how accessable is inform 7 for screen readers please?

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dechenradio

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Apr 17, 2010, 7:33:27 AM4/17/10
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Hi again all, I would like to write my own game. Long ago,I was in
this group. I have no sight and can use a braille display. How
accessable would inform 7 be for folks who use screen readers please?
also, I presume it runs under Vista. I also understand you can write
the actual texts for games using any word processor, meaning, I could
write the basics using my portable machine, braille only, and put them
on my main machine for compiling? How best can I learn how the
language works? I tried listening to the movie, but the author spoke
far! too fast for cochlear implants to understand and it was obviously
very visual. There are manuals of course, but has anyone written a
"step by step" text I could start with please? Thanking you all in
advance, Michael Gerwat.

James Jolley

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Apr 17, 2010, 9:15:04 AM4/17/10
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Hi,

I can confirm that with speech at least, Inform7 is accessible under
windows. I use mac at this time, but the text editing will be fine.

Manuals are available in the usual www.inform7.com website. There is a
dedicated text version in .txt format.

Best

-James-

Jim Aikin

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Apr 17, 2010, 11:00:04 AM4/17/10
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I'm not knowledgeable about screen readers, but I can offer a couple of
comments.

You mentioned using a word processor to write the game. This is
possible, if you know what you're doing. But Inform 7 has its own text
editor for writing the game. If your screen reader can work with it,
you'll find that easier to use. If you do use a word processor, you can
copy and paste the text that you write from the word processor directly
into the Inform 7 Source page -- saving a file from a word processor
will add all sorts of extra code to the file, so you can't save it as a
file called story.ni and then load it into the Inform application,
unless you use a "save as plain text" command. You probably won't be
able to copy and paste from your portable to your main computer, so
check whether your word processor has a "save as plain text" command.
Also, you'll need to be careful how the Tab characters are handled. You
must use actual Tab characters, and not rows of spaces at the beginning
of the line. I don't know how a screen reader or Braille writer program
will deal with Tabs -- maybe James or Parham can address that question.

Inform can also be used in a mode that doesn't require Tabs at all. The
code is organized using words like begin and end. You may find this mode
easier to manage.

If you're looking for a step-by-step introduction to writing in Inform
7, you may want to look at my Inform 7 Handbook. It's available for
download from www.musicwords.net/if/i7hb.htm. (Both a PDF and an Open
Office .odt file are available.) The Handbook may be a bit easier for
you to digest than working through Inform's built-in Documentation,
although the latter is extremely useful.

Finally, I would note that it's very normal when writing any sort of
computer program for your code to contain mistakes that have to be
corrected. If you attempt to write for an hour on your Braille machine
and then transfer the file to Inform for compiling, you will almost
certainly encounter a discouraging number of mistakes. Most programmers
write for only a few minutes, then recompile and retest what they've
added to the game. If you want to work this way, I would strongly
suggest that you learn Inform 7 first using the Inform development
program itself, and then switch to the Braille-only machine once you're
thoroughly familiar with how Inform code works.

--Jim Aikin

James Jolley

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Apr 17, 2010, 11:11:14 AM4/17/10
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On 2010-04-17 16:00:04 +0100, Jim Aikin <midig...@gmail.com> said:

> I'm not knowledgeable about screen readers, but I can offer a couple of
> comments.
>
> You mentioned using a word processor to write the game. This is
> possible, if you know what you're doing. But Inform 7 has its own text
> editor for writing the game. If your screen reader can work with it,
> you'll find that easier to use. If you do use a word processor, you can
> copy and paste the text that you write from the word processor directly
> into the Inform 7 Source page -- saving a file from a word processor
> will add all sorts of extra code to the file, so you can't save it as a
> file called story.ni and then load it into the Inform application,
> unless you use a "save as plain text" command. You probably won't be
> able to copy and paste from your portable to your main computer, so
> check whether your word processor has a "save as plain text" command.
> Also, you'll need to be careful how the Tab characters are handled. You
> must use actual Tab characters, and not rows of spaces at the beginning
> of the line. I don't know how a screen reader or Braille writer program
> will deal with Tabs -- maybe James or Parham can address that question.

I can say for the mac screen reader side, the tab key is indicated when
you pass over the character with the arrow keys. Window-eyes or JAWS
for Windows should be the same, but it's been a few years since I used
the more modern Windows Screen Readers.


