon…

I’m learning the language now. Really enjoying it actually, it’s very logical and the basic stuff is easy. The complicated parts will probably be complicated, but there’s nobody with a gun to my head, so I can take my time.

I’m working from command line linux, because there was no Workbench available. Is it really that much easier from the Workbench? Organizing everything into files/folders has been pretty straight forward so far.

I can’t remember, is there a debugger in the command line tools?

Workbench has a few convenient debugging features. When there’s a run-time error, it pops open the relevant source file with an arrow that points to the line, and it automatically collects a transcript of each run, so you can rerun whatever you just did by right-clicking. And of course the syntax coloring. If you’re working from the command line you can capture a transcript using the ‘record’ and ‘replay’ commands (if memory serves).

In Workbench you can set breakpoints and step through the code, as in any pro-level IDE. Also, you can watch expressions. Whether the command line tools will do any of this stuff, I don’t know.

Another nice feature is the ‘test x’ command. This is not built into the adv3 library (though it’s built into adv3Lite). There’s an extension you can download that adds it. This lets you build test scripts in your source code and run them from within the game.

I’m using my favourite C++ IDE named Qt Creator on linux and albeit being quite unusual combination, in the end it’s quite convenient workflow. It inherits syntax highlighting from kwrite definitions (thanks Nikos), I can switch between project files on the side panel, I can search whole project, set bookmarks, on one click I can compile game and automatically run prepared test of the whole game which displays colored differences from last transcript considered good with few simple scripts.

Of course I can’t click on error message to open corresponding line in the editor and occasionally miss the debugger, which is the jewel of the workbench. But still I am quite happy and productive on linux.

Thanks, that’s good to know. I’ll try out the Workbench for the next project and see how it feels.

To get Workbench to work on Mac OS X…

  1. Download and install Wine Bottler (
  2. Download the Windows installer for the TAD’s 3 author’s kit (
  3. Open Wine Bottler -> Advanced
    a. Select Prefix Template: new prefix
    b. Select program to install: the TAD’3 installer .exe from step 2
    c. Select Wine Tricks: check ie8 (this is most important- solves previous issues of not being able to create a project)
  4. Hit install. Click through the resulting dialogues. A “Bottle” (a Mac OS X .app) will be created.
  5. Double-click the bottle and select htmltdb3.exe as the executable to run

I do not write a lot of IF, but when I do, I use TADS 3 and adv3Lite.