RB §1.1 Preface
The Inform Recipe Book is one of two interlinked books included with Inform 7: a comprehensive collection of examples, showing the practical use of Inform. The other book is Writing with Inform, a systematic manual for the software.
The Recipe Book assumes that the reader already knows the basics covered in Chapters 1 and 2 of Writing with Inform: enough to get simple projects working in the Inform application. It's helpful, but not necessary, to have some familiarity with the main ingredients of Inform. For instance, the reader who can play and test the following source text, and who can take a guess at what it ought to do, should be fine:
The Recipe Book is not a tutorial – it offers advice and examples to crib from, not theory or systematic teaching. The examples here are provided with the express intention that authors cut and paste useful passages into their own works, modifying as they go. This is an excellent way to get things working quickly.
In the traditional saying: good programmers write good code, but great programmers steal it. (Appropriately enough, nobody seems to know who said this first.) For the avoidance of any doubt – the example text is here to be taken, and this infringes no copyright, and requires no acknowledgement. So steal at will. The examples are a part of Inform itself, and as such, they are available to anyone who accepts the Inform licence.
Many programming languages for conventional computing, such as C, come with elaborate libraries of ready-written code – so elaborate, in fact, that they often need much larger manuals than the language itself, and can be hard to learn. Even expert programmers typically use only a small part of what is available in such libraries, giving up on the rest as too complex to use, or too difficult to find out about, or not quite what they need.
The designers of Inform chose not to go down this road. Rather than providing a general system for liquids (say), which would have to be a quite complicated and opaque program, Inform provides a choice of examples showing how to get different effects. The writer can read the text which achieves these effects, and can simply cut and paste whatever might be useful, and rewrite whatever is not quite wanted.
The wider community of Inform writers has made a great wealth of material available in the form of Extensions, too, and under a Creative Commons Attribution licence requiring only a namecheck: we don't cover the Extensions in this book, because it would grow far too long and be a constant labour to maintain, but it's well worth seeing what is out there.
Acknowledgements for a chance to try out the cross-referencing links in the Recipe Book - click on the red asterisk or the name of the destination to go there.