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  -- the index generator tool for the IF Archive

  • Copyright 2017-19 by the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation
  • Distributed under the MIT license
  • Created by Andrew Plotkin

This program has one core task: to look through all the files in the IF Archive, combine that with the contents of the Master-Index file, and generate all the index.html files in the indexes subdirectory.

(The Master-Index file is created by sewing together all the Index files in all the directories of the Archive. That's done by the script, also included in this repo.)


In normal Archive operation, this is invoked from the build-indexes script.

  • --index FILE: pathname of Master-Index. (Normally /var/ifarchive/htdocs/if-archive/Master-Index.)
  • --src DIR: Pathname of the directory full of HTML templates which control the appearance of the index files. (Normally /var/ifarchive/lib/ifmap.)
  • --tree DIR: Pathname of the root directory which the Archive serves. (Normally /var/ifarchive/htdocs.)
  • --v: If set, print verbose output.
  • --exclude: If set, files without index entries are excluded from index listings. (Normally not set.)
  • --dest DIR: Firectory to write index files (relative to --tree; default "indexes")
  • --meta DIR: Firectory to write metadata files (relative to --tree; default "metadata")

The --dest and --meta arguments exist only for development testing. If you use any value other than the default ("indexes", "metadata"), the generated indexes won't properly link to anything.


Type python3 to run tests on the low-level string-escaping and templating code.

For an end-to-end test, try:

python3 testdata/
python3 --src lib --index testdata/if-archive/Master-Index --tree testdata

If everything works, the generated files in testdata/indexes should match what's in the Git repository. (git status should show no changes.)

The script is needed because looks at the timestamps and writes them into the index files, but a freshly-checked-out Git repository has all new timestamps.


I wrote the first version of this program in 1999-ish. It was built around the original Index files, which were hand-written by Volker Blasius (the original Archive curator) for human consumption. Their format was not particularly convenient for parsing, but I parsed them anyway.

I wrote the original program in C because it was portable and I didn't know Python or Perl yet. C is a terrible language for this sort of thing, of course -- I started by implementing my own hash tables. And escaping strings for HTML? Yuck.

I finally ported it all to Python in July of 2017. It's now got less than half the lines of code, it's infinitely more readable, and it's faster. (Not because Python is faster, but because I added an MD5-caching feature.)

December 2018: Added SHA512 checksums to the output (and to md5-cache.txt, which is now misnamed). Updated the script to generate foo/bar/index.html indexes as well as fooXbar.html indexes.

December 2019: Renamed md5-cache.txt to checksum-cache.txt and moved it to the archive root. Simplified the arguments a bit (--dest is usually not needed). Updated everything to use the new Markdown-based Index format.


The tool that generates the index files at .


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