xword·group - help/about

xword.group is a tool for generating a Google Spreadsheet version of a crossword puzzle you have to solve, so that you can solve it with other people collaboratively. The basic usage is:

Enter the grid

Start with a crossword puzzle you want to solve. Maybe you found it online, or in a newspaper. Go to xword.group. Choose the grid size. You'll have some options and a blank grid. Click on grid cells that you want to fill with blocks. The clue numbers are automatically updated to match the layout, so you can check that you've done it right by comparing the number of clues to the original.

The options should work for a standard American or British crossword. Some variants may require you to change the options, or they may not work at all. If you have a crossword variant you want supported, please let me know.

Generate the spreadsheet

Once the grid matches the original, pick the GENERATE button at the bottom. This will create a new spreadsheet and export the grid there. A box will pop up to let you know when it's done. You will need to sign into your Google account, and allow this site to edit your files. Also allow popup windows, since that's how the signin works. You can remove this access when you're done under your Google account.

Instead of making a new spreadsheet, you can alternately add a sheet to an existing spreadsheet. To do this enter the spreadsheet's URL in the box next to GENERATE.

Once it's done, the URL of the spreadsheet will be in the box, and the open button will take you to the appropriate sheet within the spreadsheet.

Unfortunately, Google spreadsheets do not allow is background images. This makes it hard to place answer numbers in the grid itself. You can place a transparent foreground image with the numbers if you want, but this has the disadvantage that you can't click on cells in the grid anymore, because they're behind the image. If you want to do this:

  1. Click the download overlay button underneath the grid. This will download an image to your computer called overlay.png.
  2. In the spreadsheet, pick the Insert menu, then Image, and upload the file you just downloaded.
  3. Select the overlay image and position it to line up with the grid. If you hold Shift you can make fine adjustments with the arrow keys.

Add the clues to the spreadsheet

At this point you're done with xword.group. All the rest of the work is done in the spreadsheet you generated.

The clues should go in the wide column to the right of the grid. You can type them manually, or if the crossword is already online, you can copy and paste them in. I recommend pasting the clues into a separate sheet on the spreadsheet first to make sure you get the formatting and spacing right, and then from there cut and paste into the wide column. When you do this, instead of Ctrl-V to paste, use Ctrl-Shift-V, or select the menu item Edit > Paste Special > Paste Values Only. This will keep the formatting that fades out clues for completed answers.

Share the spreadsheet with others

Share as you would any other spreadsheet. Click the Share button in the upper right and add the people you want to solve with, or move the spreadsheet to a shared folder on Google Drive. Your collaborators don't need to access xword.group, just this spreadsheet.

Solve the crossword together

Basically you just enter one letter into each grid cell. Press Tab between each letter for Across answers, and Enter between each letter for Down answer. Remember if you used the overlay, you can't click on the cells, so you'll need to use the arrow keys to get around.

There are a few features of the grid that can help with solving. As you enter letters into the grid, partial answers will get filled in on the right. When a clue's entire answer is filled in, that clue will fade so you can focus on the ones that still need attention.

The links to the right of the partial answers are for "cheating". OneLook is a popular crossword site that takes both the clue and the partial answer into account. nutrimatic only looks at the partial answer, but it has a great database of potential answers. Use these if you're stuck.

You can highlight answers in the grid using the narrow column just to the left of the clue. If you put anything in this cell, like a period, the corresponding grid cells will be highlighted in yellow.


xword.group is by Christopher Night. Email me at cosmologicon@gmail.com

The source code is available on Github.