Monday, June 16, 2014

Web App to Solve The Hindu Crossword Online

If the lack of an online solving platform for The Hindu Crossword has been your lament, it is now time to rejoice.

Venkatraman Narayanan, a PhD student in Robotics at CMU and a Hindu crossword enthusiast, has developed an application that lets you solve the daily Hindu Crossword interactively. The application is available at the-hindu-crossword.appspot.com. The site requires no registration/login, is clutter-free and intuitive to use. The home page takes you to the latest puzzle; arrow buttons on the page can be used to navigate to past puzzles.

the-hindu-crossword-online-540

For those interested in the technical nitty-gritties of how the app works: the backend is in Python, which downloads and parses the crossword grid and clues from The Hindu website. This is done using image processing on the grid, and regular expressions for parsing the clues from the HTML source code. The front-end is built upon Jesse Weisback's open-source crossword UI, with a few new features and design changes. Finally, the entire thing is wrapped into a Google app which is automatically updated everyday when a new crossword becomes available at The Hindu website.

The complete app took Venkatraman Narayanan about 10 days to create from scratch. "It initially started off as a hack to help few of my friends and me to solve the crossword online, but I then realized I could polish it and make it useful for THC enthusiasts around the globe", he says.

The app is currently in beta stage, with features like "Save Grid", which saves the solved crossword to disk, in progress. At the time of writing this, the app works for crosswords 1st July 2011 onwards. Development is on to make older crosswords accessible too. Try the app and if you have feedback/suggestions, write to the author venkatraman@cmu.edu.

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7 comments

Kishore said...

Excellent work on part of V. Keep it up.

Deepak Gopinath said...

The app doesn't detect the Sunday crossword, whereas the app created by Chitra and Magesh which is available through Orkut apps does so

Shuchi said...

Hello Colonel, Can you share a link or navigation path of the Orkut app? Will take a look.

Chaturvasi said...

On Sundays The Hindu publishes, by arrangement, the Everyman crossword from The Guardian. This after a timelag of seven weeks or so.
When that crossword is available for free, interactive solving on the original site, I am not sure why an app for THC should pick it up.
Finally, there's this question of external apps providing crosswords for interactive solving by a larger audience when the original paper - The Hindu - itself is cold to a suggestion from setters whether it cannot offer that facility on its site.
While setters may be grateful to the software developers that their work is taken to a larger and wider audience, I would like to ask what benefit the setters get, especially when the remuneration that they get is a pittance when compared to what papers in the UK or the US pay.

B.V.K. said...

Ah finally. I can stop printing. Thank you so much.

Venkat said...

Thank you Shuchi, for spreading the word through this post. As the Colonel noted, the application does not parse the Sunday crossword as of now. In due course however, I will try to include it, or at least provide a link to the appropriate Guardian page.

Sowmya said...

Shuchi - Thanks for sharing this. Great work Venkat. This would surely be useful to solvers and setters based outside India who cannot access the Hindu's print edition readily. Venkat, you might also wish to check the Catalyst Brand Crossword , which is an interactive crossword application that was developed in-house at the Businessline, and which has been available for a few months now.