Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #444: Exporting to Excel
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 9, 2013

Bryan (aka Cyclone) recently posted a message on Facebook talking about problems with the puzzle printing function, especially for big puzzles. He described some methods he uses for printing puzzles, one of which involved transcribing the puzzle into an Excel spreadsheet and then printing that, using the richer page formatting controls available there.

I thought that was kind of interesting, and I have at least one paying client who might be interested in generating Excel files, so I thought I'd spend some time experimenting with that. (One of my goals in working on webpbn is always developing experience with technologies that are likely to be useful in paid work.)

So I've added some new options to the export page for exporting puzzles to spread sheets.

There's a good chance you've never seen the export page. If you hover the mouse over an entry on the puzzle list page, you'll see "Export" as an option there. Or you can just go to http://webpbn.com/export.cgi . This lets you export any webpbn puzzle in any of a very long list of formats. Most of these are formats for loading into nonogram solving programs, but you can also export an image file of the solution, and now you can export into spread sheets. The CSV format is a very primitive interchange format, the Excel file is a full-fledged Excel spreadsheet with formatting and colors and everything.

If you export a puzzle in the Excel format and load it into Excel (or OpenOffice or LibreOffice or Gnumeric), then you get a pretty decent representation of the puzzle. You can adjust the format to your tastes and print it out.

It's conceivable that a person would solve a puzzle in Excel. Some additional formatting might help. I was experimenting with adding conditional formats to the cells so that if you enter an "X" in a cell, it displays as black text on a black background - in other words, a solid black square. "B" would give a solid blue square, "G" a solid green square, "R" solid red, "W" white, "?" unknown. Tying in all those letters makes for a rather clumsy solve, but you can also use Excel's validity feature to say that ? X G W B R are the only legal values for a cell, and have it pop up a pulldown list whenever you click on a cell. Then it takes just two clicks to color a cell. Not great, but possible.

However, I haven't yet implemented that because (1) I don't know if anyone would actually want that, and (2) it's somewhat incompatible with using the Excel sheets for printing. For solving you'd want to start all cells in an "unknown" state, which would likely be grey, and you wouldn't want that for printing. But I could have two different Excel formats if there was any demand.

So this is probably of no use to most users, but some might find it an interesting thing to experiment with. If you have suggestions for improvements, I'd be interested (I'm not actually much of a spreadsheet expert). I'd also be interested if this actually works in Excel, which I do not own (just OpenOffice and LibreOffice for me).
#2: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Dec 9, 2013
So, I tried the export on one of my puzzles. It is not easy with firefox as it just loads the file into the content frame as plain text. In order to save it as a file I had to right click and choose "This Frame|Save Frame As..."

It opened just fine in excel 2010 (pro). The numbers were all greyed out, tho. Was that intentional?

In 2008/2009 I had made an Open Office .ods file where you could play black and white pbns. (It was mostly to check solutions to Games magazine puzzles I had messed up, so there is some copyrighted content in it.) Would you like me to send you the file so you can poke around it and see if there's anything useful for you?
#3: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 10, 2013
I don't really think anyone is going to want to solve puzzles in Open Office, so I'm not sure I want to invest much energy in setting up puzzles to solve there.

Yes, black clues are on grey backgrounds, blue clues are on light blue backgrounds, etc. If you don't like it, it's very easy to set all backgrounds to "no fill".

It is sending the correct MIME type for a xlsx file....but I'm having the same problem with Firefox.

Goto next topic

You must register and log in to be able to participate in this discussion.