Never knowingly undersolved.

New Guardian Website

Posted by Gaufrid on February 11th, 2010


For those of you who have tried to print today’s puzzle and have just got a grey block where the grid should be there is a solution. You need to set your browser so that it prints the background as well as the foreground.

In IE8 this is done by selecting ‘Page Setup’ on the ‘File’ menu and then checking the box next to ‘Print Background Colors and Images’. Having done this, you should be able to print the full puzzle, albeit with text so small that it is barely legible.

Edit: See also comment #9 in Guardian 24,931  (thanks sidey)

76 Responses to “New Guardian Website”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid.
    It’s not the printing option that bothers me (but I can see how others are less than impressed).
    That’s a bit like arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    Judging by the number of comments under today’s Paul, EVERYBODY agrees with me, suggesting it’s a huge backward step.
    Just about everything about it is worse (mostly FAR worse) than it was before.
    Seriously, who thought ANY of it was a good idea?
    If it had been the other way round, and this travesty was the old version, people would have been doing the puzzle for years and thinking “OK, but not as good as the Indy site”. Then, if it had been replaced by the previous version, people would have been delighted, and left only positive comments.
    Everybody should leave a comment under the puzzle to register their disgust…

  2. Alberich says:

    That’s a very useful tip, Gaufrid. Thanks.

    The annoying thing about this is that I can easily see myself forgetting to turn the option to print the background back off, and so the ink saved by the new grey grid will be wasted printing background colours on other pages I may print.

    Even with this problem solved there’s still the very small print for the clues, with illegible overlaps where answers have more than one grid entry. It is a shame that after several years of reliable and, of course, free service, the meddlers have had their way and fixed what ain’t broke.

    As Ian says, we should pester the guardian until we get the PDF format back, at least.

  3. Michael says:

    I agree — why opn earth was this new lay out not tested – even among Guardian staff. I´d be interested to see how long it takes for the Guardian crossword editor, or the online editor, to response to the complaints

  4. djm says:

    The visibilty of the printed crossword is hopeless – the grid lines are invisible.

    I’ve tried direct print from my usual browser, and the IE tip provided above, and the Doro PDF writer methods. All three give exactly the same result.

    This is incredible. WHo on earth could have devised such a mess?

    Will these (few for the moment) comments get back to those responsible?

  5. Simon G says:

    I agree with Ian’s comment – we should all leave our complaints under today’s crossword. I’ve already left a couple (under the usename ErictheHalfwit)… Have just checked and there were 138 comments – 136 critical and a duplicated response from someone on the Grauniad explaining how to print the crossword.

    It defies belief that such a substandard offering could replace what was a perfectly functional site.

  6. Simon G says:

    One other point I meant to add – concentrating all our comments on the Grauniad’s site will hopefully focus their powers that be to take the necessary corrective action. Leaving comments here are unlikely to have any impact…

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    djm, to cheer you up, there are about three squillion comments already for the crossword editor on the Grauniad site, which range in tone from furious to apoplectic (and they’re the polite ones). I think (and sincerely hope) that he’s caught the mood.

  8. sidey says:

    I’ll repost this:

    A solution to the printing problems ‘over there’. Install Doro PDF Writer, it appears as an alternative printer when you ‘Print’. The whole thing appears on one page legibly. You can now commit it to paper.


    A major problem for whoever designed the new page is the Corporate Image of the site that means there is that useless column of links on the RHS. There isn’t a hope as far as I can see of a usable interactive version ever appearing. One amusing thing though, they have provided a link to the old Guardian Unlimited talkboards on the front page. A strange thing to do as “they” have apparently been trying to let the boards die. Be warned, if you are tempted to visit, there is virtually no moderation so it is not for the faint hearted.

  9. John Appleton says:

    I very much liked the old version. The interface used on the Indy site isn’t nearly as good as that, IMHO. But the new Guardian one is indeed a step back, as others have said. The cynical side of me thinks it might be a woefully misplaced attempt to get people to buy the paper rather than do the online version. I’m not sure that’s really the way people think, though.

  10. Gaufrid says:

    A pdf version of today’s puzzle has now been added to the Guardian website:

    There is also a statement in one of the comments posted by a Guardian employee – “Our technical team is working on a fix to automate the appearance of PDFs” – hopefully this will come to fruition!

