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Tips and Tricks

Below are some tips and tricks that can be useful to simplify your designs, speed up the designing and/or solving process, or can be used as workarounds for some limitations of BURRTOOLS. We encourage the reader to share his own tips and tricks with us so that we can incorporate them in a future update of this document.

Voxel State and Size Tips

State and Solver Speed
The greater the proportion of variable voxels in the result shape, the slower the solver will run. Also, the number of pieces has an impact on the solving time. Hence, replacing variable voxels with empty spaces for known holes in the puzzle is to be considered. Also, leaving out a piece in complex packing puzzles (and making its position empty in the result) can reduce the solving time considerably.

Size and Solver Speed
The size of the shapes has an effect on the solving speed, since bigger shapes inevitably lead to more possibilities: for a 1x1x1 cube there's only one possible placement in a 2x2x2 grid (excluding symmetries), but for a 2x2x2 cube there are four of them in a 4x4x4 grid. So trying to minimise all shapes with the 1:1 tool before taking the puzzle to the solver is highly recommended for complex designs.

Complete sets
Often complete sets of pieces (e.g. the hexacubes in HAUBRICH'S CUBE) can be easily made by repeatedly copying the current shape and editing it with the properties of left and right clicking.

A detailed treatment of some symmetry issues will be added to the next update of this document.

Colouring Tips

Colouring Shapes
Colouring shapes as a whole is easily done with the brush tool in combination with the rectangle dragging style and z-columns switched on.

Aesthetic Colours
When colours are used solely for aesthetic reasons, make sure that the result shape has only the default colour. This will prevent having to set a lot of constraint conditions.

One-Sided Polyominoes
Polyominoes can be made one-sided by having them two layers thick and adding different constraint colours to the two layers. The constraint settings (→ ColourConstraints) should simply be a 'one-to-one' relationship.

Hiding Pieces
For puzzles in which the goal is to hide a certain piece on the inside of the assembly (e.g. Trevor Wood's WOODWORM), two constraint colours should be used in the result shape: one for the exterior and one for the voxels on the inside and one for those on the outside. Also colour the piece that must be hidden with the 'inside' colour, and apply the 'outside' colour to all other pieces. The constraint settings (→ ColourConstraints) must then be such that the piece to be hidden is allowed to go only into the 'inside' colour, while the other pieces may go into either colour.

Marks On Shapes
Colours can also be helpful to give orientation on pieces. When trying to add additional voxels to a given shape add them with a new constraint colour. This way you will easily find it again. Once everything is done remove the colour from the colour list and the marks will be gone as well.

Also having marks on the pieces will ease orientation between the transformed piece in the solution and the original piece in the piece editor.

Finally marks will help other people understanding how pieces are made. If you generate pieces by merging 2 shapes you could colourize one shape so that other people quickly see the construction rule (see the Broken Sticks puzzle in the examples ).

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