XWord Crossword Maker

by Jim Flewker


Issue 28

Jul/Aug 87

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article



Requires Epson compatible printer


XWORD is designed to print out crossword puzzles of various sizes. It will not do the thinking for you, but it will print blank grids, puzzles, solutions, and (using a separate program) clues. The program has been designed to work with Epson-compatible printers, although it should be easy to adapt it for other 80-column and 40-column printers.

XWORD will create a grid up to 17 spaces wide by 17 deep, square or oblong in shape. An odd number of spaces must be used. Words and black squares may then be inserted on screen, and two kinds of symmetry can be used automatically when placing black squares. The grid may be printed at any stage, as a puzzle or as the solution, with answers. The separate program XCLUES prints clues in two columns for those not wishing to use a word processor. A joystick is required to move the cursor around in the grid.

The Clue Numbering is slightly different from normal crosswords. Instead of printing large boxes containing a number for each word, I opted for smaller boxes and a co-ordinate system letters along the top and numbers down the side. This enables the start of any word to be located by a code such as a1, g9, etc.


When run the program will ask you to decide the size and shape of your puzzle and its symmetry if any. The screen will blank briefly and the grid will appear a few seconds later. It is probably a good idea to print out the empty grid and use it to design your puzzle on paper. After that you could fill in black squares or place words in any order you wish.


The top screen line shows the main menu choices from which you choose. If you want to add either words or blacks, you will see that the option number is already printed for you just press return. For another choice, type the number and press return.


Add Select this to fill the grid and use the joystick to move the flashing cursor around the grid. It cannot go outside of it. On selecting Add you see various sub options and keys displayed:-

- ESCAPE will return you to the main menu (as will some errors).
- OPTION alters (or turns off) the symmetry for black spaces.

- SELECT toggles direction of word placement.
- START allows you to enter a word, which will begin at the current cursor position. Confirm that start and direction are right by pressing RETURN entering anything else returns you to the menu. The program will first check that the word fits in the grid and if so, will place it for you. Note that no other checks are made, so you can place words across blacks and existing letters.
- JOYSTICK TRIGGER fills a black square (or several, depending on symmetry). On screen, black spaces are shown as dots. You can't erase a dot but you CAN place a word over it.

Symmetry You may prefer to do without this altogether, or you can choose between two types:-

DIAGONAL symmetry which creates a puzzle like those often seen in newspapers, with each corner mirroring the one diagonally opposite. You can work on the top half of the grid and your pattern will be mirrored below.

FOUR-SQUARE symmetry in which each quarter of the total grid mirrors the others. You need only block in the top left-hand quarter of the grid. Indeed you will find that the cursor will always return to that area when you fill blacks using this symmetry.

Print You can print at any stage, with or without answers. You are then returned to the main menu.

Clues Because this is a separate program, you are asked if you have finished printing your crossword (and solution) before proceeding. (No means of storing the puzzles on disk has been provided you could add one!)

Restart Again you are asked to confirm your choice before the current creation is lost for ever.


The screen grid: in order to provide a good-sized puzzle grid on screen without scrolling, the right amount of black horizontal lines are created by setting up a new display list in page 6. The lines are simply two blank scan lines between normal text lines. The vertical lines are CHR$(124).

Storage of puzzle data: characters are merely printed on screen and, for hard copy, peeked directly from screen memory. Some conversion is needed from internal codes to ASCII and Epson equivalents before these are sent to the printer.


Printer routines: On printout the above data is interspersed with strings which contain the values of Epson graphics characters. These strings are built to the right size by the subroutine in lines 100-120, from the elements given in lines 5410-5430. You can alter those to suit your printer. More details of printer commands are given in REMs 8050-8090.


AtariLister - requires Java


X-Word Clue Maker

AtariLister - requires Java