Inform: Past, Present and Future

Harnum, Alan aharnum at ocadu.ca
Tue Oct 2 15:29:20 UTC 2018


Those interested in language design and the psychology of programming (which is to say, many on this list) may enjoy this transcription from June of a talk by the creator of the Inform programming language, which is used for making interactive fiction (text adventures, to the Infocom crowd): http://www.emshort.com/ifmu/inform.html

Excerpt of the talk that gives some of the flavour:

"These few sentences do quite a lot of work. 'Sophie likes purple', for example, creates both the person Sophie and the colour purple, whose existence Inform has deduced from the fact that they are connected by the binary predicate 'liking(x, y)'. In a typical Java or Python program, you would have to simulate this either by putting lots of code about colours into your definition of people, or vice versa, which is a convoluted way of trying to use unary predicates instead: either 'sophie-likes(x)' for x = purple, or 'purple-is-liked-by(x)' for x = Sophie. Either way round, that's unnatural, I think. Inform sees binary predicates like 'liking' as being first-class concepts in themselves, not as behaviours of either participant."

Many appearances by Donald Knuth as well.
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