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. I’ve just noticed that link too after posting a comment and joining the chorus of disapproval. I really hope they revert to the PDF format tomorrow. It was very disconcerting (and hard on the eyes) to try to solve the puzzle without grid lines and with the clues in such tiny type!

  12. robc says:

    would be nice to always see the whole grid and the relevant clue simultaneously e.g. todays quick crossword 24ac

  13. Simon G says:

    Last word on this from me for the moment… perhaps the Grauniad now understands why they’re called CROSSwords…

  14. Richard says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid.

  15. Chunter says:

    There’s link to ‘Crosswords – Improved Puzzles’ on the Guardian’s home page. ‘Pit your wits against our enhanced interactive crosswords’ it says, not quite capturing the mood of the moment.

  16. Andrew says:

    Well, there has certainly been a lot of pitting of wits, though perhaps not in the way they intended.

  17. Martin Belam says:

    One amusing thing though, they have provided a link to the old Guardian Unlimited talkboards on the front page.

    I thought that since we have a crossword section on the wilds of the Talk board, it was worth pointing people to it…

    There have been various comments from Guardian staff littered through the comment threads on today’s and yesterday’s crosswords, but just to round up we’ll be putting more detail on settings for browsers and printing in the FAQ, and my colleague Sally has put up PDF version of today’s puzzles and I believe will continue to do so over the next few days. We are using the grey grid rather than black on the print version as a result of lots of users requests from people who said our old black grids depleted their ink supplies too quickly.

  18. rrc says:

    We should have realised that when the guardian stated that on line grid would not save in the new format the relaunch would be disaster. Approximately two hours and loads of paper trying to print off a copy of the grid and the clues, something I could normally do in less than 5 minutes progress!

  19. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for your input. You say “….. and my colleague Sally has put up PDF version of today’s puzzles and I believe will continue to do so over the next few days”. Are we to infer from this that the availability of a pdf file is only going to be short term? This is not the impression that was given in the comment I quoted in #10 above.

    The grey as opposed to black squares would not be a problem if the grid lines were black. As it is, the lines are virtually invisible even when I set my laser printer to ‘dark’. The issue of the text size on the print version also needs to be addressed.

  20. Ian S. says:

    And there was me thinking this was a new type of puzzle, to sit alongside Printer’s Devilry and Perimetrics . . .

  21. sandra coleman says:

    afraid i left my comment on the wrong site!!

    it isn’t just the printing. i am disabled, i do not have a printer, it’s kaput,and in any case, difficult for me to use. split screen does not work for down clues – the end bits are missing. all the scrolling is very painful for me and although i will persevere, there will be some days when i cannot manage it. and there are many people worse than me.

    no divisions between words in the grid – probably a minor detail, but another step back. i am bitterly disappointed.

    i do buy the guardian – have done so, and done the crossword for nearly 50 years, but it comes a day late, sometimes more, and although fifteensquared is still useful, i do like to add my twopennorth at times.

    would like a decent explanation of why it had to be changed.

  22. Andrew says:

    Martin, thanks for your comment, and the promise of a PDF version, at least for the near future. However, that fact thet you see the need for “more detail on settings for browsers and printing in the FAQ”, when generally speaking there were no problems with the previous version, should give you a clue that something is seriously amiss with the new design. I do not take kindly to the prospect having to having to adjust my browser settings to work around problems with your site.

    Until today I have always printed the PDF and filled in the crossword in the old-fashioned way, and will be very unhappy not to have this option – or something very close to it – in the future. I have no interest in using the interactive interface, even if its drawbacks – described at length on your comment page – are addressed.

  23. IanN14 says:

    I noticed your comment on the Guardian site. Well done for eliciting a response from the paper.
    I hope they carry out what they say they will.
    (For some of us, of course, it’s just an irritation compared to how it affects others).
    Just one thing though; there are actually divisions (and hyphens) between the words in the grid, but I think you’d have to have perfect eyesight and a good magnifying glass to spot them…

  24. Lenny says:

    One solution is to do a “Print Screen” (by pressing the Shift and Prnt Scrn keys at the same time) and then paste the result into Word or Powerpoint using Ctrl-V. You can then resize and print.

    Not pretty, in fact rather ugly, but is worked for me.

  25. muck says:

    Andrew#22. My feelings exactly!

  26. Alberich says:

    Agree entirely Andrew (no 22) – I was reassured by the news that the PDF format was to be reinstated, but now it seems that it’ll only be temporary?

