The Inform 7 Handbook
Hooray! The Inform 7 Handbook is now at version 2.0. This newly expanded edition of Handbook has been updated from start to finish for compatibility with Inform 7 version 6L38. It has chapters on creating rooms and scenery, on handling objects, on adding actions, on creating characters, on puzzle design, and so forth. There's a lot of other useful stuff too. The Handbook is packed with code examples, and has a glossary with cross-links to the rest of the text. It's also extensively cross-referenced to Writing with Inform.
I hope you'll send me reports on any errors you spot, as well as suggestions for improvements.
Because others may wish to edit and adapt the Handbook for their own usage, I'm also uploading the file in OpenOffice format. Note: This file may be downloaded by Internet Explorer with the .zip filename extension, even though it's an .odt file. To open it in OpenOffice, do not unzip it! Simply change the filename to InformHandbook.odt. Since OpenOffice is freeware, anybody who wants to use the Handbook in this format should be able to do so.
For the convenience of folks who want to read the Handbook on small screens, the PDF is available in two forms -- 6x9 and 8-1/2x11.
Why write an entirely new handbook for Inform, since it already comes with two hefty built-in manuals? Good question.
In teaching small classes of middle-school-age kids how to write their first games using Inform 7, I learned two things: First, kids take to I7 programming very naturally. It's fun for them! But second, they often find the built-in Documentation in the I7 application difficult to deal with. I've heard similar comments from adults who sent emails to thank me for the Handbook.
I once had a new student gamely start with Chapter 1 of the Documentation and almost give up IF entirely on hitting pages 1.7 and 1.8, which deal with the Skein. I had forgotten to tell the class, "Don't read those pages. They're confusing, and you don't need to know about the Skein yet." I could add more anecdotes, but I trust the point is clear: Beginners, and especially younger beginners, might benefit from a different type of resource -- a handbook that's organized so as to explain, step by step, how they can get started doing the things they want to do.
In an all-volunteer community, if you see a need, it's pretty much up to you to step up to the plate and take a swing at it. I've written book-length tutorials more than once, and while I'm certainly not an Inform 7 expert, I've written and released two I7 games. So I figured I should write a textbook. I hope you find it useful.