TADS Overview: TADS 2 vs TADS 3

There are two major versions of TADS currently in circulation: TADS 2 and TADS 3.

TADS 3 is the current generation of the system, originally released in 2006. It was built from the ground up as a brand new system, designed to provide a modern, robust programming environment. TADS 3 builds on what we learned from past versions, and greatly expands the richness of the "world model" that serves as the foundation of each game.

TADS 2 is the older generation. It's been around since the early 1990s, and was steadily expanded and improved until TADS 3 came out. TADS 2 has been used to create about two hundred publicly released games, so you can feel confident that the system is capable of seeing a real-world game project through to a finished work. We're still supporting TADS 2 in terms of bug fixes and ports, but we're not adding new features at this point, since our ongoing feature development work is focused on TADS 3 now. On the bright side, this means it's stable and unlikely to have incompatible changes in the future.

TADS 3 is considerably different from TADS 2, and doesn't provide an upgrade path for projects started with TADS 2. We chose to sacrifice compatibility so that the new system wasn't limited by the older design, so we could apply entirely new techniques wherever there was a better way. As a result, you'll have to choose a version at the outset of a project; once a project is under way, there's no practical way to change versions, short of starting over.

Since TADS 3 is the current system, and is the much more powerful of the two, it's the one that you'll probably want to look at first. But you might look at it and still decide to use TADS 2, since it's a simpler system to learn and use. TADS 2 will continue to be available indefinitely, and is considered very stable, so you don't have to worry that TADS 2 will become obsolete just because there's a TADS 3.

Note that most of the pages here on tads.org pertain to TADS 3. This overview section in particular mentions a lot of advanced features that are only available in TADS 3. For more details, see:

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