Somebody once remarked that the nice thing about crosswords is that you know there is a solution and they have developed a cult following all of their own. Have you ever tried your hand at creating your own version of the New York Times Crossword? I didn’t – till I came across EclipseCrossword.
The free downloadable software from EclipseCrossword offers a fast and neat way to design your own crossword puzzle with words of your choice.
Why would I want to design my own crossword Puzzles?
Yes, most of the fun is in solving one rather than in the tedium of designing one. But if every fifth person can speak Chinese, I daresay every fourth person probably is a crossword buff. The site itself gives us a lot of ideas to play around regarding the possibilities of the crossword. From adding value to your website to a tool of teaching, from adding it to a draggy newsletter to using it as a time killer, the uses are limited by creativity alone. I picked it up and am now using it to polish my niece’s science facts.
So, how do I make my first crossword puzzle?
The free EclipseCrossword software is a Windows only download. The interface is clean without any ad-ware to blotch it up. On the first run, the software offers a tutorial but you can skip that and head straight into the software itself, because the interface isn’t a puzzle at all.
As a first time user, select I would like to start a new crossword in the first screen.
Step 1 ““ Create or select a word list
A word list is the building block of your crossword. These are the answers we pencil down (the more confident pen it down!) in the little white squares. You can select the option to start from scratch or used a predefined word list saved in the proprietary EWL format.
Step 2 & 3 ““ Create or Modify a word list
A bit of scratching the head is required as we populate our word list and also assign the clues to solve them. A minimum two words are required.
Step 4 ““ Name this crossword
An optional step, but it just makes the final appearance a bit neater with the name of our created work at the top along with the copyright information.
Step 5 ““ Define the crossword size
We can play with anything between a 5 by 5 grid to a 120 by 120 one. The “˜suggested’ values are usually the ones to go by.
Step 6 ““ Finished crossword
Here we get a look at our wordplay. Preview it, move it around with the mouse or create another one in the same pattern.
Step 7 ““ Save or Print this crossword
The final dress-up. We get four alternatives in four tabs to do the job.
Save the crossword or the word list.
Print the crossword with the options given.
Publish the crossword in supported formats like RTF (Rich Text Format) for the clues, WMF (Windows Meta file) and/or EPS (Postscript) for the crossword grid. We can also export the puzzle in Across Lite format, which can be read by a variety of crossword software.
That’s it! With a click on the Close button, wordplay begins.
What’s the final score on EclipseCrossword?
EclipseCrossword is as straightforward as software can come. The wizard style step by step interface is a breeze and the start to finish takes mere minutes (creating the word list is the only step where we break a bit of sweat).
The finished crossword is printable and presentable in a number of formats and is also interactive in a browser. What I really liked about the program was that it has all the bearings of a professionally made software with hardly a rough edge. A quick download and you have entertainment for free.
EclipseSoftware v1.2 is a Windows only download.
If you are a crossword zealot then this is for you. Use it design your own crossword puzzles and let us know if you could match the down with the across.