Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Submit a puzzle

This page allows you to create your own RouteWord puzzles and -- if you feel adventurous -- submit them for possible publication.

  1. Enter a word and press "Create a RouteWord." You get a new layout each time you press the button -- it's kind of hypnotizing.
  2. Complete the rest of the puzzle fields. The name and location are optional, and are used for attribution if I run your puzzle. The clue is highly suggested. The "hidden letters" field allows you to increase the difficulty of the puzzle by masking the letters you enter with question marks ('?').
  3. Press "Submit for consideration" button.
  4. View past solutions
This page requires java Applets!
By pressing "Submit for consideration," you acknowledge that your submission is not currently under the copyright of anyone other than yourself (e.g., it's not from last week's NY Times Crossword puzzle!). You also agree that the submission becomes the exclusive property of Andrew Odewahn without remuneration to you and that it may be copied, distributed, or displayed with or without attribution in electronic, print, or any other form.
You don't have to put in an actual "word" -- the Applet will show the relationships in any string you submit. Here are a few interesting examples. Also, send in your own cool "words" and I'll post them (max length is 100 characters).
3-D Hexagon

Enclosed Star
(submitted by Julia)

Klingon Bird of Prey
(anonymous suggestion)
6 pointed star
(submitted by Sherri)

Optimized 6 pointed star
(submitted by Jeremy)

(submitted by Susan)
(submitted by Jeremy, MA)

Spider Web
(submitted by Wiggy, MA)

Bow Tie
(submitted by Dan W., Ohio)

(submitted by Shade, N.E.)

4 Tbs Butter for 1 Crustacean!
(submitted by Julia)

About RouteWord

I accidentally invented RouteWord while developing software to turn complex relationships between data into an easy-to-understand picture. As a quick way to assess the system, I used words, and the relationships between the letters in the word, as test data. This worked particularly well because I could always easily verify whether the system had accurately represented the relationships between the letters by tracing the correct spelling of the word through the diagram.

As my colleagues in technical fields can attest, friends and family often wonder what, exactly, you do all day at the office. In response, I often wound up showing these word diagrams to people to help make the abstractness of it all more concrete. Inevitably, I'd be in the middle of explaining my grandiose vision of creating software that would help provide a sophisticated analytic framework for understanding large quantities of relational data, and the person would interrupt: "Hey, the word 'utilitarian' looks like a rocket ship! Can we put in my name and see what comes out?" It was always the same story -- Rocket Ship 10, Analytical Framework, 0.

A proto-RouteWord

Finally, after a chemist friend enthusiastically noted "Wow, 'Austria' looks sort of like benzene," I decided that maybe there was more to the word diagrams than just their value as test data. Since people -- including non-chemists -- enjoyed trying to work out the word from the network of letters in the diagram, I thought it would make a good game. I added a clue, and voila, RouteWord was born.

The game went public with an article on the "O’Reilly Network" on Thanksgiving Day 2003 and has been growing ever since. Today, people from across the globe receive a daily e-mail puzzle and submit their own words and clues for possible publication. The community of RouteWorders, and the game itself, has grown more quickly than I ever thought possible, and I’m looking forward to where it goes next.


I've had lots of help with RouteWord, especially from:

  • the many people who have provided suggestions, comments, and encouragement that have made RouteWord a better game, especially: Anu Garg, Brian Hammond, Chris Denesha, Phillip Geer, Philippe Davadie, Jed Hartman, and "Sierra Madre" James
  • chromatic, Sarah Breen, Tara McGoldrick, Debby Russell and everyone else at O'Reilly for help in publishing the article on RouteWord that got the ball rolling
  • Christophe DeGregory at CGCraft for helping design the look and feel of this si

How to play

Find the route that reveals the word hidden inside the network of linked letters.

  • A clue and the number of letters in the solution word are provided.
  • Ignore double letters.
  • Letters may be hidden with a '?' for extra challenge.
  • You must use each link at least once.

Terms of use

The daily RouteWord puzzle is free for noncommercial use. The puzzle may be posted on school and library websites provided that all copyright and trademark notices are preserved.

Information Collection and Use. Andrew Odewahn is the sole owner of the information collected on this site. I will not share, sell, or rent this information to others in ways different from what is disclosed in this statement. I will not share, sell, or rent your e-mail address to any other party.

Daily Mailing List. An e-mail address is required to subscribe to the daily e-mail. I will not share, sell, or rent this list. I will use aggregate statistics in marketing or promotional material (e.g., list size, growth rate). I will use the newsletter to inform subscribers of RouteWord related announcements, including new RouteWord related products or services.

RouteWord Submissions. By submitting a puzzle for consideration, you acknowledge that your submission is not currently under the copyright of anyone other than yourself (e.g., it's not from last week's NY Times Crossword puzzle!). You also agree that the submission becomes the exclusive property of Andrew Odewahn without remuneration to you and that it may be copied, distributed, or displayed with or without attribution in electronic, print, or any other form.

Surveys. I may, from time to time, conduct RouteWord related surveys, either through the website or newsletter, or both. Participation in these surveys is voluntary.

Cookies. A cookie is a piece of data stored on the user’s hard drive containing information about the user. The site currently does not use cookies.

Log Files. I use IP addresses to analyze trends, administer the site, track users' movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Notification of Changes. If I change the privacy policy, I will post a notice on the Homepage so you will always know what information I collect, how I use it, and under circumstances, if any, I disclose it.


I'm always interested to hear people's thoughts, comments, or suggestions. Send me e-mail at
andrew at routeword dot com
(Sorry to type it out like that, but it's an ani-SPAM thing!) Oh, and by the way, my name is Andrew Odewahn, and I'm an author and software entrepreneur. I wrote Oracle Web Applications (1999) and co-authored Oracle PL/SQL Workbook (2000), both published by O'Reilly Media, the premier information source for leading-edge computer technologies and publisher of the well known "animal books" and "Missing Manuals." My professional interests focus on applying database technologies to create solutions to real world business problems. I also enjoy thinking about and commenting on the humorous or absurd aspects of technology, as in this funny article I wrote about online language translation services like Babel Fish. In 2002, I received an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business with concentrations in information systems and entrepreneurship. Whenever we can get away, my wife and I love to travel. Some of our favorite adventures include riding Lipizzaner stallions at a Slovenian casino, speeding down an alpine slide in the jungles of Vietnam, hosteling in a Soviet-era sanitarium, and skiing on Austria’s Stubai Glacier. We're also avid hikers, and our knees have survived trips including the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, the Haute Route through the French and Swiss Alps, and the Tongariro Northern Circuit up, over, and around New Zealand’s volcanic Mount Ngauruhoe (which stars as "Mount Doom" in The Lord of the Rings). We currently live in Portland, Maine.

Me on Tasmania's Overland Track.