Inform 7 documentation and resources

How to Not Lose This Post

Important: References and Useful threads/posts, below have many answers you couldn’t find in the docs. Exploring them is rewarding.

Inform 7 10.1 (current release)

I7 10.1.2 and IDEs for Mac, Windows, and Linux. The 10.1 release notes detail changes and bugfixes.

10.1 renders some specifics on this page out of date. The next release will be 11.0. No schedule has been announced.

9.3/6M62 (previous, released 2015-12-24)

Tutorials

Excellent: start here.

Installation

@Juhana’s Borogove lets you edit and run I7 (10.1, 9.3/6M62, or 8.5/6G60) online: experiment without installing anything. Borogove snippets allows sharing code examples.

Official packages mentioned below available at I7 Downloads.

MacOS Use the package on the I7 site; don't use the App store's. There are known issues with [slowness on machines with TouchBars](https://intfiction.org/t/49086/26) and [the cursor disappearing in Dark Mode](https://intfiction.org/t/inform-on-mac-no-cursor/44491/2). An [unofficial MacOS IDE release](https://github.com/angstsmurf/Inform/releases/tag/v.1.68.unofficial) addresses these. Testing examples in Extension Projects doesn't work.
Windows Use the package on the I7 site (said to work with any version of Windows from XP SP 3 on). Or there's a current [beta release of a new Windows version](https://github.com/DavidKinder/Windows-Inform7/releases/latest) that allows compiling for 6L02 and 6L38 as well as 6M62. It's 64-bit-only, and has been tested only on Windows 10, but may work with older versions. Be warned that there have been multiple reports of security/antivirus programs causing problems with it: [Avast](https://intfiction.org/t/46657/3), [AVG](https://intfiction.org/t/52338/2), [Windows Defender](https://intfiction.org/t/10165).
Linux The 6M62 IDE package have uses GTK2; for a long time, GTK3 has been the norm, making the IDE hard to build on a modern Linux. ## Unofficial rpm/deb IDE packages - [gnome-inform7-builds](https://github.com/interactivefiction/gnome-inform7-builds/tree/master) - [Dependencies for gnome-inform7 package](https://intfiction.org/t/43329/74) The official download page also offers a CLI-only version for Linux, which comes with "the cheesy Perl interface". Or consult [How to use ni, inform6, and cBlorb by CLI](https://intfiction.org/t/50108) for info on using those commands directly. Some projects to help are [Vimform7](https://intfiction.org/t/45638), the [Inform 7 extension for VS code](https://intfiction.org/t/47175), [Spaceformacs](https://intfiction.org/t/46440), and [inf7](https://intfiction.org/t//50931).

Versions of ni prior to 6M62 are incompatible with Linux kernels >= 4.11 (from 2017). To build for 6L38 or older use an old Linux in a VM or Windows Inform in WINE (or use 6G60 online at playfic.com or borogove.app).

The official packages include components that have more recent versions. Some updates:

Versions

Most things written about 6L02 or 6L38 remain relevant for 6M62. 6L02 had many backwards-incompatible changes: code written for 6G60 or earlier is unlikely to compile in 6L02 or later. This post usually notes the version as of which something was current.

Manuals/Books

References

The actual syntax the I7 compiler uses to parse I7 code is in Languages/English/Syntax.preform in your installation’s Internal directory. The Backus-Naur Form syntax provided isn’t accurate. See the Syntax.preform documentation PDF (6L02). Syntax.preform also lets you see what irregular verbs and plurals Inform 7 handles and how.

Extensions

Counterfeit Monkey’s Extensions: beyond the many unique extensions, many other extensions included here are modified from their original versions.

Separate from the Authoring > Inform 7 category here, there is a Technical Development > Inform Extensions category chiefly discussing issues with existing published extensions

Glulx/Glk extensions ecosystem

Extension Writing Guides:

Standard Rules

I7 includes the Standard Rules with every game. They’re well-commented and the authority on the I7 World Model and I7’s defaults (they used to be labeled Appendix A of the documentation). They can be browsed in the IDE. (See “Contents” within any compiled game.)

Note the warning in Writing in Inform 27.14: things in the SR that look modifiable may not really be; they could be interdependent with something hard-coded in the compiler. And beware that all of the past three versions’ Standard Rules (6L02, 6L38, 6M62) are marked Version 3/120430, but each is different. (Likewise, 6E59 through 6G60’s Standard Rules are all marked Version 2/090402 but each is different.)

Games/examples with available Source Code

Inform 6

I7 compiles to Inform 6 before that gets compiled to Glulx or z-code. The Inform 6 Standard Library isn’t involved; I7 uses the I6 Template Layer that every Inform installation has under Internal/I6T. These used to be labeled Appendix B of the documentation: their comments often document things that aren’t documented elsewhere.

