Automatic publication of interactive crossword puzzles
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A crossword puzzle maker software application provides a “Publish” button that submits an interactive crossword puzzle to a predetermined web server that is preconfigured to be a puzzle host shared by many otherwise unrelated users of the crossword puzzle maker application. It does this in a single click without requiring the user to provide website or upload information. The interactive crossword puzzle provides a “Submit” button that when clicked reports a personally identifiable solving attempt to the puzzle host. A puzzle host that accepts interactive crossword puzzles from the maker application and serves these interactive crossword puzzles to web browsers, and also accepts puzzle solving attempts and scores the attempts and prepares a report for the user of the crossword puzzle maker application.

Rehm, Peter H. (Orem, UT, US)
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Peter H Rehm (Orem, UT, US)
I claim:

1. A method of publishing an interactive crossword puzzle comprising the steps of: a. pressing a “publish” button on a crossword puzzle maker, and responsive to the pressing of said publish button, said crossword puzzle maker sending a puzzle specification over a computer network to a puzzle host; b. said puzzle host accepting said puzzle specification and making an interactive crossword puzzle prepared according to said puzzle specification available at a URL web address.

2. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising the step of said crossword puzzle maker launching a web browser and pointing said web browser to said URL web address, effectively displaying said interactive crossword puzzle as a published puzzle responsive to said step of pressing a “publish” button.

3. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising the steps of providing an “Email link” button and responsive to said “Email link” button, emailing said URL web address to at least one recipient.

4. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising the step of providing a “Submit” button with said interactive crossword puzzle, and responsive to the pressing of said submit button, reporting to said puzzle host the puzzle solver's solution.

5. The method of claim 4 additionally comprising the steps of reporting to said puzzle host the number of times a “check” button was pressed.

6. The method of claim 4 additionally comprising the steps of reporting to said puzzle host how long the puzzle solver was working on the puzzle.

7. The method of claim 4 additionally comprising the steps of said puzzle host accepting a plurality of submissions of puzzle solving attempts and automatically grading each puzzle solving attempt that was submitted and said puzzle host preparing a report of all puzzle solving attempts.

8. The method of claim 7 additionally comprising the step of determining the identity of each person that is submitting a puzzle solving attempt and grouping multiple puzzle solving attempts of the same person into an overall grade and reporting the overall grade.

9. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising the steps of providing a “Manage Published Puzzles” window having buttons to delete published puzzles and view published puzzles, and responsive to said button to delete published puzzles said puzzle host deleting the appropriate interactive crossword puzzle and responsive to said button to view published puzzles pointing a web browser to the URL web address of the appropriate interactive crossword puzzle.

10. A downloadable software program that performs the steps of: a. helping a user create an interactive crossword puzzle; b. sending the interactive crossword puzzle over a computer network to a predetermined puzzle host, from which the interactive crossword puzzles is accessible over the computer network.

11. A puzzle host, said puzzle host comprising a web server that performs the steps of: a. accepting puzzle specification submissions for interactive crossword puzzles over a computer network from preconfigured puzzle making software applications and making said interactive crossword puzzles available on a predetermined website; b. serving interactive crossword puzzles obtained from said submissions over said computer network to requesting web browsers.

12. The puzzle host of claim 11 wherein it additionally performs the steps of accepting puzzle solution attempts from web browsers and scoring the puzzle solution attempts and reporting the puzzle solution attempts.



Crossword puzzles have been a favorite pastime and teaching tool for almost a century. With the advent of computers, and particularly the Internet, interactive crossword puzzles that can be solved on the computer's screen became a reality.

Now software exists that helps make crossword puzzles for both paper and interactive web use. However, even though people may have been solving or even making crossword puzzles for decades, the creation and publication of interactive crossword puzzles is still out of reach for many of them.


It is an object of the invention to make it easy to create and publish interactive crossword puzzles online, even for crossword puzzle aficionados who have no website on which to publish or who don't have the technical skills required to connect applet code, puzzle specifications and html files, or to upload these files to a server.

It is also an object to make it easy to for a teacher or contest creator to score multiple attempts at solving the interactive crossword puzzles they created.

