Constructing => Software / Technical => Topic started by: lifeof on January 30, 2010, 08:32:13 PM

Title: best software available
Post by: lifeof on January 30, 2010, 08:32:13 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm considering investing in puzzle-making software to help me create traditional newspaper style crosswords to market for publication.  What's the best--Crossword Compiler, Crossdown, or something else?  (The free ones won't really work, since it's my understanding that none of them help with the fill--the one thing I want software for.) 

And if the best one is Crossword Compiler, does a person really need all the bells and whistles--ProFill or whatever it's called--for considerably more money? 

Thanks in advance for your help.

Title: Re: best software available
Post by: SJS on February 01, 2010, 06:44:48 PM
I have enjoyed using Crossfire ( (  It is not that expensive and you can certainly create pro quality puzzles with it's assistance.
Title: Re: best software available
Post by: thebitterend on February 20, 2010, 03:15:44 PM
I have been using Crossword Compiler for several years now. It is a good program. I have been using it to create puzzles for a small audience in a newsletter I compile. I just want to caution you that any computer program has limitations. CC has yet to fill one of my 21X21 grid puzzles full of thematic answers. I end up filling my grids the old fashioned way; one word at a time. It does pretty well on 15x15 with three theme answers though. No program will ever be more adaptable and clever than a good constructor. IMHO.
Title: Re: best software available
Post by: jorkel on February 20, 2010, 04:56:00 PM

I use Crossword Compiler version 7.1 professional:  it serves my construction needs well ... and I don't have the foggiest idea of what other versions of the software can or can not do.  (Personally, I think that the goodness of one's wordlist trumps the concern over which software is the best).  But, I will say this:  I recently spoke with someone who had an older version of CC, and I learned that he was not able to adjust word ranks during manual fill:  he had to write words down then edit them when he exited the filling procedure.  So, I would say it's little conveniences like this that might be sacrificed.

Also, if this is a hobby that you are simply obsessed with, then I would go with the high end.  If you're keen at generating themes -- and I mean really keen -- the puzzle sales will eventually pay off the software.  But for the most part, it's hard to break even with this hobby.

-Joe Krozel
Title: Re: best software available
Post by: peterflynn on February 23, 2010, 06:47:11 AM
Hi there,

I'll chime in with a plug. ;)  I work on Crossword Studio ( (, which is one of the newer programs to become available.  This software does not have the full laundry list of features that some other programs offer (yet!).  Instead, its goals are to be intuitive, easy to learn, and a boost to your productivity.  For example, in Crossword Studio you always see a list of words that fit into the current grid position you have highlighted, right next to the grid, since this is such a core need when creating a puzzle.  In some other programs, you have to open a separate popup window to look at this list, then close it when you're done.

At any rate -- if you think this software might be for you, I encourage you to download the free trial that's available online.

- Peter
Title: Re: best software available
Post by: pegparker1 on March 04, 2010, 07:46:14 AM
I don't understand this board very well I guess.  This post poses a most basic question which I also have.  More than 300 people have looked at it but there only a handful of replies?  Perhaps crossword constructors aren't particularly wordy.  Or perhaps somewhat proprietary about their knowledge?  ???

A couple of other questions come to mind.
1)  It looks like most publishers only accept CCW, CD or sometimes AL for submissions.  Are people using other (esp. free) software & somehow converting for sending to the editors?  Or are the freebies only used for personal use?
2)  CCW seems to be the standard.  Are the extra bells & whistles worth the money or are there better sites to use?  Is the autofill useful?

Thanks,  Peg
Title: Re: best software available
Post by: Doorbell on March 04, 2010, 12:07:04 PM
To answer some of your concerns, Peg:

-- Crossword constructors in general are very generous about sharing their knowledge.  However, most discussion takes place on the CRUCIVERB-L mailing list.  If you're interested in joining this (free) list, you can find more information by clicking on Navigate > CRUCIVERB-L in the left-hand panel.  But fewer experienced constructors visit this forum, and they are most helpful, especially by critiquing puzzles by new constructors in the Post a Puzzle forum.

-- Many of the people who visit this forum are new constructors, and perhaps aren't in the position of offering much help.

-- Requesting comparisons of different software packages is somewhat futile, because I think most constructors started off with one package years ago when there was little available, and never found any overwhelming reason to change.  Plus, nobody is paying anyone to do a detailed, feature-by-feature comparison.  :D

-- If you decide to use a software package that doesn't create one of the commonly acceptable formats, not to worry.  You can manually convert any puzzle to AcrossLite without a lot of effort. Or, easier yet, just print it out and submit by snail mail.

-- Usually, experienced constructors don't use autofill to do the complete job; they might use autofill to verify that a grid is actually fillable, but then switch to manual fill to select the most interesting words for fill.

-- Whether or not to get all the bells and whistles I think might depend on how deeply you want to get involved in construction.  Perhaps you might want to start with a vanilla version, then upgrade to a full version if you decide that you enjoy constructing, find it satisfying, and would like to continue.

Title: Re: best software available
Post by: siva_thever on April 23, 2010, 11:38:14 PM
I suggest that you try finding the free crossword making software throughout the web......that's one way or you can do that online