Version 4.1.4 for PalmOS

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The new release of Crosswords for PalmOS, version 4.1.4, is now shipping. This release includes bug fixes as well as the following major new features. It shipped on January 21, 2006.

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Features new to Crosswords 4.1

Faster on ARM Palms
Until a couple of years ago, all Palm devices ran on 68K processors from Motorola, and so all Palm apps had to be compiled for this processor. More recent devices (those running OS 5.0 and later) can be based on much faster ARM processors, but for backwards compatibility PalmSource makes it possible for apps written for the 68K to run, and in fact it remains a bit tricky to write "native" ARM apps -- apps that are built to run on ARM directly.
68K apps run much more slowly than native ARM apps, and so Crosswords 4.1 adds the ability to run native. It is about 10 times faster, a difference that's particularly obvious when the hint or robot features are in use.
Since Crosswords must still be able to run on older 68K Palms, the 68K part remains. The fact that there are essentially two apps in the .prc file makes it much bigger -- 240K instead of the 100K 68K-only Crosswords requires. Right now there are three builds to choose from -- 68K only, ARM only, and both.
New dictionary format
In order to support the BYOD website for building custom Crosswords dictionaries I had to change the form these dictionaries take on Palm. Crosswords 4.1 cannot open old-format dictionaries, but can convert them to the new format, and will offer to do so every time it is launched. You can decline the offer, and Crosswords 4.1 will still run as long as it can find at least one new-format dictionary on your device.
New-format dictionaries, including converted old-format ones, will be invisible to versions of Crosswords prior to 4.1.
New DAWGShow
There's now a new version of the Crosswords dictionary browser DAWGShow that can read the new dictionary format. Get it here. Read about it here.
Support for high-res screens
The original Palms had 160x160 screens, but most newer models have 320x320 or even larger displays. Crosswords 4.1 begins to take advantage of this by drawing thinner lines and with crisper-looking fonts. In fact, there is no longer any need for a scrollbar on high-res devices: you can see the entire 15x15 board and your tray at the same time.
Picking tiles face up
If you check the "Allow pick tiles" checkbox in the Preferences dialog then each time Crosswords assigns tiles to your tray you'll get a chance to pick them from this dialog.
(To prevent cheating using this feature I've made it impossible to turn it off once a game starts.)
This feature has been requested by folks who want to use Crosswords to solve newspaper wordgame puzzles and to re-create board layouts for study.
Restricting hint searches
If you check the "Local hints" checkbox in the Preferences dialog then you'll be able to use the "Limited hint" item on the "Move" menu and you'll be able to draw hint-limiting rectangles on the board.
The "Limited hint" item brings up the dialog at right. The hint feature will only produce possible moves that use that numbers of tiles you specify.
To draw the hint-limited rectangle, use the stylus to draw a rectangle from one of the upper corners to the opposite lower corner. (Drawing in an upwards direction clears the rectangle.) The hint feature will then only produce possible moves where all of the tiles placed fall within that rectangle. In the image at right, the rectangle is being used to restrict moves to the same row in which the first move was placed.
This feature has been requested by folks who want to practice strategy. Sometimes, for example, you know that your best move probably lies in a certain region in order to block your opponent, and you don't want to wade through hundreds of moves all over the board when there are only a few you need to see.
Remaining tiles dialog
The "Remaining tiles" dialog displays a list of tiles left in play in a format favored by tournament Scrabble™ players: one letter per tile. Thus if there are five A tiles left, you will see A.A.A.A.A in the dialog.