Using TextPad with Inform
TextPad is a splendid text editor for Windows: powerful, packed full of useful features, and still easy to use. It's available as a shareware download from www.textpad.com. While there, also visit www.textpad.com/add-ons/ to download txplink4.zip (which fixes Windows so that attempts to call the much inferior NotePad simply fire up TextPad instead), and www.textpad.com/add-ons/hmsyn.html to fetch inform2.zip.
Once you've downloaded those files, do this:
Even if you do nothing else, you've got yourself a crackin' good editor. However, it's very straightforward to teach TextPad some tricks which will greatly enhance your Inform productivity.
Creating a TextPad document class
A document class is a family of files having the same extension: for Inform, that's .INF. Follow these steps:
Now, any Inform source file that you edit will automatically use syntax highlighting and the other display preferences that you've set. Easy!
Running the compiler within TextPad
Here's how to configure TextPad so that a single keystroke automatically compiles the file that you're editing. Follow these steps:
If you select Tools from the menu bar, you'll see Infrmw32 has appeared as the last item, with a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+1. Try it: open an Inform file in TextPad, hold down the Ctrl key, and press 1. If you're lucky, you'll see "Tool completed successfully". More likely, you'll get some compiler error messages. Double-click on one of those messages to jump straight to the appropriate line in your Inform file.
Running the interpreter within TextPad
Use exactly the same process so that a single keystroke runs the interpreter. Follow these steps:
Now, if you select Tools from the menu bar, you'll see WinFrotz with a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+2. Try it: open a valid Inform file in TextPad, compile it (Ctrl+1) close the "Success" window and then press Ctrl+2 to open it in the interpreter.
The instructions here set up TextPad to compile and run a Version 5 game. Using exactly the same processes, you could also configure Ctrl+2,3 to handle Version 8 games, and Ctrl+5,6 for Glulx. These are left as exercises for the reader.
If you wish to change the Ctrl+1 and Ctrl+2 keyboard shortcuts, follow these steps:
Note on Glulx error messages
(I'm indebted to Petar Kanuritch for this information.) The Inform and Glulx compilers can output their compilation results in three different styles:
where -En is the switch which sets the related style of error message. For each one, TextPad requires a different Regular Expression to match the output and enable a jump to the correct line. These are:
The default entered by TextPad in the "Regular Expression to match output:" box is, happily, exactly the -E1 setting; even better, Inform defaults to -E1 style on a PC, so it all works nicely without further ado. However, Glulx defaults to -E0, so either (a) change TextPad's regular expression to the -E0 setting, or (b) include -E1 in TextPad's setting for Parameters.