Questions on Limits and Settings panel doc material

I keep poking at the manual. (Sorry?) I’m just trying to get bits of it in my head. The page $2.14 in the documentation brings up a lot of stuff. Usually when something is placed early on, it indicates it’s something you need to know fairly soon. But I’m struggling to see why I would need to know this stuff. Example: the page says

I guess I’m wondering why even mention this? Do many people coming to Inform right now even know what this is or care? I feel like I’m coming way late to a conversation that’s already happened. (Probably true, I guess, right?! :slight_smile: I did actually look up all this z-machine stuff, so I get it now. But I don’t know if I needed to.) To the point of the above quoted material, if “z6 support” is limited and “Glulx” is much better, why even mention this “in principle” thing that you can maybe do (if the support is there) but probably never should?

This page also says:

I don’t get an Errors panel even when I purposely create errors in my source. There is a Reports panel that has a Console button. I take it that is what’s meant here by the console output of Inform 6. But is there an actual Errors panel somewhere?

This page also says:

So if this is the case, why not just use Glulx to begin with? In fact, when I looked in the Settings panel, it looks like that’s what Inform does anyway. But then further on the page mentions “a story file playable on a tiny handheld computer unable to manage Glulx”. What’s an example of one of those devices? “Handheld computer” to me is a smartphone or tablet, I guess. Maybe if there was more specifics put on this page it would help since I presume people know what devices can and can’t play these different games. Or is that incorrect?

At least in my opinion, the first couple chapters of the documentation refer to the first things that you see when you open up Inform, but you don’t need to know them first. So it starts off with a bunch of stuff about the skein and what’s on the facing pages and things like that, but if you want to start programming you don’t need to start with most of this tusff.

Just not to falsely suggest that the z-machine can’t do pictures, I guess. It’s in parentheses because it is a digression.

This is leftover from the previous version – the Reports panel used to be called Errors. It’s been reported so it should be fixed when the bugfix version comes out.

This is also leftover from the previous version; Inform used to compile to the z-machine by default, but the new version produces larger files which are harder to fit into z-machine.

In fact I believe phones and tablets often can’t run Glulx, or at least Glulx interpreters aren’t as widely available for them. And Vorple (which lets you integrate more different kinds of multimedia into online play) currently can be integrated with z-machine but not Glulx. In general I get the impression that it’s easier to implement the z-machine than Glulx, so the z-machine is more portable.

Fair. I guess I have a bad reaction to too many digressions particularly if they don’t matter. I’ve come off of a long academic career where I worked with too many people who used way too many parenthetical digressions. I guess I’m still sensitive. :slight_smile: This does make me realize that the manual in some cases is clearly throwing in asides for people who have a lot of context, which may leave those of us who don’t wondering why something matters.

Great context! Thanks. So I guess maybe this stuff does matter then if your goal is to be playable on Glulx on the widest amount of machines. I’m presuming (hopefully correctly) that on any roughly modern desktop/laptop, Glulx works without issue? Vorple I wasn’t even aware of so I need to check that out. But you’ve changed my mind. It sounds like you do have to care about z-machine / Glulx, at least currently.

Check Vorple out here! Juhana Leinonen, its programmer, is around the forum a lot. (I believe he has plans to expand it to Glulx compatibility, but it’ll take work.) You don’t really have to worry that much about Glulx/z-machine, and the state on mobiles may not be as dire as I’ve made it out – you can make Glulx games into iOS apps, for instance. If you’re just diving in it’s probably best to start programming and worry about the file format at the end, unless you have something very specific in mind for what you want do do with the end project.

There should be Glulx interpreters for most any modern desktop/laptop, and Glulx games can also be played on the web through the web interpreter Quixe – if that doesn’t make sense don’t worry much about it.

There are other edge cases as well – I think someone implemented a z-machine on a programmable calculator or something crazy like that, and someone implemented it on a smart pen, though I don’t know if it was .z8.

By the way, I appreciate you looking over the docs with a fresh eye. Even though there’s a tendency (which I share) to get defensive when responding.

The fact is that Graham went over the manual for the new release (with its new defaults). But it’s not a complete rewrite. Some passages have been updated but not rearranged. And then some mistakes have slipped through (like the reference to the “error pane”.)

It’s possible that a bunch of this stuff will remain the way it is, even if it doesn’t seem maximally logical, because there is no such thing as a maximally logical manual. And in some cases Graham is erring on the side of detail rather than oversimplification, even if the information is not what the imaginary user needs to know right now. That’s just his style.