I celebrated Father's Day this weekend with my wife's parents. While there, I spent a frustrating and unsuccessful 15 minutes looking for one of the few remaining words in a giant word search my father-in-law was working on. We found out later by checking online that there was an error and the word wasn't even present in the puzzle!
Much more enjoyable was the hour or so we spent doing a virtual tour of Malta using Google Earth. My father-in-law was born there and we had great fun zooming in with the aerial views finding the house where he lived, the church where he was baptized, etc. We were also able to easily see wonderful pictures of the many famous churches and natural features like the Blue Grotto. It's a beautiful and fascinating place and I'd love to visit sometime.
Well, the ideas of Malta, word search puzzles, and the usual mishmash from my coding projects mixed together in my brain while I was sleeping and I woke up early realizing I could easily write a tool to create 'Shaped Word Search Puzzles'. Basically, I can take a template image and a list of words and automatically construct a word search puzzle shaped and coloured to match the image.
The first example is below and uses a Maltese Cross with a list of words related to Malta. Most of the words are place names but there are a few other things mixed in as well. For example, Pastizzi are one of my favourite Maltese foods.