The Current State of IF



I am an unhappy IF camper.


I wonder if I am in danger of becoming C.E. Forman? Overlooked by the IF Community — my brilliance totally ignored by the “in crowd?” (That cabal whose existence has long been disputed – BTW, they do.)  Nyah. I can’t write good, but scathing, reviews like he could.


But I am feeling sort of bitter and since that is not acceptable to most iffers, I won’t post it to raif, I will no longer discuss it on the if-mud (not that I have much anyway), and I will not post it to other iffy venue. I’ll vent my spleen here. My blog. All mine.


I lived with my mother for six and a half years, and took care of her for about five of those years (dementia). I return to the IF World to discover I7 and T3. Drat, darn, and other more nasty words. Phooey. Phooey. Phooey.


I spent years learning to program in I5 then I6. Years, you say? Well, not content to code simple little games I tried out every nook and cranny, all the examples (matchbook, matches, transparent objects, driving objects, etc., etc., etc.) and added new things of my own (elevator, a rope tieable at both ends and stretchable between rooms). I wanted to test and try EVERYTHING. So it took years (maybe someday I will release “Stuck”).


Down the drain. My Inform skills are not good for anything anymore.


Well, actually I returned for a brief sojourn to the IF World a bit earlier. Switched from I6 to T2, because I got tired of all that learning and hacking and the more I delved into I6 the more inconsistent and hacky I found it. I realized being consumed by the language was actually deterring me from finishing games. I wanted something more useable “out of the box,” something that would let me write games quickly. Or quicker. T2 did seem to fit the bill and I started to convert two I6 games into it. Went well overall.


But then I7 came down the pike. I helped beta test. Well, for about a month. I quickly discovered that I7 is very, very DSYLEXIC UNFREINDLY. I couldn’t put phrases in different places than the I7 compiler wanted them. My English had to be very, very precise, more than I am usually. Key words were masked in full English sentences so I couldn’t figure out where keywords were SUPPOSED to be placed. Very confusing. (Initially I was very hopeful I7 would be a cleaned up version of I6 and bring me back into the fold. Those hopes were soon dashed.)


I may also need [, }, ; etc. to see program flow, to understand a programming “language’’ – to SEE the logic. That may be either due to my dyslexia or just the fact that I am a long time programmer. To me I7 looked like word problems, the logic obscured by words. After all, in the end programming is really just algebraic formulas, a high level of algebraic formulas. All the conventional programming structures:  brackets, colons/semicolons, and white space are just used to make the formulas easier to see and understand. Without them it seems I cannot see the logic that underlies the code.




A friend asked me, “Well, why not use I6 or T2? They aren’t broken. They work.” Well, why not indeed? Then it really hit me. Community support. Sigh. What if I have a problem coding something in I6 or T2? Right now there are almost no threads in raif for I6. I am sure some will remember HOW to do some things in I6 for a while. But as time goes on those that did know will forget more and more. Most of us must be using a programming language to actively know its details, we grow foggy over time the more we don’t use that language.


T2 is better, more threads. That is because many are not willing to tackle the T3 library yet. But that is changing. It is now “finalized” (basically) and now has some decent documentation (basically). In a year or two there will also be very few T2 threads.


So I feel like an orphan. My I5/I6 programming skills are not needed or even wanted anymore. T2, which I had been just starting, sure I could use I for a while longer. But eventually I would have to switch to T3 just to get some questions answered.


And I feel both have sort exhibited the Peter Principle, risen to the level of their incompetence, i.e. second system problems. I7 is syntaxically fussy, so fussy only those well-grounded in English, the structure of an English sentence, can use it. And it sacrifices programming skill for that fussy syntax. T3 has a MASSIVE library that is intimidating, which makes it feel pretty unapproachable.


Graham used to be my idol. Well, my idol doesn’t have feet of clay, but he does have rather a granite back. A back that is turned to me. I7 is not useable by those that have any sort of problem with English sentence construction. I am rejected. Sob, sob.


So all I am left with is tackling that monster of a T3 library. I think I have found some ways to make it more accessible. If I have, I will be sharing them over time.


We shall see.


(Apologies to Hugo and Alan.)


2 Responses to “The Current State of IF”

  1. 1 sgranade June 13, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t think I6 support is going away for one very important reason: I7 compiles to I6 code. That means that I6 will continue to be supported at a base level, and that also will help those who prefer to code in I6 rather than in I7.

    If that still concerns you, consider Hugo. Hugo still has support, has an active community, and is being developed.

  2. 2 doeadeer June 13, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Uh, huh, yeah, yeah.

    I may stick with I6, I may learn T3. Right now I just want to vent and be bitter. 🙂 I am going over T3 docs, which, frankly, are not the best. But surprisingly, it’s not ALL that different from T2. It may be more learnable than it appears. Older WIPs, naturally will have to stay in I6.

    Thanks sgranade, though, anyway.

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