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Using Extension Libraries

Most TADS 3 projects depend upon the core libraries that come as part of TADS: the system library, which contains the definitions for built-in object types, functions, and the like; and the adv3 library, which defines a comprehensive framework for interactive fiction games.

In addition to the standard libraries, you can use "extension" libraries. These are add-on libraries written by third parties to provide new features that aren't in the basic libraries.

Using extensions is pretty straightforward in princple, although in practice there can be some slight logistical complications. The key is to set everything up the way that Workbench expects it - if you do this, you should have no problems. This chapter has our recommendations for how to set things up.

Folder set-up

An extension is meant to be shared among multiple projects. That means that you probably don't want to keep it in the same folder with your own game's source code - if you did that, you'd have to make separate copies for each game in which you wanted to use the extension.

If you don't keep extensions with your game, where do you keep them? We recommend keeping all of your extensions together in a separate folder that you create just for this purpose. When you installed Workbench, it created a folder in your My Documents folder, called TADS 3; and inside that folder it created another folder called Extensions. This is where we recommend you keep your extension files.

Workbench has an option setting that lets you specify the folder you're using for extensions. The default is the folder the installer created for you - "My Documents\TADS 3\Extensions" - but you can change it to another location if you prefer. Open the Options dialog and go to the System/Extensions page to select a different folder.

For a simple extension that consists of nothing more than a .t file, you can just drop the .t file directly in the Extensions folder.

For a more elaborate, multi-file extension - one that comes with several .t files, or that includes auxiliary files like documentation or graphics resources - you'll probably want to give the extension its own sub-folder. This will keep its files together (so that you won't be left wondering some time down the line which extension a README belongs to, for example). For each multi-file extension, create a subfolder within the Extensions folder, and put the extension's files within the subfolder.

Finding extensions for builds

If you set things up as described above, Workbench and the compiler should automatically find extension files whenever they need to. Workbench automatically searches in the Extensions directory that's set in the options when looking for files that aren't part of your project folder, and it passes the information along to the compiler so that it can search there as well.

If you store any extensions outside of the Extensions folder defined in the options settings, you'll need to add one more setting so that Workbench can find those outliers. Open the Options dialog, and go to the System/Library Paths page. Add the folder containing each outside extension to the list. This will tell Workbench and the compiler to search there when looking for your files.

Sharing your project with other people

Workbench has a command that builds a ZIP file that packages your project's source code for distribution. You can use this feature to send a copy of the project source to a collaborator, for example, or to publish the source code.

The Source ZIP packager omits the system and adv3 libraries from the package. The assumption is that anything that comes packaged with TADS itself would be redundant, since anyone you send the package to would have all of the system files as part of their own TADS installation.

However, the packager doesn't assume that recipients will necessarily have copies of all of the extension libraries you're using. Extensions by definition aren't part of the base system, so recipient might or might not have them installed. Recipients might not even have access to all of the extensions you're using. If you're using a private extension you wrote to share among your own games, but you haven't published it, obviously no one else will have a copy.

To ensure that recipients will be able to build your project, then, the Source ZIP packager has to include the extensions you're using in the project. It does this as follows:

Loading someone else's project

If someone sends you a copy of their project's source code that they bundled up with the Source ZIP packager, you'll have to reverse the process described above. Unfortunately, Workbench can't do this work automatically, because some of it depends on decisions that only you can make.

The first step is to use an UNZIP tool to extract the original files from the ZIP file. There are many good, free UNZIP tools for Windows, and Windows even has built-in support for the format. Create a folder where you want to store the project, and unzip the ZIP file into that folder.

You'll now have a copy of the author's original project source folder layout - the unzip process will reproduce the internal folder structure of the project.

However, if the project uses an extension libraries, you're not quite ready to build it. You first have to "install" the extensions that came bundled with the ZIP file. You can tell if there are any extensions by looking at the project to see if there's an "extensions" folder in the project's source folder - if so, there are extensions you need to install.

As described above, each extension will be bundled up as another ZIP file within the "extensions" folder. You need to install each of these. That's easier than it sounds - all you really have to do is unzip it. The only question is where to put the files. There are two main approaches here:

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