Crossword Setter's Program Reviews
I've used all the following programs to set crosswords over the years. The crossword program that's right for you depends on your goals. The amateur will not need all the features of Crossword Compiler, where the professional may need to track clues, something Sympathy can't do. There's no one perfect so you may well need a couple to complete your task.
The software developer's reward must extend beyond the knowledge that someone has downloaded and used their program. In order for developers of specialised software (who are often hobbyists) to continue to improve their product, users should consider making the appropriate payment asked by the developer. After all, you get what you pay for.
In many years of compiling crosswords I have come across dozens of "crossword" programs. Some are a puzzle book on the screen, others are an academic exercise in grid-filling. For me, a professional crossword setter, the following must be catered for:
Crossword Compiler for Windows by Antony Lewis
This program has evolved over the years to what I believe is the best all-round crossword program for the serious setter. Grids are simple to create (a number of grid types are available) and the word lists available are extensive and up-to-date. Words can be placed automatically or progressively via a list. A grid-filling add-on is available to give the user ultimate choice of words to use. At this stage it only handles one wordlist at a time which will hopefully change in the future. There are a number of great clue-creating functions that save much time, especially for the cryptic crossword setter. One feature I like very much is the link to electronic dictionaries - no need to switch to a program and enter the word, it's all done with one click from within Crossword Compiler. Many export options are available including some for the Web. In this age where documents (including crosswords) are sent electronically rather than printed and posted, it's important to have flexible export options. The Java applet uses files generated by Crossword Compiler which allows the user to publish their crosswords easily on the Web. Finally, this program is what it is today due mainly to the author's willingness to listen to his users and implement their suggestions. You can find out more about Crossword Compiler on Antony Lewis' Web pages.
Sympathy for Windows by Ross Beresford
New review coming soon.
You can find out more about Sympathy from Ross Beresford's Web pages.
AxWord for Windows by Doug Butler
AxWord has so many features, I couldn't list them all here without blowing my allowed Webspace. You can create standard and Ximenes style crosswords using the best wordlist I've seen. The beauty of the wordlist in this program is that it can be filtered, enabling the user to switch off plurals, demand a compound or a Proper Name. This filtering can take place whilst building grids or using the Word Finder facility that offers a multitude of word search options that can help in cryptic clue creation. Some special functions available include an Acrostic Compiler, Scrabble Scorer and Cryptogram maker. As with the other authors, Doug is very responsive when it comes to fixing problems and considering new options. You can find out more from Steve Workman using E-mail.
Crossword Express for Windows and Mac by AUS-PC-SOFT
New review coming soon. Visit AUS-PC-SOFT for the latest information on this software.
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