There are places where the best or only way to do something is by interacting directly with the I6 layer, as many extensions do, other places where I7 behaviors can be better understood by understanding them as an artifact of I6 representations, and times when reading your project’s auto.inf (the I6 code that I7 generated) is useful to investigate problems.

Useful threads/posts

Licensing

How to Organize/Structure Your Project

There’s no one answer, so here are multiple answers (see games with available source code for examples.)

Bugs

9.3 is no longer maintained, but 10.1 fixes several bugs in 9.3. You can search for known bugs and their status or report bugs on the I7 bug tracker. If you’re not sure whether you’ve found a bug, post code that shows the issue to the I7 category and ask.

The 6M62 Patches by Friends of I7 extension provides fixes for some known issues in 9.3/6M62.

The Inform 6 that shipped with 9.3/6M62 was 6.33N. The current version is 6.41. Bugs in (the current) Inform 6 can be reported at the Inform 7 bug tracker

The old Inform 7 suggestion forum is accessible via Wayback Machine.

Infrastructure

Inform 6 compiles to your choice of glulx or the Z-machine (v8 only – I7 games don’t fit in the other versions).

Glulx

Glulx interpreter apps include one (or more) of:

Others:

Glulx Inform Technical Reference

Glk

Glulx I/O is via the Glk API; glulx terps must be built with a Glk library (Emacs-glulx/Zags’ are built-in).

  • cheapglk (no window, no status line, just streams of input and output; of interest largely for testing and development)
  • glkterm (curses library, widely available for anything UNIX-ish)
  • glktermw (“wide char” glkterm for Unicode characters beyond Latin1)
  • GlkOte (Javascript implementation used by Quixe and Lectrote)
  • cheap-glkote is the Glkote variant underlying the ElseIFPlayer
  • remglk (Receives/emits JSON objects on stdin/stdout; can represent multiple windows and most Glk events)
  • CocoaGlk (used by the I7 Mac IDE)

Glk per its spec doesn’t offer the text color control that would be necessary to match the Z-machine. The non-standard Gargoyle Glk extensions can do so. Implementations including them:

Differences between javascript & C Glk APIs

The results of display the boxed quotation look bad with Glk. Spatterlight, Gargoyle, Lectrote, and Parchment use Glk not just for Glulx but also for Z-machine I/O, so Z-machine games inherit boxed text quotes looking bad in those apps.

Glk via network:

References

Z-machine

There are countless Z-machine interpreters, e.g.

References

Tools and Projects

@Zarf’s

Others

Legacy

I7 in translation

Hosting

Miscellany

IFwiki’s rec.arts.int-fiction threads on Inform 7

Ryan Veeder’s

Jeff Nyman:

@emshort:

@mathbrush’s 77 Verbs serves as a trainer in default available commands.

An Inform 7 quine by @Juhana

"Updating Code written for 6G60

John Timmons’ Inform Snippets and Inform Manual (PDF) (c. 5U92-6F95)

inform7tips: fresh I7 tidbits Monday-Friday.

Archived I7 website sitemap: many links above are to archive.org copies of pages no longer on the Inform 7 website.

Language Comparisons

IF Resource Links has much more of interest to IF authors in general, not specific to I7.

History

Toward I6: New Tricks for an old Z-machine

  1. Digging the Trenches
  2. Hacking Deeper, or Follies of Graham Nelson’s Youth
  3. A Renaissance Is Nigh

Toward I7

Toward I7 v10

How to Not Lose This Post

This topic is pinned to this category, but by default Discourse unpins a thread when you reach the bottom (that can be deactivated in Interface under Preferences in your Profile). Or you can bookmark it: the bookmark icon is at the bottom of the post (you may have to select a “…” icon to see it). To see your bookmarks, select your profile icon in the upper right, then select the bookmark icon there. If you do lose the post, search the forums for “documentation and resources” or visit while logged out.

Bookmark interface

428x64

18 Likes

Rockin; thank you :slight_smile:

Could this be made sticky?

Done

Would be nice to have an I6 sticky as well, preferably A B O V E the I7 sticky so that there is no doubt as to which language is the original and which the knockoff.

1 Like

I would especially push for the link below (which is actually mostly in Inform 7). It’s Appendix A – i.e. the Standard Rules commented and explained literate programming style. To my mind, it’s a vital part of the I7 documentation.

For what it’s worth, I haven’t updated the syntax document for the last build, and don’t expect to do so going forward, because the indexing has improved enough that it should now provide a comprehensive reference for that kind of thing (and it’s automatically cross-linked with the documentation). But if people find the old document useful to browse anyway, that’s fine – just be warned it’s largely been supplanted.