>
> Inform can also be used in a mode that doesn't require Tabs at all. The
> code is organized using words like begin and end. You may find this
> mode easier to manage.

I'd say this is the best advice ever. I often use this mode myself
because it makes more readable sense to me personally.


>
> If you're looking for a step-by-step introduction to writing in Inform
> 7, you may want to look at my Inform 7 Handbook. It's available for
> download from www.musicwords.net/if/i7hb.htm. (Both a PDF and an Open
> Office .odt file are available.) The Handbook may be a bit easier for
> you to digest than working through Inform's built-in Documentation,
> although the latter is extremely useful.

Agreed.


>
> Finally, I would note that it's very normal when writing any sort of
> computer program for your code to contain mistakes that have to be
> corrected. If you attempt to write for an hour on your Braille machine
> and then transfer the file to Inform for compiling, you will almost
> certainly encounter a discouraging number of mistakes. Most programmers
> write for only a few minutes, then recompile and retest what they've
> added to the game. If you want to work this way, I would strongly
> suggest that you learn Inform 7 first using the Inform development
> program itself, and then switch to the Braille-only machine once you're
> thoroughly familiar with how Inform code works.

I agree here. I always myself use the mac IDE for writing the code.

The nice advantage to Inform 7 specifically is that it speaks very
well. Bracketed substitutions instigate a slight pausing of speech,
think of it like emphasis. This made the language very easy to learn
without having to read character by character.

Finally, this isn't any sort of dig at all, but the changes to the
interface in the upcoming version concerns me greatly. Are we, as
visually impaired users going to be locked out of some functionality?
The schene isn't as yet anyway, accessible via the mac for instance.

This is partly why I am quite irritated at the lack of input from folk,
because surely people like myself should be in with the development of
the IDE side to verify it's suitability?

Best

-James-

dechenradio

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Apr 18, 2010, 5:19:36 AM4/18/10
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> advance, Michael Gerwat.Hi again, thanks to all who sent me the information. Now, It's a matter of trying the package and see how we go. I'll get that inform handbook that was suggested as well. Clearly, life will be easier if the inform editor does work with Jaws. Only one way to find out. Thanks again to you all. Michael Gerwat.

Jim Aikin

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Apr 18, 2010, 11:09:22 AM4/18/10
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Please let us know how the experiment works. If there are problems using
Inform with Jaws, for example, it would be good to know what they are.

--Jim Aikin

James Jolley

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Apr 18, 2010, 11:16:12 AM4/18/10
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On 2010-04-18 16:09:22 +0100, Jim Aikin <midig...@gmail.com> said:

> Please let us know how the experiment works. If there are problems
> using Inform with Jaws, for example, it would be good to know what they
> are.
>
> --Jim Aikin

> I have corresponded privately with the OP and things seem to be moving
> along quite nicely. I'm sure he'll need a little more assistance, and I
> can take him as far as I remember with Windows.

I can say that the mac side is 90 per cent doable, the only real thing
that's not accessible is the schene and the I6 errors page.

Best

-James-

Tiddy Ogg

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Apr 27, 2010, 2:19:43 PM4/27/10
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On Sun, 18 Apr 2010 08:09:22 -0700, Jim Aikin <midig...@gmail.com>
wrote:

>Please let us know how the experiment works. If there are problems using
>Inform with Jaws, for example, it would be good to know what they are.

I'm just starting to learn Inform 6 using Jaws. It's handy to use a
text editor that allows you to jump to numbered lines, and setting
Jaws to speak all punctuation is pretty essential, but I'm getting
there, I think.
Is Inform 7 easier to learn?

Jim Aikin

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Apr 27, 2010, 3:15:27 PM4/27/10
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On 4/27/2010 11:19 AM, Tiddy Ogg wrote:
>
> I'm just starting to learn Inform 6 using Jaws. It's handy to use a
> text editor that allows you to jump to numbered lines, and setting
> Jaws to speak all punctuation is pretty essential, but I'm getting
> there, I think.
> Is Inform 7 easier to learn?

That's not a question that has a yes-or-no answer. You'll get no
shortage of opinions from folks around here. Also, bear in mind -- the
new version of Inform 7 is due out within a few days. It may have
features that will bear upon this topic.

