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§25.6. The Release button and the Materials folder
Inform's Release button does two things: it makes a stand-alone, public version of the current project - a "story file" - and it gathers up, or creates, whatever material we want to go with it.
The release version of the project can be played by anyone with an "interpreter" - they do not need the Inform application installed on their computers, and they will not be able to see the source text. Released versions differ slightly from the versions playable in the Story panel of Inform, because debugging commands such as ACTIONS are not included with them. (As we've seen, also excluded is any material in the source text under a heading including the words "not for release".) In some cases, if we release along with an interpreter, we can even make the project playable from a web browser, so that the player doesn't need to install any software at all, not even a browser plugin.
The Release button also creates a ".materials" folder for the project, if one doesn't exist already. (On some platforms, the Inform user interface creates it automatically alongside the project.) Inform adopts the following convention:
The files associated with the project "Whatever.inform" should all be kept in a subfolder called "Whatever.materials" in the same folder that contains the project.
For example, if we have a project filenamed Magician.inform which lives in a folder called "Works in Progress", then files might be arranged like so:
Works in Progress
Of course "Magician" might not actually be the title of the project - it might be an abbreviation, or a working title. The name of the .materials folder has to match the name of the .inform file, not the title.
Several advanced features of Inform make use of the materials folder, and the "Release" button is one of them. It creates a further subfolder called "Release" within the materials folder. This is where it will always place the story file it creates, together with anything released "along with" the story - Inform will not need to put up a dialogue box asking us where to save the story file, because there is already a natural place. For instance, after a successful click on Release, we might then see:
Works in Progress
where "Magician.zblorb" is the actual story file produced by Inform. Note that Inform has made copies of the files to be released with it - the idea is that the Release subfolder contains only what Inform makes, and everything in the Release subfolder can be thrown away at any time.
This is especially useful if we're releasing along with a website (see below), as then the Release subfolder will be exactly what needs to be uploaded to a server to be shown to the world. Equally, the Release subfolder is what can be zipped up and uploaded to archives or (if small enough) emailed out.