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2.8 Assessing Fills using Grid Statistics

After adjusting the fill in the previous step, the answers should still be in the special color that shows they are uncommitted, as below:

Step 2.8 Initial Image

We will now look at the merits of this fill using the Grid Statistics dialog. This provides a lot of general information about the grid structure. You can also use it to assess the quality of the fills you have available before deciding which one to commit. This is useful both for Interactive Filling and Automatic Filling.

To open the Grid Statistics dialog, use the Statistics... command on the Grid menu. When the Grid Statistics dialog opens, click on the Dictionaries button in the Distribution section. The dialog should then appear something like this:

Step 2.8 Intermediate Image

The sections to the left show structural information about the grid, such as the number of rows and columns, and the total number of lights. Any underlined section can be clicked on to select the parts of the grid that contribute to that item of data.

The bar chart on the right shows other information depending on the options you select in Distribution and Order. You can resize the dialog by dragging an edge or a corner.

When you select Dictionaries the bar chart shows the number of uncommitted answers that have been taken from each of the dictionaries you have used for filling. In this case, 20 answers have come from Core English and 7 from Edited English (e.g. corniche had to be taken from the lower priority dictionary in Step 6).

Note that you can keep the Grid Statistics dialog open while you make changes in the Sympathy main window. For example, you can use the Previous Fill button (Filling|Previous Fill) and Next Fill button (Filling|Next Fill) buttons to assess multiple fills created with Automatic Filling.

We'll now look at a different metric of fill quality. Click on Letters in the Distribution section, and Frequency in the Order section. The dialog should then appear something like this:

Step 2.8 Final Image

This shows how often the different letters of the alphabet have been used in the grid. If the Order option is Natural, the letters are in alphabetical order, so it is easy to see which letters haven't been used. In Frequency order, the letters are shown in descending order of their number of uses.

Many compilers of blocked grid crosswords try to incorporate little-used letters such as J, Q and Z. The "commonality" settings on the Filling Properties Settings tab can be used to promote lower frequency letters during Automatic Filling, possibly at the expense of a longer filling time.

Note that if you click on a row of the bar chart, the parts of the grid that contribute to that row are selected. For example, if you clicked on the row for Z in the above chart, the two cells containing the letter Z would be selected.

When you have tried the various combinations of settings in the Grid Statistics dialog, click on Close to dismiss it. Then click Commit Fill button (Filling|Commit Fill) on the Filling Toolbar. This will make the uncommitted answers a permanent part of the grid, as if you had entered them using the keyboard. The grid should then appear as at the start of the next step (although the answers may be different).


Relevant Help Sections

Grid Statistics Dialog
Filling|Commit Fill Command

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Last updated: $Date: 2011/03/30 20:42:18 $
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