Inform - ZMachine - Interpreters

About interpreters  

Amiga  
Amstrad  
Apple II  
Atari ST  
BeOS  
DOS  
GEM  
Mac OS  
Newton  
Oric  
OS/2  
RISC OS  
Spectrum  
Unix  
Windows  

eBookman  
EPOC  
Gameboy  
Helio  
Nokia  
PalmOS  
Psion  
TI  
Windows CE  
Wizard  

Emacs  
Java  
Javascript  

Glk-based  

Sources  

About Interpreters

The Z-Machine is possibly the most portable virtual machine ever created, meaning that programs generated using Inform can be easily run on machines ranging from the Commodore 64 to the latest Mac OS X system, from the lowliest handheld to the highest-end workstation.

All you need is an interpreter for your platform of choice. To aid browsing the catalogue, interpreters are grouped by platform, and ranked in rough order of functionality.

Infocom's own interpreters were called "ZIP"s (Z-language Interpreter Programs), and were released for a number of systems from the TRS-80 to MS-DOS. The name "ZIP" has also been used for some of the subsequent freeware interpreters, notably Mark Howell's and its descendents.

The highest ideal is that a story file will function identically on every platform, and saved games move freely between interpreters. In practice limitations are imposed by the platform, such as screen size, and interpreters vary in the level of support for particular features.

Versions 1 to 5 of the Z-machine are widely implemented. Higher versions, particularly V6, are rarer.

Things to look out for are:

  • Full support for Z-Machine versions 1 to 8.
  • Conformance to the Z-Machine Standard v1.0.
  • Support for Blorb-format graphics, sound effects and music.
  • Support for Quetzal-format saved game files.
The state-of-the-art interpreters are currently Zip 2000 for RISC OS, which completely implements all current standards, and Zip Infinity for Mac OS and Zoom on Unix and Mac OSX, which come very close. Nitfol has a simplified screen model, but does support Blorb sound and Quetzal and includes many built-in debugging commands.

For Windows, WinFrotz provides a high quality V1-V8 implementation, but does not support Blorb or Quetzal. Windows Frotz 2002 is a newer interpreter based on the later Frotz code and is actively maintained by David Kinder. It includes a full screen model with Blorb and V6, optional Quetzal format, and support for character sets other than Western European.


Last updated 30 November 2004. This web site has not been fully supported since April 2008. Information may be out of date. This page was originally managed by Kevin Bracey or Cedric Knight.