Visual Inform: What I'm doing in detail.

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Giovanni Riccardi

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
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I received some post asking to me what I'm doing in detail with Visual Inform.
So I think the better thing is to give to all of you a description of this
project.

IMPORTANT: Actually Visual Inform project is at the beginning (I have only
designed the development enviroment, no functions have been coded), so the
project can be usefully changed in according to comments of future users.

I'm going to describe a (virtual) working session with Visual Inform.

(1) Double click on Visual Inform icon.
(2) A message box appears asking if you want to create a new project or open
one from the list of the most recents.
(3) Select new
(4) A window alled "Map Editor" appears. The only thing you have to do is
drawing a map representing rooms in your IF game and then connect them in the
proper way. When you have done select OK.
(5) The main window appears. It is divided in 2 sections: the "Project Window"
and the "Object Window".The first one is a Treeview box representing the object
tree of your story file. It should be something like this:

|
\--General
| |
| \---Headline
| |
| \---Declarations
| |
| \---Grammar
| |
| \---Verbs
| |
| \---Initialise
|
\--Routines
\--Classes
\--Objects

Selecting various items in the project window results in a change in the object
window.
So if you select
- HEADLINE: you have to set various constants such as Story and Headline. You
have not to write all the Inform sintax (Constant Story = "This is my game")
but simply write constant's initial value in a text box.
- DECLARATIONS: you have to declare Attributes, Properties, Globals, Contants
and Arrays you have planned to use in your game. All of these are stored
internally (also library's) so that if you use in some routine something
undeclared a message box appears warning you (a sort of pre-debugging).
- GRAMMAR: Add verb, write their sintax and extend library grammar.
- VERBS: Write routine for all the verbs you have previously declared in the
grammar section.
- INITIALISE: Write Inform code for this Routine.

- ROUTINES section contains all the general routines used in the game. If you
want to add a new routine , select Add Routine from the menu or push the buttom
in the toolbar.
In the object Window you have to set routine name and write code for it.
- CLASSES section contains all classes. Same as Routines if you want to add a
new class.
- OBJECTS actually contains all the rooms you have added in the map editor. Now
you have to add new objects and set its features in the object window. This is
divided in four sections: properties (select properties an object provides,
then write code), attributes (check what attribute the objet has), class
(select what classes the object inherits from), private (encapsulate object's
private properties). Some special rules for some properties (after, before,
life) : select the property, select the action you want to write code for, then
write code.

OTHER FEATURES:
--------------

(1) All your work is saved in a special file format that handles objects'
structure, but you can build an Inform *.inf file whenever you want.
(2) Run Inform compiler and Z-Machine interpreter directly from Visual Inform.
(3) Menu editor
(4) Hints editor
(5) On line help
(6) Sintax highlighting
(7) Inform Universal Library (I'd like to collect all objects, routines and
classes most commonly used in an IF game, so that you can pick up a function
from the library then insert it in your game).
(8) All you need in an IF development enviroment.

Hope this can be useful to someone else in IF community.

Bye to all,
Giovanni.


----------------------------------------
-----------------------------
"Sometimes entangled in your own dreams"
-- Genesis "Entangled"
-----------------------------
Giovanni Riccardi
g.ric...@speednet.it
Terracina ITALY
----------------------------------------


Mary K. Kuhner

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

In article <01bc1693$8df6da20$aeaa...@g.riccardi.speednet.it> "Giovanni Riccardi" <g.ric...@speednet.it> writes:
>(7) Inform Universal Library (I'd like to collect all objects, routines and
>classes most commonly used in an IF game, so that you can pick up a function
>from the library then insert it in your game).

Can I humbly suggest that this would be a great place to start?
We seem to spend a lot of time re-inventing the wheel, and even people
who are otherwise not enamoured of Visual Inform might well be lured
in by the prospect of not having to code up yet another version of
the standard tricks. There is some of this in the contributions
library, but it could be taken a lot further.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Russ Bryan

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
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In article <01bc1693$8df6da20$aeaa...@g.riccardi.speednet.it>, "Giovanni
Riccardi" <g.ric...@speednet.it> wrote:

> I received some post asking to me what I'm doing in detail with Visual Inform.
> So I think the better thing is to give to all of you a description of this
> project.

<SNIP>

What platform are you designing Visual Inform for? It sounds like a great
idea, although I hope you're implementing the ability to add your own
properties and attributes to the interface. I didn't notice that in the
features list, so I thought I'd mention it.

