Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #4: Features
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 28, 2004

What improvements would you like to see in the software here?
#2: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 28, 2004
I've got a pretty long list. Here's some.

The new forum stuff is still pretty far short of where I want it to be. Improvements I want include:

- Keep track of which comments users have already seen
so it is easy for them to find new comments.

- If you have solved a puzzle, "hints" and "spoilers"
should not be suppressed in the discussion item for
that puzzle.

- "Next item" links on the item pages.

The puzzle editing environment has fallen behind the puzzle
solving environment. You can't, for example, click and drag to paint a whole set of squares. Obviously I've been concentrating my efforts on the play environment, which more users use, but the creation environment is important too, if I want more users to start creating puzzles.

I've thought of doing a Java puzzle solving program and giving users a choice of using the Java or Javascript tools. Doing this is Java would actually be way easier than doing it in Javascript.

At some point I plan to do a books page, with links to paint-by-number puzzle books available at Amazon. That might earn me, say, eight cents a year. But it'd be a less offensive way to make a little money off the site than putting ads on it all the pages.
#3: Jan Wolter (jan) on Nov 1, 2004
Well, I implemented all the improvements to forums suggested in the previous message.
#4: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
You wrote some time ago - in another topic - that you keep the puzzles as pictures.
It would be nice to have a picture view (real size with or w/o zoom) of the puzzle once it has been solved.
#5: Jan Wolter (jan) on May 10, 2005
Well, I don't literally store them as gif images. I could probably figure out a way to generate a png image from them and display them as little tiny thumbnail images, but it wouldn't exactly be easy. It'd be fairly easy to display them at the current scale, but without grid lines.
#6: Mark Conger (aruba) on May 16, 2005
That would be a nice little reward for finding a solution.
When the player saves the correct solution, instead of displaying the same board, just display the completed image, without the grid lines.
#7: Mark Conger (aruba) on Jun 6, 2005
The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of displaying the completed picture, without grid lines and with white blocks where the dots go, as a reward for finishing the puzzle. I bet a lot of puzzles look really good that way.
#8: Mark Conger (aruba) on Dec 18, 2005
Now that the site has gone big-time with its own domain name, I think the home page should have a colorful logo to make it look more exciting. Or maybe the sample puzzle should be in color.
#9: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 19, 2005
I'm not really a very good graphics designer. When building web sites for clients, I usually just work on teams with folks that are really experts at that kind of thing. I'm just good enough not to entirely screw up a good design. When left to do my own design, I tend to keep it simple.

My original concept for the design here was to stick to mostly black-and-white, in a kind of homage to the pencil-and-paper version of the puzzle. Not wildly imaginative. I could use a better idea, but don't really have one.

One thing I'd like to do is use some button images in the side-bar menu, instead of just clickable text. But I'm not very good at making buttons (see the "Revert" button on the puzzle solving page for a typical example). Speaking of the puzzle solving page, the controls on those pages really need some cleaning up. There is just a mess of buttons and pulldowns and things. Functional, but not very attractive.
#10: Mark Conger (aruba) on Dec 19, 2005
You can download tons of button backgrounds on the web, and then put text on top of them.
#11: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
I started to use Mozilla Firefox, in addition to my other IE based browser. I noticed that you have to check the "Disable or replace context menus" in the "Advanced..." tab of the "Enable Javascript" option. Otherwise, right click will also bring a popup menu.
#12: Ella Rose (ella_rose189) on Jun 4, 2006
It would be great if there was some way to make the clues clickable so you could mark off the sets of numbers after you complete them. It helps a lot in the bigger puzzles and also the colored ones, since it's easy to lose track of which clues you have left to solve for, especially with different colors when there isn't necessarily a dot after a set.
#13: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jun 5, 2006
I agree. That would be a great feature, and not really hard to implement - well, I'll need to double the number of number images stored on the site, from around 1800 to 3600, but the amount of additional Javascript would be modest. There's quite a long list of improvements I'd like to make here, but I'm not sure when I'll get to making the next round. I'm currently under some pressure to do stuff that earns income.
#14: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 21, 2006
Several people had requested the feature Ella Rose mentioned in #11 - making clues clickable to mark off sets of numbers you have completed, so I did it.