Excellent!

Also, this link to Appendix B, the underlying I6 template layer–just as vital in my opinion as the documentation of the Standard Rules.

inform7.com/sources/src/i6templa … index.html

–Erik

Thanks for the comments folks, I’ve updated the OP.

I third this suggestion. I also recommend that, if the author will be updating the first post, the title be updated, too, so we also know when this was last updated.

Good suggestion, done.

Yay, glad I could contribute in some small way!

I know that one thing I’m only just discovering is how to use the skein and transcripts from it. Is there any website that guides us through that?

I also had no idea how to use the IDE’s features for looking through all standard actions. I’d think if someone could make a youtube video or selection of screenshots to guide a person through, that’d be hugely helpful. I suspect once people know this sort of thing is there, that’s a lot less work.

Finally, one of the big roadblocks I’ve had is knowing which extensions to use. So many times, I’ve been wondering if I should bother programming X and not knowing whether there was an extension Y that would take care of it. I think any one person’s documentation generally catches some good ones, but is there something more general? I know I’d find it useful to be able to see programming examples or evaluations. Beyond the extension authors’ own, which I don’t want to belittle. But it’s more the “wow, other people can use this”

Is anyone aware of these? Does anyone want to create such a page? Are these questions out of the scope of the topic? I hope I haven’t hijacked the thread, but really, I’m glad someone took the time to tie this up, and I thought I’d ask a few more questions while I was at it.

One final thing–let us know whether it might be better to PM/email you with small changes, or if we should just post here.

Posting in the thread works for me. At some point it’ll make more sense to put this somewhere that’s generally editable, like ifwiki, and I’ll probably just post a redirect link in the OP.

Your questions about extensions definitely are relevant, and in fact Aaron Reed proposed something very similar, see this topic https://intfiction.org/t/extension-census-2010/854/7. I don’t know if he’s gone further than that.

This is a very low-tech way to address this, but I usually go to the Extensions page, click “All Extensions by Category” (or any of the other aggregate links), and do a quick in-page search for keywords related to the problem I want to solve, like “liquid” or “inventory” or whatever.

Regarding better extensions visibility: I think everyone agrees it would be great to have this integrated into the IFDB, or give more sharing and community features to the official site, but it’s as usual a question of volunteer-hours available. We’ve tried to kick-start this a couple times but it involves major work and coordination of effort between several people, and it just hasn’t come together yet.

In the meantime, it would be awesome if someone started a third party site promoting extensions somehow-- I’m afraid it’s not going to be able to be me at the moment, although I’d certainly be open to contributing if a group effort arises.

This has worked well for me. I think it is good and will work for others, too. However, it’s those moments where someone points something out and I say “of course the extension was there, and of course it did this” that work really well.

Sounds like a good idea for a spinoff topic. I would like to be part of this effort, because I think my biggest growths as a coder have occurred when I realized that, yes, you could do this-or-that easily.

Though obviously this’d require a lot of white paper, I have some ideas. However, I also have no idea how to go about building a website, or how to possibly integrate a website into something bigger. Simply giving statistics on how many games use which extensions, and maybe a blurb on how they use it, could be effective. Granted, the quality of the games may not reflect the quality of the extensions, but there’s a lot of “how’d they do this” that gets dispelled pretty in a game, regardless of quality, that you don’t see in an example.

I also have no clue how much/little extension authors tolerate/appreciate having an extra example made that uses their extensions. But in my experience, I generally have to use an extension in a dumb game before I’m brave enough to use it in something real.

Two more I7 reference documents (slightly oldish):
Emily Short’s 2007 draft of an I7 syntax reference at http://www.inform-fiction.org/I7Downloads/Documents/I7_syntax.txt.
And a document giving the grammar for I7 in Backus-Naur notation at http://www.inform-fiction.org/I7Downloads/Documents/I7-Grammar.pdf. (Not sure about its up-to-datedness.)

I’d love to read some of Emily Short’s code after seeing in another post that it’s “spectacularly clean.” Organization is an area in which I’m really interested in developing a good practice.

Where’s the source code at this link? For example, here’s the entry for Bronze:

ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=9p8kh3im2j9h2881

I’m sure it’s just me, but I can’t find a link on this page for the source code.

Thanks!

All of Emily’s released source is linked from here. (It would be sensible if the IFDB pages also had links to it, though.)

Someone has to manually add the link. For example in this entry,

ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=44vx0pl3rrfi533s

the link is in the upper right.

I think anyone can add the link on IFDB so this would be a good project for someone with a little time on their hands.