    In my view, no site should require changing browser settings merely to print a page. The PDF version should be reinstated permanently or there should be a page printable with standard browser settings. ‘Nuff said.

  27. FumbleFingers says:

    This must be the worst ever upgrade since the sausage left the frying pan for the fire!

    I personally know several people who can’t or won’t afford to buy a newspaper just for the crossword. Until today TG online crozzie was one of few pleasures they (and I) could look forward to every day.

    I’m staggered Guardian staff obviously couldn’t be bothered with even rudimentary user acceptance testing. Words fail me when I see they have the temerity to brazen out this fiasco as mere “teething troubles”.

  28. stiofain says:

    This “upgrade” is an absolute disgrace and the mealy mouthed dodging of responsibilty and refusal to address the salient points raised here and on the site blog by Martin at no17 add insult to injury.
    I notice he has removed an earlier comment he made on the Guardian blog that “it worked fine on my set up” did the Guardian really not beta test this? Did they allow one person to say yay or nay based on his personal hardware setup?
    The assertion “we’ll be putting more detail on settings for browsers and printing in the FAQ” is ridiculous are you going to go back 10 yrs or so and add “this site is best viewed in netscape navigator with a screen resolution of bla blah blah”.
    Printing out is only one of the problems in this travesty ( coincidence “travesty” was the answer to 8 d today? ) scrolling down to see clues and thereby losing the grid is terrible it needs at least a 20inch monitor to see both at the same time.
    I ran the page through the W3C org validator, standard practice before launching a site, it has 1963 errors and 334 warnings as a comparison the constantly changing front page has 141 errors ( sloppy but acceptable ).
    Stop trying to brazen it out as teething troubles as funble says and get it sorted, go back to the old applet and get someone competent to do a redesign followed by proper testing and give a suitably bad reference to the Youth Training Program intern responsible for this pile of s**te.

  29. Bryan says:

    I have now figured it out: it is a deliberate ploy to drive users to the site – for the benefit of the advertisers.

    When I last looked a few minutes ago, the Quick had attracted 118 Comments and the Cryptic 263.

    Music of the Day: ‘Money Makes the World Go Round’ from Cabaret.

  30. Martin Belam says:

    Just to follow up on a few points

    Gaufrid: “Are we to infer from this that the availability of a pdf file is only going to be short term?”

    No, it is my belief that for the crosswords where a PDF is produced (which I think is all of the ones which actually appear in the printed edition) we’ll be putting those online. At the moment it will have to be done by hand as part of the upload process, but we will endeavour to automate that. Dull back-end production answers about the way that the crosswords are actually produced is why the PDF got decoupled. Having said that, you may detect from my vagueness that my role (Information Architect on the website) doesn’t actually deal with the print production side of things terribly much, so that process is a little bit of a black box to me.

    Andrew: “However, that fact that you see the need for ‘more detail on settings for browsers and printing in the FAQ’, when generally speaking there were no problems with the previous version, should give you a clue that something is seriously amiss with the new design.”

    Don’t misunderstand me there, we have been working on fixing some of the issues that people have raised. What I meant was that in the short term, as an interim step, we were hoping to provide more information on whatever settings or workarounds you might need.

    FumbleFingers: “This must be the worst ever upgrade since the sausage left the frying pan for the fire”

    I raised a wry smile at that.

    “I’m staggered Guardian staff obviously couldn’t be bothered with even rudimentary user acceptance testing.”

    The print ability was tested, we test everything, and as far as I was aware we were relatively happy that it worked fine with our main supported browsers and operating systems. We clearly underestimated the complexity of getting that to work right first time across the full end-to-end range of browsers/operating systems/browser print settings/os print settings/printers/printer software settings. As I’ve said, we’ll be putting the PDF version online, and so if it isn’t working for you, then you should be able to bypass it altogether.

    stiofain, just to clarify, you say “I notice he has removed an earlier comment he made on the Guardian blog” – not me. I certainly haven’t removed any of the comments I’ve made about crosswords, you can find them all listed on my profile page on The Guardian site.

    Also, final thing, you may have noticed that late this afternoon we made a change to the templates, so that the tools now appear under the grid. You should find that when you select a clue, it will appear on the right-hand side of the grid, which will reduce some of the scrolling that people have been unhappy with.

  31. garble says:

    I’ve been wondering how Araucaria’s occasional oversized grid offerings will be handled by the new format. If there were a size or scale widget, that could adjust the grid smaller or larger with appropriate changes in font sizes for the letters in the grid, I think this would be greatly appreciated.

