Qxw and Crux: Frequently Asked Questions

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What sort of grid can I construct with Qxw?

You can construct grids of any shape based on square or hexagonal cells or based on a circular design. You can use blocks or bars, or a mixture of the two, to separate words. The maximum grid dimension is 63 and the maximum length of a light is 250 characters.

What dictionary does Qxw use?

In the Linux version, if no dictionary is specified using the command-line -d option, Qxw looks for the following dictionary files and loads the first one it finds:

  • the file /usr/dict/words
  • the file /usr/share/dict/words
  • the file /usr/share/dict/british-english
  • the file /usr/share/dict/american-english

Note that on some Linux distributions, the last of these is a version of the Moby word list. This is too comprehensive for many purposes, including many strings of characters that are not obviously words at all.

The Windows version comes bundled with a copy of the UKACD (see below).

You can make Qxw use a different dictionary file using the menu system or with a command-line argument: qxw -d<filename>. The argument can be repeated if several dictionaries are to be loaded.

The filenames of the dictionaries used in constructing a crossword are saved along with the grid.

Crux’s default dictionary is the file dict in the directory from which it is run.

Where can I find alternative dictionary files?

There are many freely-available word lists to be found on the Internet. Here are a couple of places to start looking:

For licensing information see here.

Do you have a version of Qxw for DOS/Windows 3.1/95/98/Me/NT/2000/Solaris/Arduino...?

No, sorry. You may be able to run Qxw in a virtual machine.

... for Raspberry Pi, perhaps?

Qxw is in the Raspbian repository.

... how about Mac OS X?

You may be able to run Qxw in a virtual machine under Mac OS X or using Parallels.

Otherwise the answer is no, as more recent versions of Mac OS X have seen systematic reduction in support for non-native applications. If you would like to offer to help port Qxw to Mac OS X please get contact me, but be aware that it is likely to require a considerable amount of effort and expertise. Note also that is also unclear whether GPLv2 programs are compatible with the Apple App Store’s terms and conditions, and so there is a risk that any porting work may be wasted should Apple enforce a similar software distribution model for OS X in the future.

The following is largely of historical interest.

Matt Grime offers the folowing recipe for building version 20071028 from source under Mac OS X. I have not tested it, and you follow it at your own risk.

1. If not installed already, use Darwin Ports to install gtk2 (do not use jhbuild or similar):

sudo port install gtk2

2. If there are issues, remove outdated libraries with

sudo port uninstall outdated

and update all packages using

sudo port upgrade installed

following any command line instructions to link libs to the right place, and then try installing gtk2.

3. Make sure that pkgconfig is installed with

sudo port install pkgconfig

and then the source should compile cleanly.

Qxw running on Mac OS X is reported to be no more reliable than other X11 applications running on that operating system.

Why can’t I get your program to work under my distribution of Linux?

The binaries distributed are compiled for the Intel x86 architecture. These will only work on Intel and compatible (for example AMD) processors. You need reasonably up-to-date versions of GLib and GTK: try building from the source code on your own machine if that seems to be the problem. Otherwise, please contact me and I will try to help.

What is the format of Qxw’s dictionary file?

The dictionary is a plain text file, which means you can use standard text tools to create and edit dictionaries. Each line of the file should contain one word.

Qxw first assumes that the dictionary file is encoded in UTF-8 format. If when reading the file it determines that this is not the case, it tries again on the assumption that the file is encoded in ISO 8859-1 format.

Simple puncutation marks are stripped from words; ‘words’ containing other non-alphanumeric characters are ignored entirely. Accents are removed and all letters are converted to upper-case. Words may contain spaces, which are stripped.

How do I convert an EPS or SVG file into GIF or PNG format so I can publish it on a website?

Note that Qxw can export grids directly in PNG format or (square grids only) in HTML.

The easiest approach is to use Inkscape, which is available for both Linux and Windows.

Why does the HTML I have exported from Qxw not display correctly?

The HTML that Qxw produces requires that the browser support CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Some older browsers do not support CSS fully. Many browsers print pages slightly differently from the way they appear on the screen, and some early versions of Firefox are rather poor in this regard.

Earlier versions of Qxw emit HTML that refers to two small image files, qpx0.gif and qpx1.gif, which were included with Qxw. You must ensure that there are copies of these files in the same directory as the HTML file. These files are not required for HTML produced by the current version of Qxw.

If you still experience problems with the compatibility of the HTML output, please contact me with the details. In particular I shall need to know which version of which browser you are using.

How does the grid filler work?

Qxw’s grid filler and Crux work in very similar ways. The essential idea is to explore the possible fills of the grid one letter at a time, trying to solve the trickiest parts of the grid first. When a letter is hypothesised for a particular cell, the implications of that choice are worked out and propagated around the grid. This is used to determine which cell is tried next.

What do Crux’s progress messages mean?

The counts show the number of different letters tried at each search depth.

What is the format of Crux’s dictionary file?

The dictionary file should contain one word per line. Only the characters ‘A’ to ‘Z’ and ‘a’ to ‘z’ are significant; Crux is not case sensitive in the dictionary file. White space separates words. If you wish to use a dictionary that contains phrases, any spaces between the words of a phrase should be removed first.


This page most recently updated Mon 16 Jan 11:10:07 GMT 2017
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Qxw is a free (GPL) crossword construction program. Answer treatments, circular and hex grids, jumbled entries, more besides. Release 20140331 for both Linux and Windows. More...

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