So there’s lots of things that could be said in this thread, but here’s an example. If you load up an introductory game, one of the comments says this:
- Include the main header for the standard TADS 3 adventure library.
- Note that this does NOT include the entire source code for the
- library; this merely includes some definitions for our use here. The
- main library must be “linked” into the finished program by including
- the file “adv3.tl” in the list of modules specified when compiling.
- In TADS Workbench, simply include adv3.tl in the “Source Files”
- section of the project.
Now, as a new person, you might be wondering: so wait, do I have to do this “main library linking thing.” I have to include adv3.tl in the Source Files section? Seriously? Doesn’t TADS do that for me? The introductory source file is a huge turn off.
I’m also thinking that the way to create a new project could perhaps be streamlined. Inform makes this simple: name of story, location, and author. Why can’t TADS do that? The other stuff could be set later when needed. Or, better, just adhere to convention over configuration, provide sensible defaults that “just work,” and then allow more experienced people to tweak when they have more knowledge about even wanting to do that in the first place.
I already mentioned the Getting Started manual in another thread, but this thing really needs an editor and some proofreading if people are going to get much out of this. Example:
“Now open goldskull.t in your text editor of choice (either through Workbench or through the text editor – if you use the second method while compiling through Workbench you might find it a great relief to uncheck the option ‘Ask before reloading a modified source file’ on the Messages tab of the Debugger Options dialogue box that comes up through selecting View/Options from the Workbench menu).”
Put yourself in the mindset of someone who may be trying out Inform and TADS. Reading the above you immediately get a long sentence with nary a breath taken. Also, it seems inaccurate. That menu and that option does not seem to exist. Granted, this only matters if you are using an external editor and compiling from the Workbench. But that one paragraph has a bit of cognitive friction for someone looking for an easy and gentle introduction to their first experience with TADS.
I’ve heard comments about the Inform 7 documentation in that area but, from what I’m seeing, Inform 7 has no issues when compared with the documentation for TADS. Again, though, I’m looking at this from the standpoint of a variety of people with varying levels of experience.
Finally, while I like the TADS Workbench because it’s a development environment, that very same reason may turn off others. Something like the equivalent of Eclipse perspectives may help here. At the very least you have “Minimal Programmer” and “Maximum Programmer” perspectives that provide an appropriate level of detail. Those “minimal programmers” can always opt to turn on features as they learn they need them. If they don’t need them, they may appreciate not having all of it staring them in the face.
Bottom-line: I can totally see why many new people – or even just those who don’t want a “full programming experience” – will prefer Inform 7, regardless of the merits of one language over the other.