My personal view may not be entirely free of bias, but perhaps I can
offer a few insights.

If you have no experience with computer programming, Inform 7 has the
advantage that its code reads more like natural language. Many people
like this. The down-side is that with code that resembles natural
language, there are more ways to go wrong without being able to see
quite what your error is. The code can read in a very natural, sensible
way, and yet it may contain a subtle error that will prevent it from
compiling. Because Inform 6 is more rigid and old-fashioned about
phrasing, I find its code easier to understand at a glance.

Inform 7 has some powerful features built in (such as scenes) that you
would have to create yourself in Inform 6. However, there are also many
extensions available for adding features to Inform 6, just as there are
for Inform 7.

Inform 6 is documented in a way that you may find more straightforward.
The DM4 (the main document for Inform 6) is available as a single long
file, which may be easier for your screen reader to deal with than
Inform 7's multi-page linked documents. Also, Roger Firth has written
some very good Inform 6 tutorials, which are available on the Web.

Inform 7 lets you improvise a bit more with respect to where you put
bits of code. Because Inform 6 is object-oriented, all of the code
governing the behavior of a given object has to be placed within that
object. This can lead to objects whose before routine gets quite
lengthy. In that sense, Inform 7 may have an advantage.

Perhaps other blind users can offer some comments on the ease or
frustrations of using Inform 7. Good luck, and have fun!

--Jim Aikin


James Jolley

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Apr 27, 2010, 5:39:22 PM4/27/10
to
On 2010-04-27 20:15:27 +0100, Jim Aikin <midig...@gmail.com> said:

> On 4/27/2010 11:19 AM, Tiddy Ogg wrote:
>>
>> I'm just starting to learn Inform 6 using Jaws. It's handy to use a
>> text editor that allows you to jump to numbered lines, and setting
>> Jaws to speak all punctuation is pretty essential, but I'm getting
>> there, I think.
>> Is Inform 7 easier to learn?
>
> That's not a question that has a yes-or-no answer. You'll get no
> shortage of opinions from folks around here. Also, bear in mind -- the
> new version of Inform 7 is due out within a few days. It may have
> features that will bear upon this topic.

I'm hoping so.


>
> My personal view may not be entirely free of bias, but perhaps I can
> offer a few insights.
>
> If you have no experience with computer programming, Inform 7 has the
> advantage that its code reads more like natural language. Many people
> like this. The down-side is that with code that resembles natural
> language, there are more ways to go wrong without being able to see
> quite what your error is.

Agreed. Mind you, I do come from a programming background myself but
this was years ago. I find Inform is a nice way to mess about and try
stuff out.

> The code can read in a very natural, sensible way, and yet it may
> contain a subtle error that will prevent it from compiling. Because
> Inform 6 is more rigid and old-fashioned about phrasing, I find its
> code easier to understand at a glance.

You see, I didn't. I hated it personally. I found the lack of a real
IDE a pain, the DM4 was badly written from my perspective - overlly
arrogant in how it read.


>
> Inform 7 has some powerful features built in (such as scenes) that you
> would have to create yourself in Inform 6. However, there are also many
> extensions available for adding features to Inform 6, just as there are
> for Inform 7.

The scenes page works well enough, can be difficult. I would suggest
using you're screen readers ability to read tooltips initially to
inspect the images tags.


>
> Inform 6 is documented in a way that you may find more straightforward.
> The DM4 (the main document for Inform 6) is available as a single long
> file, which may be easier for your screen reader to deal with than
> Inform 7's multi-page linked documents.

In theory, but the actuality these days isn't all that bad. JAWS will
work fine with the HTML pages in Inform, my really old version did in
the day.

> Also, Roger Firth has written some very good Inform 6 tutorials, which
> are available on the Web.
>
> Inform 7 lets you improvise a bit more with respect to where you put
> bits of code. Because Inform 6 is object-oriented, all of the code
> governing the behavior of a given object has to be placed within that
> object. This can lead to objects whose before routine gets quite
> lengthy. In that sense, Inform 7 may have an advantage.

Certainly. I can imagine being quite lost. Some of the declerations can
get long.


>
> Perhaps other blind users can offer some comments on the ease or
> frustrations of using Inform 7. Good luck, and have fun!

> I hope i've offered something.

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