Latest news on the next I7 update

A couple of people asked me today if I was planning to update the Inform Handbook. If I do it, I’ll probably want to wait until the next release of I7. So the question naturally bubbles to the surface: Is such a release imminent? Semi-imminent? Adrift in the Sargasso Sea?

I’m aware, of course, that the development team tends to be rather reticent about divulging details. But it has been 15 months now, so I think maybe asking the question is not completely out of line…

Emily answered below:

So to answer this in vague and general terms that I hope will still be somewhat helpful:

No, we don’t have a release date, for the same reasons as usual: not wanting to mislead people, not being sure what our own schedules will allow.

Graham has been working on Inform recently, but before that there was a hiatus of some months because of an increased workload at work and some other things of a like nature. I have also been extremely busy (as it happens, I think what I’ve been doing may eventually interest some IF fans, but it has involved building up a product and company, then selling the company and transitioning jobs, so I haven’t had much leftover time to call my own).

That said, the new build, when it comes, will be a more significant departure than most people have seen in a while, because it finally puts through a number of syntax deprecations we’ve been trailing; completely reforms the library message system; and does a few other major changes that we felt would be best to do all at once. The size and complexity of the update is another reason why it is taking such a long time.

To the extent possible, we’re trying to have our busy-ness at least not drag down progress on decoupled but related projects; Vorple is going forward, and I have given a volunteer the go-ahead to work on the things that still need work on Threaded Conversation, and so on.

It is very unlikely that there will be a “maintenance” release before the next big release. The next big release does require a bunch of additional cleanup and documentation and so on; it is taking a long time because Graham and I both have very little bandwidth available at the moment.

(And no: Inform is not developed in an agile fashion, and likely never will be. I encourage those for whom that is a priority to turn their attention to one of the many cool projects that are run in that fashion. It sounds as though Alex is nominating his, for instance.)

Well, besides the above list, in case someone wants more official venues to follow progress of and provide feedback regarding Inform 7:

  • I7’s Mantis bug tracker, for reporting bugs and following the status of all known bugs (releases have tended to close all open bug reports, so look for the number of not-closed-or-resolved bugs to approach 0 as an indicator of imminent release)
  • The I7 Uservoice, to suggest and vote on new features, and read dev comments and interest/likelihood of implementing them

There was a bit of a pause due to real life busy-ness (mine and Graham’s both), but it is under active development and in fact I am sorting through uservoice a bit right now.

Update from Graham:

News from the Oxford Tools Meetup: