Even a diehard faultfinder won’t find fault with the fact that when you solve crossword puzzles, it’s both fun and educational. I certainly went for these two great qualities of crossword puzzles when I looked at a method on designing our own crossword puzzles.
We talked about the crossword software called Eclipse Crossword in that post. The comments supported the value of crosswords as easy and fun educational tools. It was only later that I came across what is considered to be one of the most popular crossword software going around.
Across Lite is a little free software that you can use to create, publish, and solve crossword puzzles on your PC. Let’s take a look at why this 996KB download is favored by the likes of The New York Times, Washington Post, and others for their downloadable puzzles.
Across Lite to Solve Crossword Puzzles
Across Lite may be a digital tool but the first look retains some of the black and white appeal from the newspaper. The crossword software opens up with a few choices of sample crosswords. Open one up and see how it looks:
Just for a bout of egotism, you can switch on the timer. To bring more of the old newspaper appeal, you can toggle the Pencil icon (again, if you aren’t sure of the answer). Entering letters is easy as selecting a square and pressing a key. You can navigate the Across or Down squares with the mouse or the Tab key. You can also keep score if you fancy yourself across and down the squares.
If your ego starts taking a beating, you can check your answers or choose to take a few hints, or completely reveal the answers with a button press.
Across Lite is user friendly for the crossword buff as it comes quite close to digitally replicating the newspaper feel (notice the hand cursor). Inserting, erasing, and viewing answers are easier than on a newspaper.
Am I Limited To The Sample Puzzles?
Across Lite’s puzzle format (.puz) is one of the most widely used on the web. That makes Across Lite ideal software for downloading and using .puz files from a myriad of sources. NY Times asks for a premium membership to access their database of puzzles. But they do regularly release a few sample puzzles for download with Across Lite.
Community forums like Cruciverb have a puzzle database that’s worth a tap. Papers like make their crossword puzzles available for download a few weeks after they appear in print. I got all this information from a simple but informative page maintained by Will Johnston.
Another great resource is Crossword Puzzles by Ray Hamel. Check out the Software page for a great list of crossword tools.
But Now I Want To Create Crosswords Of My Own
A true blue cruciverbalist will not be happy with mere solving. He needs to create too. Crossword constructors send their puzzles to newspapers for publication. Then there is the value of crosswords as a teaching tool. Like promoting some ESL learning on your personal blog or website, or even as a downloadable .puz file.
Across Lite can create crossword puzzles, but it’s not a one button process. The detailed steps are explained in the downloadable PDF file and also the program’s Help. The gist of it is that you create your crossword clues in a text file following strict syntax rules. The text file is then opened and saved using Across Lite in the default .puz format. You can also print it out.
Using the syntax route is a bit time consuming, especially when you have quicker online and offline crossword applications available.
Across Lite is available as a download for both Windows and Mac OS X. A Windows Mobile version is available for purchase.
Across Lite is a nice and free solution to ditch my Sunday newspaper crossword and curl up with the laptop and a teapot. What do you think?
Image Credit: duna12
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