Gonzo blogging from the Annie Leibovitz of the software development world.

Day: January 29, 2001

Okay, so the news post that says Monday below is really from Sunday. Just ignore my rantings and chalk them up to a programmer gone mad. In any case, I’d like to pose a question to you out there in Sims land. SIFBuilder 1.0 is out and might be a useful tool but could it be more useful? One of the things that immediately popped up on my ICQ list was someone wanting to do a German version. That rocks and I’d love to support it. So I was considering releasing the program under the GNU General Public License (in other words, releasing the source code so you could do whatever you want with it including translating it). This does raise a couple of quesitons though. First, I was thinking it might be nice to allow you to pick an IFF file to create a SIF for, and the SIFBuilder would automatically read the IFF to get the name and description for you (it seems silly to me now that you should have to type it in twice). If I added this functionality, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to release the source code (it would mean having to release some of Maxis’ source code and I’m not in a position to do that). So do you want to see that functionality added at the cost of not having the source code to the program? I know this doesn’t mean much to the average user, but someone might want to see how the program is put together (trust me though, it’s a VERY basic program reading the input and spitting out a text file so there’s no magic here). Also the question of releasing the source opens up the issue of having a few derivitave versions out there. The purpose of establishing a standard SIF file format is so they’re all the same and anyone can build a program to read them (say in Perl for displaying on a website, hint, hint). Having variations out there doesn’t help this cause.

On a side note, I noticed that Sim-Heaven has released their own SIF program called SIFPro Suite. I took a look at the output and it really deviates from the standard that we were trying to propose here. I’m not knocking the program as it’s useful, but like I said, the whole point of having the SIF files is not to just inform but to inform in a consistent manner. It’s like having those dang MS tags in HTML that only Internet Explorer can recognize. Oh well. You can check out the SIFPro Suite program here.

Well, it doesn’t rain it pours. Here I was getting something special ready to go up on the site, and my setup program just bombed in a big way. Fine, I’ll send it out via a ZIP file until I can get that worked out. Then of course, blogger, my news service, is down for database updates. So now I’m doing this post manually. Argh.

In any case, here it is. A simple utility called SIFBuilder. It creates a SIF file based on the format that has been discussed in the forums and proposed. A SIF file is just a simple text file (Sims Information File) that describes an object. You, as an object creator, has the choice of whether or not to include in into your ZIP file of your object. There’s no obligation of course, but it’s a nice, easy way to provide information about your object instead of the plain old single IFF file inside a ZIP. The SIFBuilder just allows you to create the file by filling in a few things (click on the image below to see a screenshot). It then just builds the text file for you and you can include this in your ZIP file along with your object. It’s a simple utility as I said so this isn’t rocket science. I welcome your feedback on the program and look forward to seeing new objects out there with SIF files attached to them!

Note: Until I get the install program created and the software page updated, just download the file here.