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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:21 am 
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This piqued my curiosity: "Some features from Inform have made their way into other programming languages."

I can think of plenty of Inform features that would make a great addition to other languages, but it would be interesting to hear some actual examples.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:25 am 
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what has piqued my interest is the part about the backend, because helps in repairing the occasional crashing of ni under Linux GUI. Now hopefully I can better aim my "engineering kicks" ;)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:47 pm 
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Eleas wrote:
Oh, I wouldn't put it quite like that. I'm not disappointed regarding Preform.

I was only including myself when I said I was disappointed. Sorry if didn't look like it!

I'm still really happy with what is being done on Inform.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:43 pm 
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Natrium729 wrote:
I'm a bit disappointed there were no discussion about Preform, as Eleas said.


Pardon my newbie ignorance, but what's Preform?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:47 pm 
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No need to apologise! Preform was never really announced publicly, I think.

I may be simplifying a bit, but Preform is the specification of the syntax of the natural language Inform uses. Go in the folder containing the Inform program, then to Internal/Languages/English; there is a file named "Syntax.preform" there (on mac, you have to right-click and show package's content). Inform uses what is written in this file to parse and "understand" the natural language.

So in theory, if you translate that file, you can write your source in another language (say, French). In practice, Inform doesn't read syntax file for languages other than English so you have to include the Preform in language extensions. The problem is to work, some Preform must be read very early during compilation, and extensions are not read early enough, so not all works. (You could write the Preform at the start of your project, but it's not practical to copy a huge text like that at the start of every project.)

For example, this bit of the French extension translates the articles so that they can be written directly in French in the source.

I've written an experimental extension so that one can write his source in French. It attempts to translate all the Preform and the phrases. Not all is functional and it uses various hacks until all is properly integrated into Inform, but it's quite cool (according to me at least!). See for example my Inform projects, such as this one.

Graham Nelson had the project to allow Inform's source to be fully translatable, that's why I was disappointed he did not mention Preform. But since it only affects directly a small part of the Inform community, it's also understandable.

Sorry if this post got a bit technical! :geek:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:12 am 
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Can't you just have users replace the English.preform file manually?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:51 am 
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You can, and in fact I already tried to translate it directly. The problem is that Inform needs to understand English, whatever the language your source is written in. One reason is that extensions, such as the Standard Rules, are written in English.

I could write both English and French syntax in the same file, but I think it can cause some issues and ambiguities, and it would just be too much work.

And now that there is supposed to be a new version of Inform coming this year, I think it's better to wait and see if things will change.

(This discussion is a bit off the initial subject now, I believe.)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:00 am 
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Natrium729 wrote:
Graham Nelson had the project to allow Inform's source to be fully translatable, that's why I was disappointed he did not mention Preform. But since it only affects directly a small part of the Inform community, it's also understandable.

Sorry if this post got a bit technical! :geek:


Thanks, really appreciate the explanation. (I like technical.) Interesting that there's a Languages/French folder just waiting for a Preform file. The fact that it impacts only a small minority of current users is not the right way to judge the value of multi-lingual support. Multi-lingual support is a way to grow the Inform community and, therefore, the IF community.

The way I read the presentation, I believe all feature implementation is on hold, not just multi-lingual support, until the code restructuring is finished.

It's like rebuilding the foundation before building an addition on a house. It doesn't change much about the livability of the current structure, but you can't make any other improvements until it's done.

He mentions wanting to support choice and touch based user interfaces and I think that is driving the need for deep restructuring. Responding to muliple kinds of input may be like adding a room onto a house.

It's possible that supporting muliple Preform files is more like redecorating an existing room, not that difficult compared to the other work, but most likely put off until the major construction is done so that it doesn't have to be done twice.

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