Managing space and moving around

Allocating space on the puzzle table

When you create or restart a puzzle, the pieces are shuffled and placed randomly into grid locations on the puzzle table. Two settings affect the space required, see Game Configuration for a list of settings provided via SettingsConfigure Palapeli... or, on Apple OS X, PalapeliPreferences....

The spacing of pieces in puzzle grids can be set from 1.0 to 1.5 times the height and width of the highest and widest pieces. Smaller settings pack the pieces into the view better, but larger ones allow more space for dragging, dropping and rubberbanding. The default is 1.3, but 1.1 is very workable in large puzzles. The setting applies to puzzles of all sizes, and also affects grids used with piece-holders (see Using piece-holders) or when re-arranging pieces automatically on the puzzle table, using MoveRearrange pieces (R).

The other setting provides space on the puzzle table of exactly the right size for building your solution. The default is for it to appear in the center, with the pieces distributed evenly around the outside. On average, this should put the pieces closest to where they have to go eventually. You can also choose to use any of the four corners or have no space (option None), in which case you have to clear space manually, perhaps by expanding the puzzle table area (see Basic moves). The solution space setting affects puzzles down to 20 pieces, but with fewer than 20 pieces solution spaces are pointless.

As the puzzle solution progresses, pieces move into the solution area and leave spaces elsewhere. It may be helpful to pack the remaining pieces closer together. If so, select some pieces using rubberbanding or Ctrl and left mouse button, then use MoveRearrange pieces (R) or simply the shortcut key (default R). The pieces are packed into a grid and remain selected, so that they can be easily moved to a better position, if required. This is also a way to gather together pieces with some common attribute, but using piece-holders is more powerful.

Fast zooming between close-up and distant view

When a puzzle is loaded, Palapeli calculates distant and close-up views and displays the distant view, which shows the entire puzzle table area. The close-up view shows pieces at a convenient viewing size for your eyes and your screen and desktop. Use the middle mouse button to switch quickly between the two views, at a location where the mouse is pointing. Then you can home in quickly on any piece in the puzzle table and see what shape it is and what part of the picture it contains.

You can adjust the scale of either view by zooming manually and your setting will be remembered next time you switch the view by using the middle mouse button. Puzzles of all sizes have the fast zooming feature, but in puzzles with less than 100 pieces the two views are almost the same as each other. In other words, the pieces are easy to see when you view the whole puzzle table.

Moving around in a large puzzle

The hard way to move pieces in a large puzzle is to select them and then alternately drag the pieces and the puzzle table (left mouse button and right mouse button) until you get to your destination. A much easier way to do the same thing is to select the pieces, zoom to distant view (middle mouse button, see above), drag the pieces to the destination in one move (left mouse button) and then zoom to close-up view (middle mouse button). This is also a good way to retrieve a single stray piece, but dragging that tiny piece across the puzzle table, without losing the selection, can be tricky if there are thousands of pieces.

Another way to navigate and search the puzzle table systematically is to zoom in on the top left corner (middle mouse button), then use the empty spaces in the scroll bars to step through the table horizontally or vertically, one fixed-size page at a time. This technique is very effective when you are using piece-holders to collect pieces you are looking for. If you keep the close-up scale fixed and always start at the same place, you will always get pages of fixed size and contents.

Visibility of pieces in large puzzles

In large jigsaw puzzles on a small screen it can be hard to see what you are doing. For example, with a 10,000 piece puzzle on a 1440 by 900 screen, the pieces in the distant view of the puzzle table are about 7 pixels across. At this scale, it is hard to see picture, color, piece-shape or even highlighting.

Palapeli has always had a choice of backgrounds and background colors and that helps visibility. Added to these is a more prominent highlighting scheme, which appears if you do not choose shadowing, and a setting to choose the color of the highlight, to contrast with the background and most pieces. Also these settings are now saved and restored with each puzzle. So each puzzle can have the background and highlighting that best suits its overall picture. It is worth experimenting with settings when you create a large puzzle, but you may need to reload or restart the puzzle before all changes can take effect.