girl with sword

The Inform 7 Handbook

The Inform 7 Handbook is now at version 1.96 beta, and creeping toward 2.0. This newly expanded edition of Handbook has chapters on creating rooms and scenery, on handling objects, on adding actions, and on creating characters. An entirely new chapter discusses puzzle design in some detail, and seven short example games have been added. 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.

You're encouraged to send me reports on errors, as well as suggestions for improvements. Within a few weeks after the next release of Inform, the Handbook will be finalized.

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. I was going to make it available as an RTF, but in my experiments, OpenOffice does a poor job of converting to RTF, which is a Microsoft-defined file format. (Why do I get the impression that Microsoft and OpenOffice don't like one another?) Since OpenOffice is freeware, anybody who wants to use the Handbook in this format should be able make use of it.

I7 Handbook PDF

ODT word processor file

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.

Last year I 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, last year I released my first I7 game. So I figured I'd better just sit down and write a textbook. I hope you find it useful.