The Treaty of Babel: A Standard for IF Bibliography

The Treaty of Babel: Software and a standard for IF bibliography

Since the 1980s, writers of interactive fiction have used a variety of programs to create new works. Some were in-house tools used by commercial IF production houses, but from around 1990 IF has been written by a diverse Internet community, using tools written, tested and evolved within the community. With few exceptions, the virtual machines used by different design systems have been mutually incompatible. Although a number of multi-format interpreters have been written, and the IF community prefers a format-independent approach to reviewing and discussing works of IF, few tools exist (as of the start of 2006) which treat all formats equally.

The Treaty is an agreement between active design systems, the IF-archive and other interested parties. It provides for:

  • ISBN-like unique ID numbers for story files, old and new, produced by commercial or non-commercial compilers living and dead;
  • a standard format for cover art and bibliographic data;
  • a web server able to provide these for a given ID number;
  • a command-line tool able to identify and extract data from story files in any format;
  • reference software providing a format-neutral API for reading story files, and removing “wrappers”.

The aim of the treaty, and of the Babel software, is to make it much easier to write new tools for players in which the distinction of which design system created which story file is much less visible.

This is the home page of the Treaty of Babel.

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26 April 2006 (updated 24 October 2014)
L. Ross Raszewski, for Babel
Andrew Plotkin, David Kinder and Paul Mazaitis, for the IF Archive
Graham Nelson, for Inform
Mike Roberts, for TADS
Kent Tessman, for Hugo
Campbell Wild, for ADRIFT
Andrew Plotkin, for Blorb
Andrew Hunter, for the Zoom interpreter
David Kinder, for the Windows Frotz interpreter

I got through way more of the spec than is warranted, given my interest. I like this exists, it makes one thing of a time when folks did neat stuff together on the net.

It also reminds me how much IF folks deal with copyright, that shit is a curse. CC0, yo. CC0. Until something better comes along. :weary: