Sudoku Assistant - The Sudoku Trainer and Solver

My Mini Blog

No Major Updates So Far... 10/2006

OK, well the first thing to say is that I'm changing the order of these few blog posts so that the most recent is first. If you've not visitied us before, please scroll to the bottom of the page and read each section from the bottom up! (Links on the left take you to the posts).

Well, I just wanted to let you know that I'm not forgetting Sudoku Assistant. For the purpose of a cohesive narrative, please pretend that the 'missus has had octuplets'. To be honest, one of the things that has been holding up development is a lack of feedback, or even interest in our mailing list. So if you have used the software, we'd be really grateful if you would let us know what you think, using the contact page here, or the information in the README.txt file in the program directory, after installing the software.

In fact, everything that has been happening with Sudoku Assistant recently has all been 'behind the scenes' stuff that will hopefully make it easier to add new things one day. We've only had one issue reported to us so far, that turned out to be an incomplete implementation of one of the solving routines... but that is on the list to be fixed. This particular issue only appears in the very hardest puzzles, and will not stop Sudoku Assistant solving puzzles; but it will stop it solving it in the same way that the cleverest humans will. Still, you can't expect me to be able to think like a human all the time.

By the way, if you want to read my real blog, please do check out www.kebabShopBlues.co.uk - it's mostly about computer related stuff, and mostly serious (ish). But it's not really about programming so hopefully it's not totally inaccessible to a non-programmer.

Version 1 Released - 03/2006

Well, I wasn't very controlled about the whole 'get a release out' thing, so the full version 1 has taken a bit longer to come than I had hoped. I guess I've been more used to trying to keep the crab in the pot, as it were, than let it scuttle free!

Still, the good news is that there are lots more features that have been added to the software than would have been possible otherwise! Please see the Downloads page for instructions on getting the software, and (if you have not already been there) check out the Features page!

And the website has been updated with enhanced discussions of the various solving techniques that come with some really pretty use of CSS, in my opinion... though it is straining to cope with some of the things we have to attempt to show visually. In due course, I probably will add in some screen-shots for the Tutorial Hints from the software because after all, I do want people to use and download the software!

So overall, I'm very happy with this release... in particular that the program, windows help system and the website are really pretty thorough I think. The latter two are so easy to miss! There is still more to be done, and the ideas for developments are still flowing thick and fast. I hope that you enjoy the software too!

A Story of Writing a Sudoku Program - 01/2006

Hi There! My name is Charley, and I'm the Chocolate Octopus. I saw my first Sudoku puzzle about a year ago now, and I quickly became very interested in solving them. Counting up to 9 provided some issues at first, as I am more used to counting to 8 - but in the end I realised that if I counted my head as well as counting my tentacles, I got to 9 easily after all!

Very soon after my first puzzle, I started thinking about writing a computer program that could solve them for me... or for anyone else.

Unfortunately, I got tied up by scientists who wanted to test my intelligence - the cheek! They put me in underwater mazes to see if I could learn them, and were amazed by my ability to squeeze through tiny holes! But my dreams lay near other shores...

Anyway, so when I finally got freed from my commitments to science, I set about writing a little program. I hadn't done any serious programming for quite a while and I thought that it would be a cool little project to get back in the swing of things. Hey, well it didn't take me too long to write a text-only program that solved a lot of puzzles. And then I heard about a programming language called C# - and I took the momentous decision to learn it and try to make my program work in Windows. Sheesh - That was a lot of work! I had so much to learn... which was great, but it also took a lot of time and I kept getting interrupted!

You know, in my youth I was very fickle and I would have just thought 'Hey, I can do that' and just stopped, even though I hadn't actually created a finished product! In the end I realised that this was a challenge for me, to create a functional Windows project that I was going to finish. I had hopes of creating a high-quality program that, maybe one day I might be able to sell for a few pounds a time. But then, blow me, I surfaced, looked at this internetwork, and found out this was going to be yet another Sudoku program. I've gotta tell you, I was shocked!

For a start, some people think Trial and Error solving is OK - I think smart Sudoku types could help solve problems like Global Warming, World Peace, and most importantly, a shortage of Fish!

But, when I looked in more detail, I got my hopes up because actually, there are lots of programs that will create Sudoku puzzles, there are lots out there that simply provide you a canvas on which to solve a puzzle yourself, but not many that actually guide you through solving step-by-step.

So, anyway, some of my delusions have been shattered but I do hope that my program fulfils some of my goals, even just in the Beta version. Hey, I know there are lots of things that can be (and will be) improved.

And one important decision has been made. The base version of the program will be free and will remain free.