13. Testing and Publishing

Recipe Book

RB §13.1 Testing

There are no recipes for testing, alas, although most experienced IF authors have their preferred ways of going about it. Briefly: the best advice is to build and maintain a Skein which holds complete play-throughs of the piece, so that it is easy to check with a single click that all is still well; to have beta-testers who play through (substantial) drafts and send back their transcripts of play, along with suggestions; and to listen to these suggestions, and treat the beta-testers as editors rather than galley slaves.

Alpha shows a way to gracefully accept beta-testers' annotations without advancing time in the story.

Most large works of IF have historically provided secret commands for testing and debugging – commands removed (or sometimes accidentally not) in the final released product. Inform does this automatically: the commands SHOWME, ACTIONS and SCENES are always present except in a released story file. It also allows us to write passages of source text which apply only for the testing phase, so that we can define new testing commands, or other checks that all is well: Bic demonstrates this, and is also useful in its own right.


Testing to make sure that all objects have been given descriptions.
Creating a beta-testing command that matches any line starting with punctuation.

RB §13.2 Publishing

These three examples simply show what can be done using Inform's EPS-format map output, if one is willing to tweak the design in some vector-art program. Unfortunately, at present, there are few alternatives to Adobe Illustrator – a superb but very expensive program – in the field of EPS editing, and indeed, of vector art generally: this is especially the case for Windows users. Inkscape is a usable free alternative, but it needs to have EPS files translated to PDFs before they can be used. On Mac OS X, the built-in Preview application can do this; otherwise the open-source Ghostscript might be used, but it can be a pain to install. Still, for the IF author who does have EPS editing facilities available, Inform will play nicely with them.


Creating a floorplan of the cathedral using the locations from previous examples.
Port Royal scenario given instructions for an EPS map.
Creating a map of Greece using the locations from previous examples.