I'm not entirely satisfied with how I did it though. I think the grey background makes the numbers harder to read, and I think you still want to be able to read the numbers even if you are done with them. Possibly having them go reverse-video, with white numbers on black, red, green or blue backgrounds, would be a better choice. That might also be helpful when you are trying to decide if a "1" clue is blue or green.

Also you have to click each individual number, you can't click and drag to grey out a whole set of numbers. That would be quite a bit more work to implement, but it might be worth it.

I never really use this, so I'd be interested in feedback from people.
#15: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 21, 2006
Also, it might be nice if the grey state of the clue numbers were saved with the game, so they would still be there when you reloaded them. That's not entirely easy though.
#16: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Oct 22, 2006
It`s easy to read the grey`d-out numbers on my computer. Actually I think it`s perfect. Now it`s a whole lot easyer for me to solve online. Thank you very much. :-)) And I don`t think you need to make "saving the grey" as first priority.

:-)
#17: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 23, 2006
Well, I found this feature extremely helpful when solving punchy sue's latest puzzle (#551, "The Whopper"). I think without it my eyes would have fallen out of my head before I finished that thing. But I do find I want the marks to be saved with the puzzle.
#18: Mark Conger (aruba) on Oct 25, 2006
I agree - there's nothing more frustrating than spending a long time on something, like greying out clues, only to have them wiped away.
#19: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 25, 2006
I think I've seen sites where the clues grey out automatically as you fill in the puzzle. It might be nice to offer that as an option, with an on-off checkbox like there is for the redballs. That'd take a bit more programming though and would add to the amount of processing that needs to be done on each click, slowing things down more.
#20: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Jan 4, 2007
One of the things on my wish list was, that the grey state of the clue numbers will be saved with the game. ( #15 )After solving several big, difficult puzzles on/off, I`ve changed my mind since #16. Sorry for not telling BEFORE X-mas ;o)
#21: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Jan 4, 2007
Every time I enter [Forum] and choose [View all topics] I have to do a lot of scrolling to see the latest puzzles. More puzzles means more scrolling.... How about turning the list upside down?
#22: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Jan 4, 2007
Oops... Sorry. Found out that pressing "id" solved my problem. Sorry.. How could I forget that it`s a sharply intelligent programmer who created this site.
#23: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jan 4, 2007
But maybe the default order of the forum topics should be by reverse id sort.

Telling before X-Mas would have done no good at all. When the kids are out of school, my free time vanishes almost completely. I have more time to work on this site on weeks when I'm "working".
#24: Gitte Olesen (granny40) on Jan 9, 2007
Features I could'a used many times , in Create Puzzles, are : UNDO and REDO.
I`m sure, that You and marso (and other creaters) will find it pretty usefull too.
#25: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jan 9, 2007
Yeah, and I'd really like to have a way to save multiple versions of a puzzle, so I can save a version I like pretty well, while I experiment with other variations that might be better.
#26: Tara Pibel (tarap56) on Feb 7, 2007
I tried out the new h and v functions. Very nice!
#27: Zapman (Zapman) on Nov 4, 2007
Would it be possible to somehow see how many people have solved which ever puzzles?
#28: Jan Wolter (jan) on Feb 19, 2007
Yeah, that's certainly possible, more or less. Currently, there is a count of how many registered, logged-in users saved finished solutions to each puzzle. This doesn't include people who solved it anonymously, people who solved it, but didn't save the solution (this isn't usually possible with the current software, but it used to be), or people who printed it out and solved it on paper. So it's a somewhat dubious number. Maybe it would be interesting to display that somewhere. Currently it's only on some of the administrative reports I generate.