The current invention fulfills these objectives by providing a button on a crossword puzzle creation application that can publish an interactive crossword puzzle in as little as a single click. The person using the program does not need to have a website and does not need to be aware of server FTP sites, IP addresses, file paths, permissions, passwords, etc.

The current invention provides that a website be shared by many people for the publication of interactive crossword puzzles. This website's domain name is accessible to a crossword puzzle creation application, which handles all the complexities of connecting html files, in-browser crossword puzzle solving applet files, and puzzle specification files. It also handles the complexities of communicating the interactive crossword puzzle to the puzzle host, which hosts the shared website.

When a person has attempted to solve a crossword puzzle, they may press a submit button that submits information about the solving attempt to a predetermined server. The server gathers such submissions from many solvers, scores the solving attempts and prepares a report for the person who created the interactive crossword puzzle.


FIG. 1 shows the main window of a computer application for making crossword puzzles. The text that is too small to read is not required to understand the invention.

FIGS. 2-3 and 5-9 show various child windows of the main window.

FIG. 4 shows a web browser with an interactive crossword puzzle that was created and called up using the invention.


FIG. 1 shows a computer application main window for a crossword puzzle maker 10. It provides various functions pertaining to computerized construction of crossword puzzles. It includes an area 12 for a user of the invention (frequently a teacher) to provide answer words and clues, a “Make Puzzle” button 14, and a preview area 16 to preview the puzzle after the computer has made (or constructed) it. For clarity, The user of the invention who is a puzzle maker will be referred to as the “teacher” even though the invention is useful to more than just teachers.

It also provides a “Play” button 18 for playing or solving the crossword puzzle interactively as a test locally, prior to publication. This is an optional step the teacher may wish to take.

After the puzzle is ready, the teacher clicks the “Publish” button 20, which sends a puzzle specification to a preconfigured puzzle host on a computer network. The Internet, an intranet, successors to the Internet all qualify as computer networks if they are accessible to both the teacher and students, or puzzle makers and puzzle solvers. The puzzle host is a server computer that has been preconfigured to accept and serve puzzles according to the current invention.

FIG. 2 shows the “Publishing Puzzle” window 30 that may optionally come up as the puzzle is being published. At first, it displays the “Sending Puzzle . . . ” message 32. After the puzzle host has accepted the puzzle specification, the window 30 displays the acceptance 34 and also displays the address 36 of the puzzle. For the Internet, this will be the now familiar uniform resource location (URL).

The teacher now can press the “Close” button 38. However, the teacher may want to see the puzzle in a web browser, in which case the “Close & Show Puzzle in Browser” button 40 is the more appropriate choice. This button closes the “Publishing Puzzle” window 30 and opens a web browser pointed to the address 36 of the puzzle.

By checking the “Do this automatically from now on” checkbox 42, the teacher can specify that future successful publish operation should automatically result in the puzzle being displayed in a web browser with no other buttons to press. This means the application software has a true single-click publish feature activated via the “Publish” button 20.

In the event the teacher presses the “Publish” button 20 again without changing the title of the puzzle, a confirmation window 48 will pop up.

On the puzzle host computer, a Post Puzzle program listens for puzzle posts. It checks to see if the teacher is authorized and has a current account (e.g., is paid up). It also checks to see if the puzzle already exists. It communicates back to the application that the puzzle is posted, or that a puzzle with that name already exists, or that the account has a problem. If the puzzle name is already in use, it continues to listen for a response that the existing puzzle should be replaced.

FIG. 4 shows the resulting web browser 50 displaying an interactive crossword puzzle 52. It contains everything required to view the clues 54 and type the puzzle solver's answers into the grid 56. It also displays optional items 58 such as the puzzle title, puzzle author or teacher name, date and time the puzzle was made, etc.

Some teachers or puzzle solvers may wish to keep track of how long it takes to solve the crossword puzzle. Thus, when time is an issue, the interactive crossword puzzle optionally includes a timer 60 that helps the puzzle solver know how they are doing.

The interactive crossword puzzle 52 shown in the web browser 50 can optionally include various buttons. The optional “Check” button 62 will highlight all errors in red without giving away the real solution.

