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  #1  
Old 09-14-2008, 04:53 AM
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Default New puzzle format - looking for feedback

Hi folks -

Some of the most common feedback I've gotten over the past year has been related to the functionality of the playing board. Common complaints have been:

1. Letters don't auto-fill immediately - they only do so once you've moved to another box.

2. Its annoying having to tab or mouse-click to the next open box on the board.

Both are valid criticisms, and I've started work on a new playing board that will address these concerns, and incorporate some other ideas I've come across either from user feedback or from my experience working with Jason on the iPhone Cryptograms application.

My first pass at this new playing board is now ready for testing, and I welcome all Cryptograms.org users to give it a try and send in their feedback. There are four basic areas of new or improved functionality:
  1. All boxes of the same letter are automatically highlighted based on the box you're currently focused on, to help show letter distribution throughout the puzzle.
  2. All letters update immediately once a letter is entered in the box, instead of after you've moved off the box.
  3. The cursor will automatically move to the next open box on the game board without the need to tab or mouse-click, and will highlight the appropriate companion boxes.
  4. Letter frequencies are displayed directly underneath each letter for easier pattern recognition.
You can try out the new board at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php

Note that these puzzles can not be submitted, and they will not count against your personal scorecards as attempted/missed puzzles. Feel free to load and reload a number of puzzles, and try to solve them as you would any other cryptogram. I'd love to hear your feedback on the new functionality, whether you think its helpful or confusing, or if you have any other ideas that can be implemented. Feel free to post your comments to this thread.

Thanks!

- Stephen

PS: If you experience any bugs or problems please be sure to include both your operating system (Windows, Mac, etc.) and your browser (Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox, Safari, etc.) with your feedback/comment. That part is crucial - thanks!
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:27 PM
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Made a few changes this morning to the new format:

1. There is now a running tally, below the playing board, that tells you which letters have yet to be played in the puzzle. This tally will automatically update every time a letter is added or removed from the puzzle.

2. You no longer have to backspace or delete a letter that's already on the board if you feel you've made a mistake. Simply click in the box and type your new letter - it will automatically replace what's already in there.

Again, the new board is at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php

Cheers -

- Stephen
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  #3  
Old 09-14-2008, 11:48 PM
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Woohoo!! Looking good.
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:06 AM
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Default Love It

I agree with the comments in the chat room that it will take some getting used to - mostly looking at numbers at the same time as letters. It took me a little longer to focus on the pattern. But after I got used to it - unbelievable! I can't wait until it's ready for prime time!!!!

The only change I would make is that if I hit shift-tab to go backwards, that it let me land on the letters already filled in. Sometimes it's faster to go backwards than forwards. )

Last edited by flutefish : 09-15-2008 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:11 PM
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There was a comment in the chat room that I noticed that I agree with after playing more with the new format. I'd rather not have the letter frequencies under the letters, just to the side. It's too much of a distraction, and makes it harder to see the patterns. And it doesn't add any value, at least not for me. I always look at the side box anyways to see the letter frequencies.
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  #6  
Old 09-16-2008, 05:25 AM
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Hi folks -

Thanks for the feedback!

I've made a number of changes to the new playing board tonight based on your comments:

1. The box where your cursor is currently focused will now be a slightly different color than all its companion boxes, and will have a solid border instead of a dotted one. (In response to complaints that it was difficult to tell where the cursor was sometimes).

2. Letter frequencies can now be turned off by clicking the option below the puzzle. (This will eventually be an option field in everyone's user profile, which you can set to either "on" or "off" and the site will remember your preference each time a puzzle is loaded).

3. Automatic cursor advancement can be toggled on and off via the second option. It seems that automatic cursor advancement to the next open box is most useful only after a certain percentage of the puzzle is filled in - and until that point it can be rather cumbersome when you're trying to shift-tab to go backwards, etc. So users can now opt to turn it on or off as they desire, and again, this will be a user profile field that can be set and remembered by the system. (I imagine most folks would want to set it to "off" so that it is initially not enabled, and then manually set it to "on" once they've gotten enough of the puzzle filled in that they just want to quickly type in the rest of the answers).

Feel free to test out the latest version at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php

As always I appreciate your feedback and comments!

- Stephen
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  #7  
Old 09-18-2008, 06:23 PM
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Automatic cursor advancement is cool, but it also advances the cursor when I press delete, backspace or space. I would like to have the option to clear a cell and remain in that cell. Can it be changed to advance only if input is 'a' to 'z'?

Also: If I tab or shift-tab into a cell that is already filled, it automatically advances out of it. It stays there only when I click with the mouse. The auto advancement logic needs to be tweaked a bit.

Last edited by greenjelly : 09-18-2008 at 06:26 PM.
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  #8  
Old 09-19-2008, 02:26 AM
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Talking Smarta** literal interpretation of this thread

Stephen if you're looking for feedback, check out Hendrix doing the National Anthem at Woodstock. http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...em&vt=lf&hl=en



But, seriously, I think everyone else has covered the ups and downs of the new format, especially greenjelly.
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  #9  
Old 09-27-2008, 08:12 PM
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Hi everyone -

Thanks again for all your feedback! I've made the new playing board live just a few moments ago. I did my best to incorporate everyone's comments and suggestions, but please don't hesitate to add more if you notice any bugs or potential problems.

Note that you can set your permanent playing preferences (as a registered used) by clicking this link:

http://www.cryptograms.org/forum/pro...le#preferences

There you can set your preferences on:

1. Allowing or disallowing potentially offensive quotes from displaying.

2. Having letter frequencies displayed below each letter on the playing board.

3. Having the cursor automatically move to the next open square. (Note - users with older/slower computers may want to disable this option if it moves too slowly for you. Unfortunately there isn't much I can do to avoid that at the moment. It does perform better in Firefox than in Internet Explorer, though if you're on a modern, relatively fast computer you should have no problems.)

Please let me know if you have any questions -

- Stephen
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  #10  
Old 09-27-2008, 08:21 PM
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I should add, as this is an important new change -

Do NOT use your browser's BACK button.

Especially when you've checked a puzzle and its incorrect. If you have an error in your puzzle, the program will give you a link to click to go back and fix it. BE SURE TO USE THIS LINK AND NOT YOUR BACK BUTTON! Doing so may make it impossible for you to resubmit the puzzle, as the new playing board automatically disables the submit button on the first click. Simply click the link provided instead and you will be returned to your puzzle, with all your previous letters properly saved just as you had entered them.
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