Understand "Inform 7" as Teh Awesome.

Accepted Session
Long Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 28, 2012 from 10:00 – 11:45am in B204


Y'know those "Interactive Fiction" (IF) text-adventure thingies? Inform 7 is a language for writing IF in the style of English prose. It's also a neat idea for general modeling. Let's build a simple world together while learning some of what Inform 7 is about.


Graham Nelson’s Inform 7 is a language and system for writing IF (available for Mac, Windows and Linux); it gives non-programmers the ability to construct rich virtual textual worlds by writing simple descriptive English sentences. I’m emphatically not a non-programmer (hah), but I think Inform 7 is one of the coolest languages I’ve come across.

Here’s an extremely simple world built with Inform 7:

“Understand ‘Inform 7’ as Teh Awesome.” by “Bart Massey”

Understand “Inform 7” as Teh Awesome.

The Inform 7 Environment is a room. “The Inform 7 Environment is where the action happens!” Teh Awesome is in it. The description is “This is Teh Awesome, but you can call it ‘Inform 7’.”

Here’s a transcript from “playing” in that world. The italic text was typed by me.

Understand ‘Inform 7’ as Teh Awesome
An Interactive Fiction by Bart Massey

Inform 7 Environment
The Inform 7 Environment is where the action happens!

You can see Teh Awesome here.

>examine awesome
This is Teh Awesome, but you can call it “Inform 7”.

>take inform 7

You are carrying: Teh Awesome

>examine me
As good-looking as ever.

Time passes.


As you can see, it is trivial to create rooms and objects in Inform 7. Even better, though, is that the language grows with your desires. As you climb higher and higher with your virtual world skills and ambitions, the Inform 7 scaffolding is there to support you.

In this session, we will learn the basics of Inform 7 by creating an IF world together. If you bring a laptop, you can play along with our world or create your own as we work. I will also try to showcase some of the potential uses of this style of world modeling other than creating fiction and games.

Speaking experience

I would estimate that I have given about 50 public talks and more than 1000 classroom presentations. My talk (http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/579) last year at Open Source Bridge seems to have been well-received, as well as my colleagues' and my joint talk (http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/583).

I plan to give a programming-language-oriented Inform 7 talk as a kickoff talk for a new local group studying esoteric programming languages in February. I also hope to focus on the use of Inform 7 as a GUI modeling tool in a presentation proposed for the upcoming TechIgnite.


  • Beach headshot 320x200

    Bart Massey

    Portland State University


    Bart Massey has been geeking around with community computing for 35 years, and has been involved in Free Software and Open Source since its inception. For the past 15 years, he has been a CS Prof at Portland State University, where he works in open tech, software engineering, artificial intelligence and low-level software development.

    Bart’s titles include Member of the PSU MCECS Innovation Program Board and past Secretary of the X.Org Foundation Board. Bart is the architect of the X library XCB, a modern replacement for Xlib, and the author of the XCB image extension. His current open tech interests include Haskell, open hardware and building bridges between pieces of the open tech community. He was one of the original participants in the Open Source Bridge conversation.