Status of Inform7

Hello folks! After having played IF games off and on since the mid-90s, I recently took my 10-yr-old son to Vintage Computer Festival Midwest, where I saw him playing an original Zork on a PDP-11 running 2BSD connected to an amber terminal, and he was loving it. Then after we got home, I watched Get Lamp, and what can I say, it’s time to finally learn how to write a game. I want to write one just for my kids to enjoy, certainly nothing worthy of a contest or anything. I have a strong background in programming, FWIW.

It is great to see this community still alive and well, and especially great to see Inform still being maintained and evolving in interesting ways with Inform7!

My question is: to what extent are Inform6 and Inform7 still actively maintained, and to what extent are they open source?

I see that Inform6 is included in Debian, albeit in non-free because while source code is available, its license isn’t fully compliant with the Free Software Guidelines. I see also that Inform7’s latest release cannot be installed (with the GUI, at any rate) on any modern Linux system, and that it’s (apparently?) closed-source. I would certainly generally like to try the latest of things, but am concerned that Inform7 may not be something that I can continue to edit and work with over the long term, particularly since there isn’t source code for it.

I have a very strong preference to work with Open Source tools - and frequently contribute to their development as well. I have zero desire to do anything with graphics, so if there are other tools I should consider, I’d be happy to know about them… or if there is an update or ways I could help with the open-sourcing of Inform, that too would be great.

Thanks in advance, and thanks so all that have contributed to Inform in various ways over the years. I appreciate your work and the games it’s made possible!

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This is awesome. :slight_smile: I believe that text adventures are like silent movies in a way: they’re much more accessible to open-minded kids than you might expect.

After a hiatus of several years, Inform 7 is due for a major new release this fall, which among other much-needed changes should include releasing the code under a free (MIT-like) Artistic License.

You may also be interested in Linus Akesson’s Dialog, a new Prolog-like language, and one of the most exciting developments for parser IF in the last few years. You’ll find extensive discussion of Dialog on this site.

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Actually, that’s not true, but it’s not exactly straightforward. I have GNOME Inform 7 build 6M62 working on Kubuntu 19.04, but I had to download the libgoocanvas3 package for an earlier version of Ubuntu in order to install it.

Also, Inform 6 is fully open source and still being actively maintained. The syntax may be more comfortable for you with your strong programming background, and you can produce a version 5 story file that will still run with a DOS Beyond Zork interpreter or whatever.

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Inform 6’s documentation is also incredible, the Inform Beginners Guide is very accessible maybe even to a kid.

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It really helped me click with programming, I try to encourage anyone getting into programming to read it as it’s just so clear.

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Wow! That is a super-fantastic idea. I haven’t used Prolog itself since my college days, but other languages I’ve used (most particularly, Haskell) have a few broad similarities to Prolog. I can totally see it being quite useful here.

Also, it’s great that Inform will be under the Artistic license. I feel that niche communities have some of the most to gain from Free Software and opening things up to collaborators, so I hope that step pans out. I actually went looking for the Github repos mentioned in the presentation, but they didn’t seem to be out there (or maybe aren’t public yet?)

I hope this isn’t a FAQ, but are there differences between the standard libraries of Inform6 and Inform7 that will be relevant? Will I find myself needing to write quite a bit more boilerplate code in one vs. the other?

I guess I should be more precise: my platform is Debian Buster, and yes I probably could have pulled packages from earlier versions to run it. But those packages wouldn’t have security support, so I pretty much refuse to put them on my system.

So I went to try to build it from source on Buster, and found that this wasn’t possible either. I didn’t look into it deeply, but it looks like it wants a really old version of libwebkitgtk. Unfortunately, that version was removed from Debian due to being abandoned upstream for years, and having over 100 unfixed CVEs (that webkit2gtk addressed). So basically it needs to be forward-ported to the current library tooling that’s out there. I may give this a try myself once the whole thing is open-sourced, since I would hate for the Linux port to bitrot.

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Well, that is a highly compelling argument right there. My 10-yr-old has shown a bit of an interest in programming. Maybe this would be a way to get him hooked.