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Tour Part 4 — Information for Programmers

Feel free to skip over this part and get right to the fun stuff if you're not a programmer.

XWord Info provides puzzle data in two different formats, one more suitable for storage or for processing on a server, and one optimized for client-side use.

The XPF File Format

Crosswords were designed to be printed on paper but in the modern world, enthusiasts like to solve them on all manner of electronic devices. But how should the data that describes the puzzles be organized to be useful and easily shareable across platforms?

The problem is that data formats that are in wide use (Across Lite text format, for example) are insufficient to describe many modern puzzles. The don't handle features like shaded squares or special symbols or formatting in clues.

XPF is an attempt to support a broad range of crosswords in a format that, because it is based on XML, is easy for developers to use or extend for special needs. It's not perfect but it's far more flexible than Across Lite.

You can read all about it here.

The XWord Info JSON format

XPF is great for file storage or for doing data processing on a server, but to be able to use the puzzle information in a dynamic web page, you want that data in the form of a JavaScript object. JSON provides a fast and easy way to accomplish that.

You can read all about this JSON format here.

You've already seen it in action during this tour. The large grids on these tour pages are dynamic. Hover your mouse over them to see the clues for each entry. Click them to either reveal answers or see the full puzzle page. You can easily add these grids to your own blog or website. In fact, my personal blog at does just that.

if you intend to try using this JSON capability.