Inform 7 Home Page / Documentation


Part I. Writing with Inform

Chapter 1: Welcome to Inform    Chapter 15: Numbers and Equations   
Chapter 2: The Source Text    Chapter 16: Tables   
Chapter 3: Things    Chapter 17: Understanding   
Chapter 4: Kinds    Chapter 18: Activities   
Chapter 5: Text    Chapter 19: Rulebooks   
Chapter 6: Descriptions    Chapter 20: Advanced Text   
Chapter 7: Basic Actions    Chapter 21: Lists   
Chapter 8: Change    Chapter 22: Advanced Phrases   
Chapter 9: Time    Chapter 23: Figures, Sounds and Files   
Chapter 10: Scenes    Chapter 24: Testing and Debugging   
Chapter 11: Phrases    Chapter 25: Releasing   
Chapter 12: Advanced Actions    Chapter 26: Publishing   
Chapter 13: Relations    Chapter 27: Extensions   
Chapter 14: Adaptive Text and Responses   

arrow-right.png Start reading here: §1.1. Preface
arrow-down.png Part II. The Inform Recipe Book
arrow-down-right.png Indexes of the examples and definitions

Chapter 1: Welcome to Inform

§1.1. Preface; §1.2. Acknowledgements; §1.3. The facing pages; §1.4. The Go! button; §1.5. The Replay button; §1.6. The Index and Results panels; §1.7. The Skein; §1.8. A short Skein tutorial; §1.9. Summary of the Skein and Transcript

arrow-up-left.png Contents of Writing with Inform
arrow-right.png Chapter 2: The Source Text
arrow-down-right.png Indexes of the examples

§1.1. Preface

Welcome to Inform, a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language.

Interactive fiction is a literary form which involves programming a computer so that it presents a reader with a text which can be explored. Inform aims to make the burden of learning to program such texts as light as possible. It is a tool for writers intrigued by computing, and computer programmers intrigued by writing. Perhaps these are not so very different pursuits, in their rewards and pleasures.

The sheer joy of making things... the fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts and watching them work in subtle cycles... the delight of working in such a tractable medium. The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. (Frederick P. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month", 1972)

Writing with Inform is one of two interlinked books included with Inform: a concise but complete guide to the system. The other book is The Inform Recipe Book, a comprehensive collection of examples, showing its practical use. If you are reading this within the Inform application, you will see that the Writing with Inform pages are on "white paper", while the Recipe Book is on "yellow paper".

These notes are arranged so that the reader can, in principle, write whole works of fiction as early as the end of Chapter 3. Each subsequent chapter then extends the range of techniques available to make livelier and more intriguing situations.

This new release of Inform ("Inform 7", the seventh major version since 1993) is a radical departure from most previous approaches to interactive fiction. In particular, it is very different from Inform 6, which newcomers will not need to know anything about. Inform 6 sits inside Inform 7, and is part of the inner workings, but is not visible from the outside. For information about Inform 6, see www.inform-fiction.org.

Programming is best regarded as the process of creating works of literature, which are meant to be read... so we ought to address them to people, not to machines. (Donald Knuth, "Literate Programming", 1981)

* See Acknowledgements for a chance to try out the cross-referencing links in Writing with Inform - click on the red asterisk or the name of the destination to go there


arrow-up.png Start of Chapter 1: Welcome to Inform
arrow-right.png Onward to §1.2. Acknowledgements

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*ExampleAbout the examples
An explanation of the examples in this documentation, and the asterisks attached to them. Click the heading of the example, or the example number, to reveal the text.