Workbench Project Starter Templates
TADS Workbench for Windows features a "New Project" command that generates all of the files necessary to compile and run a skeleton game. This saves the author the trouble of copying all of the boilerplate for the .t3m and .t files making up the project.
If you're creating your own library that's designed to replace Adv3, Workbench provides a way for you to plug in your own project starter templates so that Workbench users can just as easily create new projects based on your library. This section describes how to create a project template.
Template file format
When Workbench displays the New Project dialog, it offers a list of project configurations for the user to choose from. Each entry in this list comes from a project starter template file, which has the suffix .tdb-project-starter. Workbench searches for all files with this suffix in the Extensions folder, each folder in the Library Paths list, and in the Workbench library folder. (Workbench searches all subfolders of each of these folders as well.)
To create an entry for your library in the New Project dialog, then, you just need to create a template file, and include it in your library folder.
The template file contains text in a special format, with instructions for Workbench on how to create the project. The file uses a simple name/value pair format, with one item per line. An item looks like this:
The name must be at the very start of the line, with no leading spaces. If a line starts with one or more spaces, it's read as a continuation of the previous line. This allows you to break up long values over several lines if needed for readability:
name: This is a value that goes on for quite a while, requiring several lines to make it all fit neatly.
When Workbench reads the file, it joins these lines together as though the value had appeared all on the same line. Workbench replaces each line break, along with all of the leading spaces on the following line, with a single space.
Here's a list of the name elements and what they mean:
- name: The title of the project configuration. This is
displayed in the New Project dialog in the list of available
project types. You should use something short and descriptive;
it doesn't have to be an exhaustive description, because the
desc value is also displayed in the same list.
The standard project starters included with Workbench use these
- Adv3 - Introductory
- Adv3 - Advanced
- Adv3 - Introductory - Web UI
- Adv3 - Advanced - Web UI
- Plain T3
- desc: A detailed description of the project. This is displayed in the New Project dialog, under the name. This should be a couple of sentences describing your library and the type of project this template would create.
- source: The name of a source (.t) file that you provide
as part of your library folder, that's meant to be copied
into the user's new project folder. The value for this item
is the name of the file that you provide, optionally followed by
a space and the name of the file as it should appear in the user's
copy. If you include only one name, the same name is used for
the user's copy. If you provide two names, the second name can
use a dollar sign ($) as a substitution parameter: this is replaced
with the project name that the New Project dialog asks the user to
choose. For example, suppose that the user enters "test one"
as the project name. If you enter this source item:
source: start.t $.t
then the file start.t that you provide in your library folder will be copied into the new project folder with the name test one.t.
Note that the $ can be used anywhere in the target file name; it doesn't have to be the entire name. For example, if you write $-actors.t in the example above, the user's copy of the file would be test one-actors.t.
You can use the source item repeatedly, if you wish, to copy multiple source files to the new project folder. Simply give each file a separate source line.
You can place the source files to be copied into a subfolder of your library folder. If you do, simply use a relative Windows-style path in the source line:
source: samples\start.t $.t
Workbench adds the source items to the new project's .t3m file in the same order in which they appear in the template file.
- lib: The name of a source (.t) or library (.tl) file to
include in the project's build list, but without copying
it to the user's project folder. This is for files that will be
included in the project directly from your library. As with
source, you can include as many lib items as you like.
Workbench adds the files named in lib items to the new project's .t3m in the same order in which they appear in the template file.
- sysfile: The name of a system source (.t) or library (.tl) file to include in the project's build list. This works just like lib, except that these files are taken from the Workbench standard library folder rather than from your library folder. Use this for files like tok.t or tadsnet.t that come with the standard Workbench distribution.
- define: A preprocessor symbol to define. The value is
a symbol, optionally followed by an equals sign (=) and the
text to define for the symbol:
Workbench will generate the appropriate compiler option to define the symbol in the macro preprocessor when the user builds the project. You can use as many define options as you need; simply use a separate define item for each symbol you wish to define.
- sequence: A number giving the sorting order for this item. This is intended for use by the standard templates included with Workbench; replacement libraries should generally omit this. When displaying the list of available project types, Workbench puts items with sequence items at the top of the list, in order of their sequence values, followed by the remaining items sorted in alphabetic order of their name strings. The intention is that standard system items are displayed first, followed by third-party libraries.
Here's the template included with the standard Workbench installation for the Introductory Adv3 Web UI project type.
name: Adv3 - Introductory - Web UI sequence: 3 desc: Create a game based on the Adv3 library for Web browser play. Your new project will be set up for deployment on Web servers, so that users can play in a browser without installing any TADS software. This project starter includes a working game scenario as an example to help you get started. source: samples\startI3.t $.t lib: adv3web.tl sysfile: webui.tl sysfile: tadsnet.t define: TADS_INCLUDE_NET define: LANGUAGE=en_us define: MESSAGESTYLE=neu
To distribute your library, simply create a ZIP file with all of your .t, .tl, and .tdb-project-starter files. Instruct users to install your library by following these steps:
- Run Workbench, and verify that the Extensions folder is set up. This setting can be found by selecting the Tools - Options menu command and going to the System - Extensions pane. The Workbench installer normally sets this to "My Documents\TADS 3\Extensions", but users can change it if they prefer to keep extensions somewhere else. If there's no setting, the user should set it now.
- Create a folder especially for your library in the Extensions folder.
- Unzip your library files into the new folder.
There's no extra step to install your project template. Simply include the .tdb-project-starter file in the folder containing your library's .t and .tl files. Workbench automatically searches for .tdb-project-starter files in the Extensions folder tree (including sub-folders) and all of the folders in Library Paths list.