The optional “Submit” button 64 sends the puzzle solver's solution to the teacher. Preferably, it also sends a time stamp of when the solving attempt was made, how long it took (the timer 60), how often the “Check” button 62 was used and how many letters or words were shown to be incorrect. The invention provides for additional optional buttons that are not shown here; any use of those buttons should be sent as well. The submit button may be augmented with a “name” field that lets the puzzle solver type his or her name, which also is sent to the teacher via the puzzle host or another server. This name field can be placed next to the submit button or it can pop up after the submit button is pressed. In the latter case, the puzzle solver types in his name to complete the submission.

FIG. 5 shows a “Manage Published Puzzles” window 66, which is available from the crossword puzzle maker 10. To display this window, the application queries the host and displays a list 68 of all the user's (teacher's) puzzles that have been published. The “Delete” button 70 removes the puzzle from the host. The “View Puzzle” button 72 opens the puzzle up in a web browser. The “Email Link” button 74 lets the teacher email a link to the puzzle to one or more recipients. The “Copy Link” button puts the puzzles address on the computer's clipboard so that it can be pasted into any other application. The address is also known as the “web address,” URL or link.

FIG. 6 shows the “Interactive Puzzle Preferences” window 80, which has four tabs 82. FIG. 6 has the first tab selected, so it displays various appearance options that let the teacher choose colors and other matters of size and design. This is useful for matching the color schemes of existing web sites. The “Defaults” button fills all choices on a tab's page with the default choices. The “Save Preferences” button 86 lets the teacher make any changes permanent on a tab by tab basis.

FIG. 7 shows the Options tab and its associated page of preferences. This page includes options on whether to include a timer 60 and the “Check” button 62. It offers several other buttons. The “Reveal Letter” button, when provided, fills in whatever letter is highlighted on the grid 56. The “Reveal Word” button, when provided, does the same for whatever word is highlighted on the grid 56. The “Solve” button, when provided, fills in the entire solution all at once. The “Submit” button provides a way for the puzzle solver to submit the solution to the teacher.

FIG. 8 shows the Applet Size tab. This let the teacher choose the applet size in the browser. It also provides a way of specifying the size of the text.

FIG. 9 shows the Preload tab, which provides a way of specifying whether the title and date will be shown and what the puzzle author's name should be.

The invention additionally provides for the teacher to receive reports based on the puzzle solving attempts that were submitted by one or more puzzle solvers. As the puzzle host receives submissions, it grades them according to predetermined criteria.

These predetermined criteria include the number of answer words that are correct (or incorrect), the number of times the “Check” button was used and how many letters or words were shown to be wrong, the number of times the “Reveal Letter,” “Reveal Word” and “Solve” buttons were used (if provided), and the clock time used.

One way of providing a raw score is to start with the number of words that were correct upon submission. Subtract one for each word that was revealed by the “Reveal Word” button. Subtract a fraction of a word for each letter revealed. For example, if two letters of a seven-letter word were revealed, subtract two-sevenths ( 2/7).

For each use of the “Check” button, subtract half of the “reveal letter” amount for each letter that was shown to be incorrect, but never subtract more that the “reveal letter” amount for any one letter. Thus, if two letters of a seven letter word were shown to be wrong, but they were not revealed, then subtract one-seventh ( 1/7).

Ties in the scores of several persons can be broken by the time used. This can be just the order in which tied scored are sorted, without actually changing the scores.

The raw scores can also be scaled so that a perfect score is represented by 100. If one person's results for several puzzles are to be reported together then the raw scores should be added before the scaling is done, so that complex puzzles carry more weight.

All of these data are reported in a table that can either be emailed to the teacher at a predetermined time, or the table can be provided on a dynamic web page that is accessible to the teacher at any time.

The individual puzzle solvers can be identified in any of several ways: 1. The Submit buttons can be augmented with a text entry field that is asking for the puzzle solver's name. 2. The puzzle solver can be required to log in prior to solving, and the account name serves as the identification. 3. The IP address or a cookie serves to identify the computer used to solve the puzzle. The first of these (the name field) is the most preferred.

Although specific embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, these are illustrative only and are not limiting to the scope of the invention. The invention is limited only by the scope of the following claims.