Chess games replay - webmaster tools
As I am fairly often asked questions like what should I do to publish chess games on my website, here is my list of links and comments. The list is short on purpose.
In my opinion - preferred choice. Those viewers are faster and more pleasant to use (for readers) than Java or Flash tools.
Note: this method does not quite work when you need to load the games from the database, generate them dynamically, update frequently etc.
As I do not own ChessBase, I can't offer detailed suggestions.
PalView was probably the first high-quality application of this kind. Now it is slightly dated, but still very useful. And it is free.
PalView has excellent documentation. It is worth reading even if you finally decide to use another tool, a lot of information about web chess publishing is contained there.
Finally, one must mention that PalView output is very customizable. You can pick one of many layouts, views, images and fonts. See PalView Demo Page for some examples.
Surely it is the app to look at if your needs exceed bare publishing of the game (or a games list) as the whole page.
Exporting games in HTML format is becoming the standard feature of chess editors and databases, so other tools are also able to do it. Chess Assistant introduced HTML exports a few versions ago, generated pages used to be very poor but there are rumours they were significantly improved since Chess Assistant 9. Whichever chess database/editor you use, examine menus, you may find some HTML export here or there. For simple publishing it may suffice.
Also, there are some more PalView-like freeware or shareware tools which I omit as they are clearly worse. One which may be worth a look is PgnToJs.
The following viewers are able to preview the games online (convert them while viewed). You prepare the page and configure the viewer once, and then just publish bare PGN files. The viewer code is parsing the PGN file and displaying it in a pretty way.
This is especially useful if games are to be dynamically loaded from some database, if huge number of games is to be published, if games are to be updated/added frequently, if site presentation or layout is to change frequently, or if for any other reason you don't fancy exporting every game manually.
LT-PGN Viewer is a tool I personally use. Have you ever replayed WatchBot game? You used LT-PGN Viewer (well, slightly patched one).
There are a lot of functions in LT-PGN Viewer. Apart from chess it is able to replay Chess960 games. It can let you setup the position online, publish chess problems, generate tournament crosstables, and more. It may be configured to handle comments, let readers input variations, or even whole games (if you provide backend to save what users entered). And more.
- Unpack LT-PGN Viewer distribution into some directory on your website and configure your web server so it serves it (it would more or less create clone of the author's website there, later you can remove unnecessary files). Let's say you published it as http://my.website.com/viewer/, check whether http://my.website.com/viewer/pgnviewer.html opens correctly.
- Publish PGN files somewhere on your website (using .txt extension is recommended to avoid accidental chess apps spawning to open the file). Let's say one of those files is available as http://my.website.com/pgnfiles/abcd1234.txt
- To link to such game, use URL like http://my.website.com/viewer/ltpgnviewer.html?/pgnfiles/abcd1234.txt&ParsePgn=2
Then start exploring the examples and code to find your way to the true solution.
Chess Tempo author (it is a problem solving website) published his own viewer. I haven't used it myself, but the project seems interesting. If I were to pick the viewer today, it could be my first choice.
Note that this viewer can be only used on non-commercial web sites.
Pgn4Web is yet another promising viewer. Apart from the viewer itself, author provides plugins for WordPress, Joomla and MediaWiki and hints for using the viewer on many other blogs and forums.
Pgn4Web website provides also online generator of diagrams to make preparing and publishing them easier. It is also possible to publish games using scripts hosted on their website, without installing anything.
The viewer is open source (GPL) so usable in most contexts.
I hate Java applets, they always load very slowly, crash my browser every few runs and for some reason tend to have ugly interfaces. But, well, your opinion may differ. And they are usually easy to use for the webmaster.
To review a wide set of examples, visit ChessGames, open any game, scroll page down and experiment with options in Java Viewer dropdown. They are providing quite a few popular Java viewers. Those viewers are also available for other webmasters.
Just in case, here is the list of viewers available on ChessGames:
Some other options:
- Montreux (fairly new and feature-rich)
- ICC Chess Viewer (provided by ICC)
I should have probably reduced this list to 1-2 best options, but I hate them all...
Finally, there are some Flash viewers available. As a user I used to hate Flash pages almost as much as Java applets, but recently they are improving.
Although there are a few Flash chess viewers available, only one is really worth looking at (and is, in fact, very nice):
- ChessTheatre (by DGT)