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Re: Heirarchy

daemon@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Mon Nov 15 11:58:28 1993 )

To: Lynx <BRANDON@cc.usu.edu>
Cc: coldstuff@MIT.EDU
In-Reply-To: Your message of Mon, 15 Nov 93 00:20:04 -0600.
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 93 11:45:14 EST
From: Greg Hudson <ghudson@MIT.EDU>

First, as of this message, all mail to this list is being archived.
The archive isn't available outside of MIT at the moment; I'll work on
that later.  At any rate, I consider all mail sent to this list to be

Okay, some comments on the hierarchy:

I'm currently naming $verb_handling and $command_handling as $verbs
and $commands.  I'm not sure this is best; perhaps $has_verbs and
$command_handling would be better.  (I don't think that verb handling
can really be done on a single ancestor of objects with verbs while
maintaining the same efficiency as the Cold World system--what I'm
moving towards now is a single object that keeps track of verb caches
on all currently active objects in the database, and makes building
verb caches unnecessary.)

Some people thought that $physical was non-intuitive as an ancestor of
things like exits, which are part of the vr, but not tangible objects.
So I'm callling it $vr instead.  (The idea being that you could blow
away $vr and all of its kids and end up with most of the programming
parts of the system intact.)

I didn't include $help_containing in the hierarchy I proposed, because
I decided I didn't know anything about help systems.  After some
conversation and thought about this, I think the appropriate system
should be some variation on the following:

	* $has_help goes back in the hierarchy in the same form as it
	was before.

	* There is some object (call it $help_db for now) which
	maintains a list of global help topics (for instance, help on
	"administration" would probably go here).

	* When you ask for help on a word, you search for help on
	$help_db, and then on every object in the environment.  You
	can can also ask for help on a word on a particular object, or
	for a list of help topics contained on a given object.

	* When you just types 'help', you get a listing from $help_db.

	* When you ask for help on <obj>.<methodname>, you get help
	from comments extracted from the method listing.  (Thus, help
	on methods also shows up when you look at the method
	directly, and you can write your method documentation in the
	same place as you write the method.)

If I understand things correctly, this is an embellished version of
the LambdaMOO system, which works okay.  One criticism I've heard of
the MOO system is that, in pratice, help tends to be set up to be a
complete reference, rather than a good introduction.  Examples are
difficult to find, and you have to wade through lots of text to learn
how to use a command which is used one way most of the time.  I'm not
sure if this follows from the structure of the system, or just how
people have filled it in.