    BTW, I think the echoing of the currently selected clue to the right is a big improvement, but I’m not sure my 1024×768 pixel display is quite satisfied yet.

  32. Lenny says:

    Later that Thursday in the pub…

    “Well this has been a day to remember!”

    “How did Hugh take it?”

    “Don’t ask”

    “I thought you said that the testing went well”

    “Well, my brother tried it at home, he has a laptop and said it worked fine”

    “Did he try printing?”

    “I’m pretty sure he did, because I told him to imagine he was a regular crossword-solver and to test everything”

    “And what about some of the coding and format issues?”

    “Well, in hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have gone for Tim’s friend. Turns out the guy was also working on another job for a Bed and Breakfast place and they seem to have taken priority”

    “Oh well, I think the worst is over. And I assume there’s no way you’d go back to the old version”

    “That’s not going to happen. But I’ve got a feeling we’ll be making quite a few changes over the next few days”

    “I bet you wish you hadn’t added the comments feature though!”

  33. sidey says:

    Martin Belam, thank you for taking the trouble to address some of the problems.

    A real problem is the insistence on keeping the ‘style’ of all Guardian pages the same. The clues would fit quite happily to the right of the interactive grid, the sensible place for most people’s landscape screens.

    You describe yourself as an architect, are you aware of an ancient Roman architect named Vitruvius who wrote that a building must be considered “with due reference to function, structure, and beauty” (Utilitas, Firmitas, and Venustas in his original Latin)? You seem to have got them in the wrong order.

    Have you ever seen how The Times version looks? A similar design would still leave room for the right side column. You obviously won’t do such a drastic redesign, but at least put the Tools under the clues, please.

  34. sidey says:

    Lenny, that’s brilliant!

  35. sandra coleman says:


    thank you so much for pointing that out – i hadn’t even looked as i assumed they would be focussed on the printing! so i wouldn’t have seen it but for your info.

    well, we’ll see. as i have said, there are many people much worse off than me, and it worries me that they may not be able to do anything, once they had fathomed out the puzzle. but i really hope they will do something about this problem, as well as all the others. can’t do without the crossword and 15/2!! sounds trivial, but it isn’t really.

    again, many thanks.

  36. Martin Belam says:

    sidey, alas my Latin is a little bit rusty for the original Vitruvius quote. I take your point about the constrained layout. One issue is that to get greater landscape width, we’d have to remove the advert, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate with a free service, it is the adverts that pay for the crosswords, and for an ad impression to count it has to be ‘above the fold’. We are also at an interesting point in terms of the kind of screen sizes people are using. We get around 8% of users who have their browser screen set at 1,500 pixels wide and above, but we also get around 8% who have a browser window of less than 899 pixels, who can’t see the entire width of our page as it is. We are also seeing an increasing amount of traffic from smart phones as well, which have an even narrower display. There is a real design tension between making things landscape so that they work well on small laptops and notebooks, and making them narrow so they work on portable devices with a portrait orientated screen.

  37. Gaufrid says:

    Many thanks for your continued involvement with this site. I am very pleased to hear that the pdf version will be available long term.

    With regard to your comment “The print ability was tested, we test everything, and as far as I was aware we were relatively happy that it worked fine with our main supported browsers and operating systems”. I am running Vista plus IE8 and could not get a satisfactory print. Do you not support the (almost) latest operating system and the latest browser?

  38. PaulG says:


    You wrote:
    Dull back-end production answers about the way that the crosswords are actually produced is why the PDF got decoupled. …… so that process is a little bit of a black box to me.

    The above suggests that communication in English is not your strong suit. Unfortunately, it would also seem that your technical expertise and, more importantly, knowledge of your users’ needs also require some work. This is all very frustrating for the countless people who just want to DO THE CROSSWORD.

  39. IanN14 says:

    sandra@35, if you’re still there…
    No problem, glad to be of help.
    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but (as Derek points out in the Paul blog) they’ve put a small improvement on the site, whereby the clue to the highlighted answer appears to the right of the grid, instead of the tools, which they’ve shifted underneath.
    Hope this helps you with the scrolling (or lack of it).

  40. stiofain says:

    Martin your points are red herrings.
    Put the adverts “above the fold” but not the content???
    8% of users does not constitute a tipping point between a traditional landscape, internally printer friendly layout and a smartphone led user unfriendly portrait layout.
    Backend problems my arse.

