Discovery PuzzleMaker vs. Windows 7

When working IT at a school you get a lot of requests for a lot of strange software installations from a lot of teachers. Sometimes these requests can be for software that did it’s job so perfectly a decade ago that no one ever spent the time and money to improve it. Such was the case with PuzzleMaker by Discovery Education. This software allows educators to easily develop vocabulary puzzles such as crosswords and, ten years after it’s original release, version 1.0 is still rocking the crossword puzzling world today.

Installation

Yesterday one of my teachers asked me to install PuzzleMaker on his shiny new Windows 7 x64 workstation. The install was surprisingly simple. I didn’t have to use any compatibility settings or shims to get it to run. After the install I noticed that the icon it created required administrative privileges to run, so I created a new shortcut to the PuzzleMaker executable and got to work.

The Problem

Problems arose when the teacher tried to open a puzzle. He would get an “overflow” error and that’s literally all it said: “Overflow.” I tested the software by installing and running it on a fresh installation of Windows 7 x86 as well as x64.  PuzzleMaker ran flawlessly on both so I started looking for incompatibilities on the instructor’s PC.  That’s when I noticed that as soon as you open a puzzle it generates a Print Preview

The Solution

If you get a completely unexplainable Overflow error when opening a file in PuzzleMaker, try changing your default printer.  PuzzleMaker will use the settings from your default printer to render the preview, and if it doesn’t like your printer, it won’t open the file correctly.  Once I switched the teacher’s default printer from his wide-format Xerox Phaser to a run-of-the-mill black-and-white LaserJet, PuzzleMaker ran fine.