Here's the current "Most solved" puzzles. The 220/242 number means 242 people have saved solutions to the puzzle, of which 220 were completed solutions.

#2A President's Buddyjan220/242
#1Demo Puzzle from Front Pagejan204/218
#3First Puzzle Ever Entered Herejan190/209
#14The Second Easiest Puzzle Everjan191/192
#42Goojan161/162
#7wavevalerie152/159
#12How long will this take?Alex72154/158
#6Scardy Catjan143/156
#20Oncoming Trafficjan147/151
#10On The Pondjan146/149
#46Up and Awayjan146/148
#19Really Useful Puzzlejan140/143

As you can see, it's a bit of an embarrassing list. Small numbered puzzles, of course, since those are the oldest, and small-sized puzzles, but not particularly good puzzles, on the whole. Oh well.

#29: Zapman (Zapman) on Nov 4, 2007
Thanks very much

Just interesting info to have.

Bragging rights ;)
#30: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Apr 3, 2007
What do the h and k shortcuts do?
#31: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Apr 3, 2007
I think you mean h and v keys. Those do horizontal and vertical filling. If you put the cursor over a cell and press one of those keys, the row or column will be filled with the appropriate color between the first filled block to either side in the selected direction. If there is not a filled block in either direction, it fills to the edge. The requirements are that the blocks to fill between are the same color, or one or both are an edge. If there are no filled blocks in the row or column, then the entire row or column is colored white.

Hope my explanation isn't too confusing - play with the h and v options and you'll get the idea. It's very handy and time saving for long stretches of the same color.
#32: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Apr 3, 2007
Change the third sentence to read "If you put the cursor over an EMPTY cell ..."
#33: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Apr 3, 2007
Edit number 2 to my explanation - instead of "colored white" I should have said something like "filled with blanks". I got confused with other sites that use a background color for blank cells. (Wish I could edit my previous comments)
#34: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Apr 3, 2007
Could the new "auto gray out" feature be modified to work on rows or columns that are not completely filled in? It currently only works when the entire row or column is filled in. If it could automatically gray out numbers that have been completely filled in by starting from each end of the row or column and stopped checking at the first unfilled cell, it would help with those rows or columns that have lots of small numbers. Not sure how this would work with manually grayed out numbers especially when cells are filled in and then cleared (wouldn't want to leave automatically grayed out numbers if they and no longer correct, but wouldn't want to automatically clear numbers that were manually grayed out), and what the impact on performance would be. I've noticed a performance slowdown already with the current auto gray-out feature.
#35: Jan Wolter (jan) on Apr 4, 2007
Yeah, I've thought about making the grey-out more thoroughly automatic. But, as you say, I'm worried about doing too many checks on each click, since the performance cost is substantial. The line-done check was pretty cheap, and I thought it gave a lot of value - especially near the end of the puzzle when you're looking for those last few incomplete cells. I think eventually I'll go to fuller automation of the grey-out, but it's not on the top of my to-do list.

I need to add a description of the "h" and "v" fill keys to the FAQ. They are a bit hard to explain. By the way, on most browsers, "_" and "-" are synonyms for "h" (horizontal lines), and "|" and "\" are synonyms for "v" (a vertical line and another character that is often found on the same key as the vertical lines). This won't work on Macitosh versions of Firefox, which have a bug that prevents recognizing those keys.
#36: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Apr 5, 2007
Thanks a lot for the help on the h and v keys.
#37: Deana L (FFsWife) on Oct 26, 2007
I have a minor request... In the users list, is there anyway you can put in a jump of some sort? Such as jump to a beginning letter or something. Would make trying to find someone easier than having to scroll through everyone page by page.
#38: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 11, 2007
Yeah, I agree. The user list has got to be a hopeless mess. Can't find anyone there. I've been having to fix a lot of problems like this as the level of usage of the site goes up and up. User interfaces that worked fine when the site was small just don't work anymore.
#39: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 11, 2007
OK, the users list now has a search box.
#40: Deana L (FFsWife) on Oct 26, 2007
Thanks for the quick fix!
#41: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 11, 2007
Cool Jan thanks!
#42: Marie-Louise Ambrey (marz) on Sep 11, 2007
Unreal banana peel, Love it!!! Thanx Jan :)
#43: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Sep 16, 2007
It would be nice if you could only search for black and white or only color if you wanted.
#44: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 16, 2007
You can Michael. After you reach the "Find Puzzles" menu, check out the "sort by" box. The bottom 2 options are:
colors- fewest first
colors- most first