    The slight improvements today are welcome but no more than a quick fix fudge.

    Admit this was a tech disaster, change your style sheet to display the old fully functional applet in the mean time, apologise to your users and ffs test the new layout before you roll it out again.

    Some points
    1. make sure the clues AND grid are above the fold
    2. reinstate the function that greys out solved clues
    3. change that horrible font
    4. make your new font size fit the grid
    5. reinstate the java confirmation that puzzle is saved
    6. make arrow controls and backspace and delete work within grid
    7. sort out the anagram function to make it more of a user friendly scribble pad
    8. dont design because a sociopath in a black turtleneck has revealed the future to you

  41. stiofain says:

    ps lol @ lenny
    “im gonna pull a sickie tomoro”

  42. stiofain says:

    Just did the Gordius it is much improved

  43. FumbleFingers says:

    It’s the way yah tell ‘em, Lenny! Best laugh I’ve had all week. Irritated later to see some prat adding his own drivel after your priceless closing line when he copied the text (without attribution, I’m afraid) into the Guardian “user comments” for Thursday’s puzzle.

    I just printed today’s Gordius, but solving will have to wait until I have some decent daylight to read the pointlessly undersized clue font. When will TG get a grip?

  44. Andrew K says:

    Sorry, bit thick. How do I get to the PDF version? What’s the ‘spoiler alert’? and where is it on the window?

    I sincerely hope AZED’s puzzle on Sunday will have a PDF version EASILY available

  45. Martin Belam says:

    PaulG: “The above suggests that communication in English is not your strong suit.”

    Not one of my finest I’ll admit.

    “It would also seem that your technical expertise and, more importantly, knowledge of your users’ needs also require some work”

    On the technical side of things I was just trying make the point that The Guardian is a big organisation, and I couldn’t hand-on-heart tell you the technical end-to-end process by which a crossword gets from a setter’s hands onto print and screen.

    stiofain, I wasn’t meaning to imply that the design had been led by making it work on smartphones, merely that whereas we used to always be able to work under the assumption that screens would get bigger and wider and have more pixel resolution on them (as has happened relentlessly over the last decade) suddenly we also have to consider a whole host of new devices that are accessing the content on very narrow screens. Ideally, layout and design should always be optimised for the device you are viewing on, whether that is phone, laptop, netbook, desktop PC or on paper. Glad to see you found the Gordius better.

  46. Colin Blackburn says:

    Well if some of you want Martin to disengage from this group you are certainly going about it the right way.

  47. Shirley says:

    AndrewK just scroll down below the crossword and all the other rubbish and just before you get to the reader’s comments there is a spoiler which tells you that the comments may contain references to todays answers.
    Just above that is the pdf link.
    According to Scamerongriffiths who seems to be the only person at the Guardian with any sense, they are working on putting the pdf link in a more prominent position because of reader’s comments!
    Just a pity they have had to wait for them first!

  48. Andrew says:

    Colin – well put.

    Martin – thanks again for coming here on what must have been a rather tumultuous day for you, and for remaining courteous in the face of some stringent and occasionally over-aggressive commenting. I’m glad to see that you’ve made some changes in the light of users’ comments, but a lot of the problems (notably the missing lines to the printed grid, and the troubles with scrolling on the interactive version) could surely have been avoided by better user testing. The sheer volume of comments shows that the crossword has a large and devoted following: perhaps some of these could have been used as beta testers. This could have give you useful feedback and averted the disastrous loss of good will that you experienced yesterday. We only make all this fuss because we care!

  49. PaulG says:

    Sorry about that. At least you’ve fronted up to try and explain the mess, even though none of it makes any sense to me.

  50. Will Mc says:

    You’re a better man than I would have been Martin. Given some of the ridiculously over-the-top whining from some people – for what is essentially a free service – I would have been tempted to just pull the plug on the whole thing. I hope they can shut up know that you have given them back the dummies that they spat out. I was surprised some of them didn’t call for intervention by the UN or Amnesty International, so great was the hurt and anguish of not being able to, um, print out a crossword.

  51. Gareth Rees says:

    I think the new online crossword software is a big improvement over the old in a number of ways: (1) it loads immediately: no long delay waiting for the Java applet; (2) it works in Chrome; (3) you can see all the clues on screen at once: no need to scroll the tiny window; (4) you can resize the grid (although the layout is a bit buggy); (5) there’s some hope of actually fixing the problems since all the source code is now available.

