Best Practices for Menus

Hey All–

I have a command that lets the player remember large-ish chunks of text. So that players aren’t scrolling through it all, I thought I better put it in a menu of some kind. What’s everybody’s preference for menus? Like an Emily Short “menus” menu that is out of world and requires leaving the game (I personally hate these)? An in-game menu that allows you to choose a number for something? Something different?

Related: I’ve never seen worse documentation than for Short’s “Menus” and “Basic Help Menu.” It really doesn’t explain how to use it at all (like, what’s “toggle”?), and every time I try, I get a run-time error about looking up a non-existent column, even though the columns are very much in existence and correctly written.


I’d recommend my Menus. It’s a modernisation of Short’s, with extra features and screen-reader compatibility. I wrote the docs from scratch and @kamineko said they’re good.

It also has a special book mode that is designed for holding, well, book-like info. It suits holding the content of a re-readable spell book or something. Drew used this feature in Repeat The Ending.

I don’t think this requires any tweaking to run in the latest Inform? The github home is here:

But I remember last time you tried to get an extension from there you had difficulty. So I will attach the two files here:

Menus.i7x (124.9 KB)
Basic Help Menu.i7x (15.5 KB)

Of course I’m always around to help if you have trouble.



I did like Wade’s menus! The screen reader mode really made it an easy choice, I’m always going to pick that option first. But the docs are good. I think I was writing text within the hour, and I’m not very good at this :smiley_cat:

I got tester requests during RTE’s development that I hide some menu options until certain conditions were met in-game, and Wade kindly worked with me to make that happen. This is how chapters are added to the table of contents as the story progressed. They could also be removed, or redirected just as easily, I think.

The source is all public, in case anybody wants to see the implementation.

In-game? Maybe Hybrid Choices would do. I use it for conversation but it could work for other things.


Well, I looked at the extension and it DOES have good documentation and I could work with that. And thanks for the downloads, Wade! It’s amazing how weaponizing incompetence can get a person some nice gifts.

But I just hate out-of-world menus and I didn’t really hear from anyone else what they like. So I’m deferring to my own preference and I decided to just write one that’s in-game, with a numbered system, which ties into a lot of the gameplay anyway.


The standard Menus by Emily Short extension is very bad for screen readers. I’ve been intending for about 11 years to change it to just have a key for each option rather than moving up/down, but I never worked out a good way to handle very long menus. (I suspect the best way may be to simply paginate the menu.)

If Wade’s extension has keys rather than up/down then that sounds great!

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If that’s the route you take, I’d paginate at significantly less than 27 options! (Or 25 options if you have “back” and “quit” keys too…you know what I mean.)

If you prefer it in-world, you may also want to consider AW Freyr’s “Hybrid Choices” which basically allows you to set up “pages” with numbered choices between them the player can type, and you can dynamically switch to “CYOA mode” during play.

HC is a bit tricky to understand, but since it sounds like you just want simple pages of information with links between them, it might be less immersion-breaking than “Menus” which is most often used for instructions and hints.

Steph Cherrywell used it for conversations in “Brain Guzzlers…” and “Zozzled” if you want to see it in action.