I have finally begun the last major feature of this beta round:crossword (And later, kanji 'snake') puzzles. Woo!
I whipped up something quick and dirty in pdf format that I'd love to have you take a look at. No bells and whistles, but it gets the point across.
For hiragana puzzles, I plan on having a choice between kanji and definition clues.
Kanji is pretty easy since it is so short, but I am concerned about the clue length of the definitions - as you can see, I have them truncate after a certain length. Any ideas? (that's an A4 piece of paper, by the way, although the puzzle generator will most likely allow for selection of different page sizes.)
Also - the answers will be separate. There will be an option to print them on page 2; there will also be a number code you can enter into your 'crossword' center (once it is built) to view the answers, *or* click on your list of recently downloaded papers - a link will be there as well.
Years Studied: since 2000 Studying: 自分のため、日本語教師だから
好 : 4,999
It might be useful though to have the part of speech listed - not necessarily if it's an い-adjective vs a な-adjective, but if for example you had (v) written first, you could get rid of the "to be"s in the verb listings, which would free up some characters (now that I'm typing that, it seems like a lot of work...) and it might help with clarity. It would also be useful to mention if the answers in a definition-clue puzzle are kanji or kana (I know, should be obvious, but still ;) )
I don't think the black background needs to be there for the crossword puzzle. While it looks fine, printing something like this can eat up a lot of ink.
To save space, and/or potentially add more room for clues, the "Down clues" can immediately follow the "Across clues", rather than being on a separate column. The text "Across clues" and "Down clues" can be changed to make the sections easier to find, if this is done. (Bold font? Underline?) The text size of the clues can be decreased too.
All in all, looks pretty good.
I agree about the black background. How about gray or hashmarks (something like the site background). Then you could bold the outline of the puzzle itself.
I'd suggest putting the clues on a second page. That would allow more room for wraparound text (longer clues) and for a larger puzzle. As in bigger squares for kanji puzzles or longer kana ones.
I love the idea of the crosswords. I also agree about the black background being too much but it is nice to have black squares in the places where the letters are not linked to make words. You can have the background white, so long as the outline of the squares is black. I print English crosswords like that all the time and they are fine. Adding (v), (n), etc is a great idea.
I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to wake up and see so many responses! Let me try and address everything. I will be putting up new versions as changes/improvements are implemented.
(Responding to the comments in order)
1. Type of speech can definitely be added, although that would again make it harder to put in a longer definition. Will play around with single character markers, then a key at the bottom.
For kanji puzzles, the format will be completely different (Because kanji terms are often just 2 kanji, a traditional-style crossword puzzle will not suffice. I picked up some kanji puzzle magazines to get some ideas, but many of them take more of a shiritori form, where instead of across and down clues, each clue latches onto the one before it. There *are* traditional kanji crosswords, but they are SO tightly packed that I am not sure the site is (or could be, given time restraints) smart enough to make one without taking a LOT of processing time.
2. How often - please see the bottom of the post
3. I will have the clues follow one another instead of split into two distinct rows. Thanks!
4. I can do away with the blackboxes fairly easily, although if we are to save ink, it would be best to do some kind of hashing/cross marks, or do away with them altogether.
5. It is ideally functional as well, so let me know which clues are missing (or just a couple). Keep in mind that the numbers are not supposed to be in order, so there will be gaps in each of the across/down lists.
6. The clues could be moved to a second page, but that doubles the number of pages needed to print it (I don't think most people would opt to print both on either side of the same paper - it would be a bit troublesome turning it over repeatedly), so I am a bit hesitant to do that. I haven't yet actually printed it out, so it may be that certain parts are much too large/small when actually in front of you on paper.
The puzzles can be generated automatically, but it a)takes a bit of processing power, and b)there are *often* groups of words that do not make good puzzles (more kana than ABCs, typically much shorter words, etc). So, for now, I do not see a way to allow users to say 'make a puzzle for this group of terms' and expect a consistently decent puzzle.