  52. Andrew Kitching says:

    Thanks Shirley. All I want, is the ‘if you want a PDF version of this puzzle, click here’ sign! Thanks for the info

  53. sidey says:

    Martin, if you’re still around, you may see why I was amused by your link to GU Crosswords if you look at today’s posts, it’s not the nicest of places.

  54. FumbleFingers says:

    I also would like to thank you for the measured tone of your posts here (and the manly fortitude shown by your continuing to show, lol!)

    I don’t subscribe to the oft-expressed view here that we solvers should be grateful for whatever we get from a “free” online puzzle service, and I don’t think you’re intending to promote that position when you raise issues such as production costs, due provision for advertisements, etc. They come with the territory in your position, and if you handle them even half as well as you deal with the flack here then GMG should consider themselves lucky to have such a capable chap on the team.

    Personally I think Guardian crossword solvers should figure highly in the target audience of any media organisation aiming higher than the gutter, as we’re more likely to be social movers, opinion makers, etc. (obviously I’m biased here, but I’ve already managed to convince myself of the truth of that statement, which gives me a 100% success rate today in terms of being an opinion maker…)

    Once again, thank you for keeping faith with this excellent site.

  55. liz says:

    Thanks to everyone who raised their objections yesterday and thanks to the Guardian for listening.

  56. Jake says:

    The new format sorry to say – whoever the designer was – you’ve really killed it. REALLY killed it. I cannot find a PDF (as published and how it looks as printed in the paper).

    I cannot see all the cluing from my 15″ ibook laptop.

    revert back to the original settings

    You’ve decided to fix something that was not broken in the first place???

  57. Gaufrid says:

    “I cannot find a PDF ……”

    Open the ‘standard version’, scroll down to the bottom of the ‘Help’ section under the puzzle itself and you will find:

    ‘Click here for a PDF version of cryptic crossword No 24,932′

  58. sandra coleman says:

    ianN14 #39

    thanks for that. it was certainly much easier for me today as no scrolling involved. i am grateful to the guardian for doing that.
    would still like all clues to be visible, for reasons explained elsewhere, but i can at least do the crossword, even though it takes longer. some people – never satisfied. sorry! happy really.

  59. Jake says:

    Mr Guafrid No.57.

    Thank-you, I can now see it – nice one Sir!

  60. Jake says:

    Sorry for typo on Gaufrid, Gaufrid.

  61. sidey says:

    Gaufrid, I’ve been meaning to say thank you for this thread, a haven of sanity compared to the Graun’s comments. By the way, in case you missed it, Martin linked to here in one of his comments.

  62. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for mentioning the link. I did try to keep an eye on the comments yesterday, in case there was some useful feedback, but they came in thick and fast and I am sure that I must have missed some. I certainly wasn’t going to wade through 300+ comments just to see if I had.

  63. Martin Belam says:

    “thanks again for coming here on what must have been a rather tumultuous day for you”

    I’ve had better.

    Although, in truth, I’ve had worse launches as well…I don’t think Larry’s imagination of the pub conversation could do justice to the level of swearing that took place on those days!

    Thank you for your kind words above about my joining in here. I’m aware that it can be a bit odd if you are discussing something in your own community, and someone new barges in – especially when they are one of the people who has contributed to the thing that has annoyed you most that day.

    There will be things about the new system which I am sure people will continue to dislike, but I do believe that by moving onto our R2 platform we’ve provided new features like the automatic aggregation pages for each individual setter which we absolutely couldn’t do before, we’ve made the production process simpler which should lead to fewer mistakes in the clues in future, and we’ve made the crosswords accessible to a lot of people who were unable to use the previous Java app due to restrictions on their computer set-ups.

    Obviously there were far more problems with the initial launch than we had expected or would hope for, which is disappointing, and I’m really sorry for that. Firstly it is disappointing because we always try and do our best for The Guardian and Observer readers, and secondly it is disappointing for us as professionals who care about what we do.

    As I mentioned above, we’ve added some more detailed information to the FAQ about print settings.

    Phil, who was one of the main tech guys on the project, has written a post on our ‘Inside Guardian’ blog about the new crosswords, where I have no doubt a lively comment thread is about to take place which you may want to join in.

    On Monday (I think, assuming it passes subbing) I’ll be publishing a post in the same place about some of my work on the project, which included lurking on fifteensquared as part of my research. It also has some snippets from The Manchester Guardian’s coverage of the crossword ‘craze’ in the 1920s which you might find of interest.

    I think I’ll sign off here, thanks for letting me join in your conversation.

  64. sandra coleman says:

    gaufrid, thank you for this site. wondering if you are still monitoring it, but the graun’s has had nothing since thursday.

    i thought when the araubetical (thanks to whoever coined that great word) came up, that i would find it difficult to do online. now i know i can’t!! not even by using pen and paper to solve the clues. has anyone seen this? the clue still comes up at the rhs, which totally defeats the purpose of the puzzle. i have been looking forward to one of these, but it has been rendered totally impossible.

    please, has anyone else discovered this?

  65. sidey says:

    Sandra, the clues that come up at the side aren’t the right ones, check their lengths. It’s a glitch that happened with the old system too.

  66. Lenny says:

    I couldn’t resist one more:

    “So that was quite a day on Thursday”

    “Don’t remind me”

    “What time did you guys finally get out of there?”

    “About 2AM”

    “Oh well, seems like the worst is over”

    “Yeah. I suppose in the end you just have to laugh… Actually, the funniest part was during the second emergency meeting. We were all in the conference room using the whiteboard to work out which side of the grid to put those bloody little grey boxes. Anyway, the user comments are pouring in and they’re all negative, and we know we have to post something out in response, but of course no one wants to do it. Well, there was a pack of cards in the tea room, so we got those and came up with this sort of knock-out snap game, and the loser was the one who had to post something on the website. So we’d do redesign for 15 minutes, then play a round of cards and each time the loser would post something about the latest location of the PDF link or tell people to go to the FAQs or something.”

    “Ah, that explains it, I thought it was weird the way that responses came in from so many people on a sort of random basis…”

    “Yeah, well you can tell who the worst card players are! Anyway, so we’re on the fifth or sixth round of cards and it’s all getting rather raucous, when Hugh suddendly walks in…”

    “Uh oh”

    “Well he looks around and then in a very calm voice asks us if we really think that at this pivotal moment in the history of the Guardian crossword website…if we really think that the most appropriate response is to spend the morning playing cards”

    “Oh boy – a day to remember! So I guess you won’t be thinking about the 2011 revamp for a few more weeks…”

  67. sandra coleman says:


    many thanks indeed. i had originally clicked back as quickly as possible, so as to avoid seeing the detail. i was so cross that i threw in the towel. thanks to you i can have another go. weekend restored!
    must be ages since we had an araubetical (wish i could remember who coined that word). come to think about it, i haven’t done one online before. though i am a relative newcomer to 15/2, and i did the paper version (though late) before then.

    thank you again.

  68. FumbleFingers says:

    Another nice one, Lenny! Nothing like kicking ‘em when they’re down, eh?

    Me, I’m inclined to think having an araubetical so soon after the revamp means TG is effectively suffering self-inflicted wounds right now. And with all due respect to the great man himself, I don’t really think this is one of his better ones anyway.

  69. stiofain says:

    sandra araubetical was coined by muck

  70. sandra coleman says:

    thank you stiofain, for reminding me of that. and special thanks to muck. perfect description.

  71. sandra coleman says:

    i think you are right fumblefingers. i am sure i would not have run into the trouble i did, otherwise. suspect i was subconciously expecting trouble.

    can’t comment on the puzzle as i am going to do that today – i was heartily sick of it all yesterday. and it definitely takes me longer to do now.

  72. sandra coleman says:

    ps sick of the situation, i meant. not the puzzle – haven’t done it yet!

  73. Derek Lazenby says:

    BTW people, it would seem that pressing TAB steps you to the next clue and SHIFT TAB steps you to the previous clue. A rare good thing!!!

    If you change focus by clicking on say the Check button then before you hit TAB you need to first click in the yellow area of the current clue, otherwise TAB has it’s normal Windows function of stepping to the next button.

    Hope that helps.

  74. Derek Lazenby says:

    Further research shows that it regards the clues as a sequence Across then Down, so you can get from the last Across to the first down and vica versa. However the first across and last down are the ends of the sequence. Pity, wrapping round would have been nice.

  75. sandra coleman says:

    did anyone else notice that the observer reverted to the old format today? it started with the new one.

  76. sandra coleman says:

    azed too, but i didn’t look at it until the everyman had changed back.

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