ЛЛ Russ

--
"Forever caught in desert lands, one has to learn to disbelieve the sea."

Russ Bryan (cle...@javanet.com) Л Genesis

David Gasior

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
to

In article <01bc1693$8df6da20$aeaa...@g.riccardi.speednet.it>,
g.ric...@speednet.it says...

>I received some post asking to me what I'm doing in detail with Visual Inform.
>So I think the better thing is to give to all of you a description of this
>project.

As a long time Infocom player, and former AGT-user, I am looking forward to a
project like this as I want to try doing another text adventure game, and
Inform seems to be the way to do it.

Please keep us updated, and if you need beta-testers, let me know.

--
David Gasior
dga...@ix.netcom.com


Matthew Amster-Burton

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
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dga...@ix.netcom.com (David Gasior) wrote:

>As a long time Infocom player, and former AGT-user, I am looking forward to a
>project like this as I want to try doing another text adventure game, and
>Inform seems to be the way to do it.

Unlike some others here, I would love to have a product like Visual
Inform, but I agree with the naysayers that it would not make Inform
any easier to learn--probably harder. Programming is programming, and
I hope that this poster does not assume that a visual system would
make the language any easier to learn.

Basically what Visual Inform comes down to is a glorified text editor,
which as all Emacs fans know, is no flame--it's a great thing to have.
A good text editor should have color syntax highlighting, compile in
the background (will VI do this), and have some understanding of your
language so that it can collapse objects in an outline form. There
should be an object browser as well, and, since this is IF, a map
editor. I realize some old-time programmers tried using an IDE, hated
it, and went back to their command line. I would also respectfully
suggest that those programmers are in the minority, and the majority
of us who don't mind leaning on tools even at the expense of a few
brain cells will welcome VI or VTads or whatever.

Matthew

David Gasior

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Feb 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/11/97
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In article <32ff5098...@news.u.washington.edu>, mam...@u.washington.edu
says...

>Basically what Visual Inform comes down to is a glorified text editor,
>which as all Emacs fans know, is no flame--it's a great thing to have.

Exactly. I couldn't program a Web Page in FrontPage 97 or HotDog or any of
those other programs. But give me Notepad and I can knock one off in an hour.
But those "glorified" editors do help in keeping you from worrying about
correct structure, and forgetting END statements or the like, which I find the
worst about programming.

--
David Gasior
dga...@ix.netcom.com


Giovanni Riccardi

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Feb 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/11/97
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Russ Bryan <cle...@javanet.com> wrote in article
<cleofax-ya0240800...@news.javanet.com>...

> In article <01bc1693$8df6da20$aeaa...@g.riccardi.speednet.it>, "Giovanni
> Riccardi" <g.ric...@speednet.it> wrote:
>

> > I received some post asking to me what I'm doing in detail with Visual
Inform.
> > So I think the better thing is to give to all of you a description of this
> > project.
>

> <SNIP>
>
> What platform are you designing Visual Inform for? It sounds like a great
> idea, although I hope you're implementing the ability to add your own
> properties and attributes to the interface. I didn't notice that in the
> features list, so I thought I'd mention it.
>
> ЛЛ Russ
>
> --
> "Forever caught in desert lands, one has to learn to disbelieve the sea."
>
> Russ Bryan (cle...@javanet.com) Л Genesis
>

I'm developing Visual Inform for WIN95/NT platforms.

Bye to all
Giovanni

John Holder

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Feb 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/12/97
to

David Gasior (dga...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
:But those "glorified" editors do help in keeping you from worrying about
:correct structure, and forgetting END statements or the like, which I find the
:worst about programming.

Back when I was in school, we played with an syntax-directed editor called
"SynGen" that was, well, at least interesting. When you wanted to insert
a new control structure, you clicked the middle mouse button and traversed a
menu or to to insert it, so, if it was for C, inserting a "while" construct
inserted:

while (<cond>) {
<stmt-lst>
}

And you could furthur develop the meta-syntax by clicking on it and mousing
to the proper structure.

While the rat-usage factor was _way_ too high, it was interesting, especially
in that you could pop up a side-by-side window which would show you what
the assembly for the code written so far would look like.

But it wasn't interesting enough for me to use it for real(tm) work...

John

--
John Holder (jho...@frii.com) /\ http://www.frii.com/~jholder/
UNIX Specialist, Paranet Inc. <--> Raytracing|Fractals|Interactive Fiction
http://www.paranet.com/ \/ Homebrewing|Strange Attractors

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