Both options separate black and white puzzles from colored ones. The first option will list the black and white ones at the top!
#45: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Sep 17, 2007
Thank you. Although I cant sort by anything else too, but it's not really a problem.
#46: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 17, 2007
Oh! You mean being able to do all the other sorting options but only for black and white. I'm sorry I misunderstood. ^>^
#47: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 26, 2007
I've added a tool to the site to allow me to keep track of things that need doing. It's mostly for my own use, but you can see it too.

To-Do List

#48: Deana L (FFsWife) on Oct 26, 2007
Interesting. Thanks for showing us your list. It'll be interesting watching it as you make the changes listed and add new ones. :)
#49: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 26, 2007
I don't promise that everything on the list will actually happen, or that the things that will happen are all on the list.
#50: Deana L (FFsWife) on Oct 26, 2007
Understood. Still like seeing the thoughts...
#51: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Oct 20, 2007
On todo #22(way down at the bottom), just so you know, Jan:
In IE 7, if you middle-click a button(or any link), it opens in a new tab, so that todo may not be nesaccary.
#52: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 20, 2007
Useful to know.
#53: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Oct 20, 2007
You're welcome.
#54: m2 (mercymercy) on Oct 21, 2007
super cool... got any more wisdom for us? I love it
#55: Tara Pibel (tarap56) on Oct 22, 2007
That's neat! It works in Firefox too.
#56: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Oct 23, 2007
I think the forum listing could use a solved column. I use the forum to look at comments I haven't read on puzzles I've already solved, but I don't want to read comments for ones I haven't solved yet. Something to add to your ever expanding to-do list. I'm really behind on puzzle solving, but I'm really, really behind on comments.
#57: Bionerd (nieboo) on Oct 23, 2007
I think this feature already exists, no? on top of the forums page, it says Show: and you can show comments for all solved puzzles.
#58: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Oct 24, 2007
oops - my bad. Looks like you are correct. Nice job Jan - you added it before I asked!!
#59: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 24, 2007
Putting check marks by solved puzzles when you are using one of the listing options that includes both solved and unsolved puzzles might be a good idea though. Not very high priority.
#60: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Oct 24, 2007
Thanks to nieboo slapping me upside the head (and Jan's prescience), I have finally caught up on comments for the ones I've solved. Now I have about 100 puzzles to solve to be completely caught up (sigh).
#61: Bionerd (nieboo) on Oct 24, 2007
haha, anything to help.
#62: Robert Kummerfeldt (rmkummerfeldt) on Oct 26, 2007
Question about recent changes to let us modify comments. If someone modifies a comment I have already read, will it show up in the New Comments listing?
#63: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 26, 2007
No. That would be somewhat difficult to do, and I don't want to go there.

As I guideline, I would suggest that you use the "edit" feature to fix typos and stuff, not to make substantial changes to the content of your messages. People who already saw the old version won't necessarily see the new version.
#64: Laura De Block (ldeblock) on Dec 8, 2007
I have been coming to this site for several years. I prefer to solve my puzzles on paper so I would have to go through a whole process to save the puzzle image and then print it. I would like to thank you for adding the new Hover - Print Puzzle feature. I just saved 60 puzzles to my computer as .pdf files so that I can print them when I am ready to do them. This is one of the best Christmas presents I will receive this year. :)
#65: Timo Frenay (timo) on Jan 3, 2008
One thing I miss in the editor is the ability to use the number keys like in the solving environment. This would make editing multi color puzzles a lot easier. I also really like the idea that has been put forward here to remove the grid and dots from a solved puzzle.