Furthermore, I would like to expand the renshuu pro offers, so I want to split it between free and paid users. Here are my thoughts:
Have maybe one puzzle (maybe one kana, one kanji) for each JLPT level available for free. These will be rotated out biweekly or monthly. This will also make it easy to distribute the puzzles through things like facebook and help attract users to the site.
Like pro users, free users will be able to adjust the size and/or various options with the puzzles, but the wordsets will be predetermined.
I would like to offer pro users a much, much, much larger set of puzzles to choose from, which will be rotated every few months. Maybe 30 or 40 (or even more) for each JLPT level (of however I decide to break up the groups). Even after they are rotated, any previous puzzles will most likely still be available in the archives.
I have not yet come up with a good way to display that many other than...a rather boring list of 'puzzle 1,puzzle 2, etc'. Hoping to make some kind of simple management system where you can easily mark which ones you have downloaded, completed, etc; this will make it easier to get new ones later without having to worry about repeats.
Obviously, the ideal solution is to have dynamic puzzles similar to the kanji worksheets, where you just feed it a collection of materials, but that simply isn't possible with the limitations of a puzzle. If the worksheets are all preprocessed, I can devote a lot more processing time to each puzzle so there can be hopefully be more terms with tighter, smaller puzzles.
Looks great! and thanks for the thorough explanation.
I think this will be a great way for students of any level to memorize vocabulary, and I know I'll be using this function.
I've never actually tried a Japanese crossword outside of very elementary ones ages ago so apologies if my questions are a bit too [insert euphemism for stupid]; I'm assuming that in a かな puzzle, カタカナ 「ー」 will be replaced by it's ひらがな counterpart? And that しゃ is one character?
I guess those are similar to some of the issues in the Shiritori games...
I was actually going to do every character in a separate one, but the code could be modified to group. That wouldn't be a major change, so we will see how people react to the way it is now. And yea, the dash would be equivalent to its counterpart. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules, so I am making them up as I go.
Also, I printed the test page out. I think the size of the puzzle is good in terms of actual size of the boxes for writing. I am thinking of pushing it all the way to the right (instead of center align), then I can have clues on the side and below the puzzle (think of a big, capital L on the page).
Very excited, and will make a lot of these changes this evening.
Here are the numbers that are missing from the puzzle grid. I haven't actually tried doing the puzzle though ... this is just from matching up clue numbers with a corresponding spot in the puzzle.
37, 38 and 39 are on there, but they all overlap
41 is missing
1, 4, 8, 21, 29, 40 & 46 are missing
17 and 45 are on there, but they don't go anywhere
*laughs* - ok, probably just an issue with the code. Unfortunately, this puzzle is one of a kind - I haven't yet built in a way to save puzzles, so even with the same word set, it always comes out differently. I will...add some checks in, though, it make sure it works. From the data you have provided, even a counter would be able to tell me if I had enough/not enough clues for each section.
Just posted a new file (same link as before). I should get into the habit of always submitting something when it looks terrible; it makes me feel so much better when I make even minor improvements.
1. Black swapped out for grey
2. Crossword aligned to right
3. Much, much more space for clues.
4. Across/Down follow one another
5. Font smaller
6. Longer definitions allowed.
7. Type of speeches added
8. Up to three columns of definitions. (Left column will be removed for kanji answers, and crossword puzzle enlarged)
9. Fixed the extra clues and odd numbering
I also think I figured out a way to write the results in tiny and upside down, so a super small answer grid could potentially go in the bottom right corner, although I am not sure if I can guarantee that there will be enough space for it. Will need to get really smart about how much of each definition I can allow to ensure the right amount of space is leftover. Will be tricky, but doable.
Comments on the new version? (Oh yea, title too close to the top, but I'll fix that later.
Edit: repeated download link: http://www.renshuu.org/dl/test.pdf
I just tried actually doing the crossword and I guess it might be intentional, but 12 down パスポート and 19 across パーセント cross at ー so that technically you have a box with both あ and お.
Edit: I think you were right in givig the small letters their own boxes but perhaps to get the most out of these puzzles ゃ ゅ ょ っ should be equivalent to や ゆ よ つ？ But unlike shiritori, ふぷぶ should be considered different letters?