Inform - Welcome - Manual


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Download the Inform Designer's Manual

The DM4 can be freely downloaded in various formats using the links below. Newcomers may find the best place to start reading is Chapter II, the outline of designing with Inform.

Inform Designer's Manual, Fourth Edition: July 2001 (PDF)     Download (2900KB) 
The complete text in a single PDF file, which is enhanced with a number of navigational aids. All chapters and sections (and most subsections) are bookmarked: try the "Show Bookmarks" feature of Acrobat. Clicking on a page number in purple ink jumps to that page (which is especially useful for page numbers in the index); similarly for section and chapter numbers. The reddish EXERCISE heading for any exercise links to its answer. The page numbers at the bottom right corner of each page link to page iii where the Contents begin, except in the case of page iii itself, which links to the General Index.
Inform - Support - Patches - DM4 misprints     Link  
Known problems with the current edition of the Inform Designer's Manual.
Inform 6 Reference Addendum: July 2020     Link  
Changes to the Inform language and compiler since the Inform Designer's Manual was written.
Inform Designer's Manual, Fourth Edition (HTML files)     Link  
Browsable online, with one HTML page per section. Converted to HTML and with an addendum by David Welbourn.
Inform Designer's Manual, Fourth Edition (HTML tarball)     Download (945KB) 
The HTML files compressed in a .tar.gz archive.
Inform Designer's Manual, Fourth Edition (HTML zipped)     Download (1108KB) 
The HTML files compressed in a .zip archive.
Inform Designer's Manual, Fourth Edition (CHM format)     Download (1600KB) 
The complete text in a single CHM (Compiled HTML) file, suitable for use with Windows Help. Bookmarks are organised by chapter and section, with the same internal links as the PDF version. Compiled from the HTML by David Cornelson.

You can also download the individual chapters of the Designer's Manual:
DM4 Preliminary Matter (PDF)     Download (160KB) 
Title page, imprint page (with copyright declaration) and detailed contents.
DM4 Introduction (PDF)     Download (140KB) 
The author's introduction and welcome to Inform, together with acknowledgements to some of the very many people who contributed to the book's production.
DM4 Chapter I: The Inform Language (PDF)     Download (412KB) 
A comprehensive guide to the underlying language in which Inform code is written. Newcomers will probably want to pass on to Chapter II, referring back to Chapter I only as needed.
Section 1. Routines; Section 2. The state of play; Section 3. Objects
DM4 Chapter II: Introduction to Designing (PDF)     Download (300KB) 
Introducing the main ideas involved, and beginning 'Ruins', the example running throughout the first half of the book.
Section 4. 'Ruins' begun; Section 5. Introducing messages and classes; Section 6. Actions and reactions; Section 7 Infix and the debugging verbs
DM4 Chapter III: The Model World (PDF)     Download (616KB) 
This chapter, much the most frequently needed, covers how to simulate an interactive world.
Section 8. Places and scenery; Section 9. Directions and the map; Section 10. Food and drink; Section 11. Clothing; Section 12. Containers, supporters and sub-objects; Section 13. Doors; Section 14. Switchable objects; Section 15. Things to enter, travel in and push around; Section 16. Reading matter and consultation; Section 17. People and animals; Section 18. Making conversation; Section 19. The light and the dark; Section 20. Daemons and the passing of time; Section 21. Starting, moving, changing and killing the player; Section 22. Miscellaneous constants, scoring, quotations; Section 23. 'Ruins' revisited; Section 24. The world model described; Section 25. Extending and redefining the world model
DM4 Chapter IV: Describing and Parsing (PDF)     Download (420KB) 
The textual communication between player and computer happens automatically so far as the designer is concerned, but for finer effects one needs to improve and extend it.
Section 26. Describing objects and rooms; Section 27. Listing and grouping objects; Section 28. How nouns are parsed; Section 29. Plural names for duplicated objects; Section 30. How verbs are parsed; Section 31. Tokens of grammar; Section 32. Scope and what you can see; Section 33. Helping the parser out of trouble
DM4 Chapter V: Natural Language (PDF)     Download (288KB) 
The theoretical methods used by Inform to understand natural language, and how to translate it to languages other than English.
Section 34. Linguistics and the Inform parser; Section 35. Case and parsing noun phrases; Section 36. Parsing non-English languages; Section 37. Names and messages in non-English languages.
DM4 Chapter VI: Using the Compiler (PDF)     Download (264KB) 
A short chapter on options such as asking the compiler to print out helpful statistics, or to process a whole batch of story files at once.
Section 38. Controlling compilation from within; Section 39. Controlling compilation from without; Section 40. All the Inform error messages.
DM4 Chapter VII: The Z-Machine (PDF)     Download (312KB) 
The Z-Machine is the (most commonly used) virtual computer on which Inform story files run. This chapter aims to introduce only those features potentially useful to Inform designers, and as such is not a full specification, which can be found on the Standards documents elsewhere on this site.
Section 41. Architecture and assembly; Section 42. Devices and opcodes; Section 43. Pictures, sounds, blurbs and Blorb; Section 44. Case study: a library file for menus; Section 45. Limitations and getting around them.
DM4 Chapter VIII: The Craft of Adventure (PDF)     Download (504KB) 
Really a separate book in itself: a brief monograph on 20th-century interactive fiction.
Section 46. A brief history of interactive fiction; Section 47. Realities and origins; Section 48. A triangle of identities; Section 49. Structure; Section 50. The design of puzzles; Section 51. The room description; Section 52. Finishing.
DM4 Appendices Giving Specifications (PDF)     Download (248KB) 
Section A1. Library attributes; Section A2. Library properties; Section A3. Library routines; Section A4. Library message numbers; Section A5. Entry point routines.
DM4 Solutions to Exercises (PDF)     Download (360KB) 
Section A6. Answers to all the exercises.
DM4 Quick-Reference Tables (PDF)     Download (152KB) 
Table 1. Operators; Table 2. The ZSCII Character Set; Table 3. Command Line Switches; Table 4. Statements; Table 5. Directives; Table 6. Library actions
DM4 Bibliography and Indexes (PDF)     Download (860KB) 
Cited works of interactive fiction (with full bibliographic data and details of availability); Index of exercises; General index.

Last updated 24 July 2020. This site is no longer supported; information may be out of date.
Maintained as a historical archive by the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. Copyright 1993-2018 IFTF, CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.
This page was originally managed by Roger Firth.