Diagramless Crossword Assistant

Diagnil is a software application designed specifically for solvers of diagramless crossword puzzles. It supports the process of solving puzzles distributed in print form as well as those distributed electronically using the Across Lite, Crossword Solver, XPF and ipuz file formats. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix platforms.

Diagnil's user interface

Full-size image (Windows 7)

Full-size image (Mac OS X)

Full-size image (Linux)


Word panels showing clues

Untapped Potential

The diagramless puzzle is a crossword variant where only word clues are provided; word locations are not disclosed. (If a grid is supplied, it is completely blank.) Solving a diagramless puzzle requires not only determining the words but also where they lie on the grid.

Despite the ubiquity of standard crosswords, the diagramless variety remains much less popular. One plausible reason for this is that diagramless puzzles are viewed as overly difficult. A more likely reason is that solving is tedious when working on paper. Although the intellectual challenge of diagramless puzzles is appealing, reworking the grid layout can sap the enjoyment from what should be recreation. While brilliant solvers are undaunted, mere mortals wear out their erasers.

Diagramless for Everyone

Obviously software could help. Although software applications for conventional crosswords have existed for years, the diagramless variant has received surprisingly little attention from developers. Their tools have not embraced diagramless puzzles in any serious way. If they bother to handle diagramless at all, usually they let you do nothing more than print a puzzle or convert it to a regular crossword.

Diagnil attempts to fill this void. Its style of operation allows you to solve diagramless puzzles directly on your computer. Diagnil was designed to remove the tedium of paper-based solving, thereby making diagramless puzzles practical and enjoyable for most crossword enthusiasts. To achieve this, it departs from those other tools by being optimized for one task: it's all diagramless, all the time.

Shred Your Graph Paper

If you're already a diagramless fan, Diagnil can liberate you from graph paper. Using your keyboard and mouse, you build a puzzle solution by entering words, placing them on a grid, and moving them around the screen until the final shape is achieved.

All you need to begin are lists of word clues found in books or newspapers, or puzzle files from online sources rendered in a supported format (Across Lite, Crossword Solver, XPF and ipuz). Puzzles as large as those published in Sunday newspapers (typically up to 21 by 21) are accommodated easily.

Diagnil also can be used on regular crosswords, not just those created explicitly to be diagramless. If you're looking for a different kind of challenge, you might want to try solving regular crosswords in diagramless fashion. Although you won't get the special layouts of typical diagramless grids, you will be able to tackle puzzles with more challenging clues. This might appeal to those who find diagramless clues a little on the easy side.

Release Information

Current version:   3.0, released 5 August 2012
Requirements:   Installers for Windows and Mac OS X are fully self-contained
    (no other components are needed).
    Source code distributions require Python 2.6 or later
    (standard on Mac OS X and Linux).
Caveats:   Best with screen resolution of 1024x768 or higher.
    Mac users: Best with multi-button mouse, although Ctrl-click works fine.
Terms of use:   Open-source software, free to use and redistribute (BSD-style license).
Contact:   Ben Di Vito <bdivito@cox.net>

Feedback Welcome

Experience reports and comments from users are welcome. It's helpful to hear about any difficulties encountered either when installing the software or while using it for puzzle solving. Positive reports are welcome, too. Let me know if Diagnil meets its objective of enabling you to become a regular solver of diagramless puzzles.