Entries from May 2011 ↓

Inform 7 Suggestions in Want of Volunteers

In our most recent pass through the UserVoice forum for Inform suggestions, we have marked a number of ideas with the tag *VW*. (Search for this by typing vw, without asterisks, into the search box.)

This tag indicates that the idea is one we are theoretically open to, but that the core team does not have the time or resources to implement. Therefore, volunteers are welcome. These ideas include creating IDEs for currently unsupported platforms, for instance, or making subsidiary website support for extensions, or creating a cut-down alternate to the Standard Rules with fewer items in it.

These are all non-trivial tasks. Some may require support from the core team, and we will do our best to cooperate with any reasonable, well-founded proposals, but other people would need take the lead.

There are two specific areas where volunteer assistance would be especially welcome:

Overhaul of tools and website support for extensions

A large number of suggestions concern better organization, management, and feedback on extensions, including the ability for extension users to mark up their favorites, a context for discussing and requesting new extensions, the ability to tag extensions with keywords and search the extensions collection, improved automatic extension testing with each new build, markup to indicate compability between extensions, and so on.

On a forum for requesting new extensions: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/751958-website-extensions-request-page-for-extensions-?ref=title

On creating feedback for extension authors: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/751970-website-extensions-feedback-for-extension-author?ref=title

Archiving extensions in a repository: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/847455-extensions-have-an-extensions-repository-vw-?ref=title and http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/751972-website-extensions-archive-old-version-of-extens?ref=title

Providing a single download of all extensions: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/846303-website-extensions-allow-all-extensions-to-be-do?ref=title

Updating extensions through the IDE: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/859339-define-a-means-for-ides-to-query-inform7-com-to-de?ref=title and http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/926219-extensions-updater-vw-?ref=title

Having the IDE link to a browser window with more extensions: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/1606805-ide-add-a-find-more-extensions-option-to-the-f?ref=title

Organizing extensions on the website for better searchability and review: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/1046371-extensions-let-users-tag-extensions-and-allow-fo?ref=title, http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/1126939-make-built-in-extensions-available-online-just-lik?ref=title

Mark extensions based on their compatibility with different Inform versions: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/751978-extensions-website-show-which-extensions-aren-t-?ref=title

This is a rich field and we would be very happy to see some of these suggestions taken up, but are not in a position to work on this ourselves. We would need a small task force to identify the features that are most desirable, and then build an appropriate structure for the website, as well as any needed support tools for the extension librarians. If there are places where IDE support is necessary, volunteers would also need to work with the IDE maintainers.

Anyone interested on working with this will need to coordinate with the extensions librarian Mark Musante at i7extensions@smallwhitehouse.org.

Specification for improvements to version control compatibility

A common complaint is that Inform is too hard to use with version control software, but we are not sure what reforms are the most important to make this possible. As per

http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/789525-ide-code-only-searching-in-the-documentation?ref=title

it would be very helpful if a small task force could assemble a list of specific requests that would make Inform compatible with Subversion, Mercurial, and Git, across all of Inform’s platforms. We are eager to try to support this, but do not know exactly what’s needed.

The following suggestions may also be relevant to this project:

On time-stamping files: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/1220683-support-external-editor?ref=title

On archiving extensions: http://inform7.uservoice.com/forums/57320-general/suggestions/751944-version-control-extensions-automatic-archiving-o?ref=title

We would like this to be done in a way which doesn’t fundamentally change the user experience for people who don’t use version control, and in general which causes as little disruption as possible. In particular, Inform’s fundamental method of storing its main source text as a single file will need to remain. There are arguments for and against this, but it’s a decision that has been taken.