Lately, I've been carving out some time evening and weekends to do some programming in Inform7, a language and Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that is designed specifically for the creation of Interactive Fiction. Inform compiles down to Z-Machine byte-code, so games written with Inform are portable to any system which has a Z-Machine interpreter including Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android, Linux, Unix and probably just about every system known to man.
The Inform IDE is pretty cool. It's got color syntax highlighting so you can easily distinguish between Inform keywords, text strings, comments etc. It also makes it easy to run the game from within the IDE or separately compile it into a standalone file that can be run on any platform. In the screenshot above, the source code is in the left hand pane and the running game is on the right. You can click on the image to make it larger.
All of the documentation for Inform is accessible within the IDE which is great, but I still long for a standalone reference manual on the language and libraries. And it would be nice to be able to easily view multiple windows or multiple views into the source code. The Inform IDE is available for Mac, Windows and Linux.
If you're at all interested in creating Interactive Fiction, it's a very nice environment for trying your hand at things. And it's fun and slightly addictive to be programming again! In another post, I'll show some sample code. If you want to dive into Inform, I highly recommend Aaron Reed's book Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7.