As for #24 on your To-Do, I don't think this is a very good idea. Although I'm sure designers would like it if they could use yellow in their puzzles, it is hard to see on a white background (especially when printed) and it breaks established standards. People who solve these puzzles on paper may use four-color pens, which obviously contain black, red, green and blue. Yellow pens are hard to come by.
#66: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jan 7, 2008
I like the number key suggestion and have added it to my TO DO list.

I'd never thought about black/red/green/blue pens. It a coincidence that I use the same colors...or maybe not. The designers of the pens probably chose those four colors for the same reasons I did.
#67: Adam Nielson (monkey) on Aug 26, 2008
One question... I don't know if this has ever been asked, since there are SO MANY different forums, and countless numbers of comments WITHIN each forum, so I haven't gone through them all.

Anyway, my question is this: Is there any way to fill in large sections of a solid color when you are CREATING a puzzle? If you know what I mean, when you are creating a puzzle, it is tedious to have to drag the mouse all over, hitting every cell to fill in a single color (over a large area). As far as I can tell, the H and V keys don't even work when creating. Is there any way to do it already? Or if not, any way to create such a feature?
#68: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 27, 2008
Nope. The puzzle creation environment needs a whole lot of better tools.
#69: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 21, 2008
Black, Red, Green, Blue ... = RGB (sorry, I work in printing) ... which might answer why yellow wouldn't necessarily be out of the question either (CMYK ... cyan [blue], magenta [red], yellow and black).
But I think there might be enough colors to fuss with at the moment <smile>
#70: Wombat (wombatilim) on Sep 1, 2009
I'd like to see an option in the puzzle search to skip puzzles with no whitespace.
#71: Paul Fritsch (pfrit) on May 6, 2010
I would realy like the option of duplicating the clues on the sides. If I could set the clues on both the top and bottom (and the left and right) it would GREATLY reduce the amount of scolling in large puzzles. Just an idea.
#72: Merili (merilinnuke) on May 6, 2010
You can use your arrow keys to move the clues (tip #17)
#73: Gator (Gator) on May 6, 2010
The clues can be moved easily with the arrow keys. See here for more info:
http://webpbn.com/read.cgi?type=T&id=185&what=allrep
#74: Paul Fritsch (pfrit) on May 6, 2010
Funny. I just found that and I was going back to edit my post. You guys are FAST!!! Thanks!
#75: Merili (merilinnuke) on May 6, 2010
anytime :)
#76: Ruth Neal (ruthneal) on Jul 30, 2011
How do I intentionally engage the auto-dot or auto-fill feature, so I don't have to continually hold down a mouse button for an extended area of a puzzle? From time to time, I "accidentally" engage this feature, but not sure what I did. Thanks! Love the 2 color puzzles!
#77: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Aug 1, 2011
Ruth, you need to put the mouse pointer onto the row or column you want to fill, then press "H" for horizontal or "V" for vertical.

Note: It only fills "obvious" things. So it will fill:
- a row or column that is all one color
- between two pixels of the same color
- from a colored (or dotted) pixel to the edge of the puzzle.
#78: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Sep 29, 2011
it would make hints and puzzle discussion a little bit easier if there were some kind of "percentage complete" or "X of XXX colors filled" indicator on the puzzle, as in "line logic alone got me to 63% and that point some edge logic opened up on the right, then more line logic until i got stuck at 77%" ...for others who solve they are more likely to know where those points are to help. just my two cents. thanks for the site!
#79: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Aug 14, 2013
For people giving hints, it would be very nice to have a coordinate readout for the cursor.
#80: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Aug 14, 2013
agree joe!
#81: Wombat (wombatilim) on Aug 15, 2013
Oh goodness yes.

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