One of the reasons I’ve been avoiding Inform 7 for years is that I tend to like my programming to feel like programming–or at least look like I’m using a programming language! I’ve dabbled with several programming languages over the years, and as a result, I was initially drawn to TADS. However, I’ve been experimenting with Inform 7 lately anyway. For a variety of reasons (not the least of which are the incredible IDE and testing commands), I think I’m going to give Inform 7 a serious try.
I still think more like a conventional programmer, though. After searching forum posts for tutorials, I came across a link to “Inform 7 for Programmers” – http://www.plover.net/~pscion/inform7.html – a 2009 text by Ron Newcomb. I thought it was absolutely wonderful! I feel it will make learning Inform 7 much, much easier and faster for me. If, that is, it isn’t completely outdated.
Does anyone know how much has changed since Inform 7 5U92? If anyone is familiar with the site (or if Ron Newcomb is out there reading this) would you be able to tell me of any differences that I should watch out for? I’m sure most of the site still applies, but I wanted to save myself some time and trouble by asking ahead…
That version of Inform 7 is pretty dated. However, you can learn with older versions which are still available for download on the Inform website.
I have found Aaron Reed’s text Creating Interactive Fiction With Inform 7 to be invaluable. His step by step method, the level of detail and explanations have been very helpful for me. I am currently through Chapter 7. I wouldn’t be able to learn this specialized “English based” programming language without this text. Though the text is technically out of date and is also based on an earlier version of I7, but I find that it is useful to learn with the current version of I7. When I find things that do not work, I work through them and find out why and then move forward. The book’s website has source code and the published game used in the book for learning, that you can also use for reference. I have both the hard copy version of the text and the Kindle version. I open the Kindle version of the text alongside the I7 IDE and work back and forth. I like to have the hard copy for notes and as a reference book.
I actually prefer TADS 3. If was easier for me to grasp with my modest programming background. But, the distribution flexibility of I7 is beneficial for my use. Once I learn both methods of authoring, I will be able to pick and choose the best for my needs.
I suggest giving the tutorial a try. Any amount you learn will move you closer to learning the I7 system.
While the version of Inform that I7 for Programmers is based on is behind several iterations, I would think a lot of the concepts about wrapping your programmer brain around Inform syntax are probably still valid.
There have been 8 releases since 5U92, but some of them have been purely maintenance releases.
By far the most disruptive was 6L02 (2014), described in the changelog as “an across-the-board reform of the language”. In particular, it greatly altered the way that text is handled. It might be worth looking at the intro to that release’s changelog, to get a hint about which parts of I7FP are most out-of-date.
Release 6E59 (2010) was a big one too, but I think it mainly introduced new features rather than changing existing ones.
It seems the latest release is 6M62, which was from back in 2015 according to Wikipedia. But of course you all already knew that! I was interested in knowing how often it’s been updated lately since I might publicly release the source code for any games I write. I would want to keep them updated, and I was curious about how often I’d need to make changes keep them current.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Gotta actually complete a game first…
I beta-tested the community-driven ChoiceScript IDE, and I noted how much it seemed to be influenced by Inform’s IDE (pushbutton instant compile, automated testing, side-by-side code and game) which is really appreciated.
The pattern has been major releases roughly every four years. If that continued, then the next big one would be… well, about now actually. But there’s no reason (as far as I know) to think the pattern is etched in stone.