Every Chess blogger and publisher must at one time grapple with the same issue: how to create and display diagrams and games. I have explored and tried a few options, including the pgn4web and chessup.net tools (at time of writing chessup.net server is down). A more detailed list is provided by Michael Goeller's Kenilworthian, among others. Here, I will recount how I came to develop my own, offline solution, an Excel file that converts FEN to chess diagrams.
For a time, I thought I had settled upon using the Chessup.net server, in which I could simply put a FEN string into the URL for the image, and viola, I would have chess diagrams on my site. However, it was unsettling to realized that when their servers went down, so did all the diagrams on my site. I should have saved each image and uploaded them. Even if I had done this, however, the failure of their service would mean that I would need to change the style of diagrams on my blog.
I value consistency when it comes to the appearance of these blog posts. Thus, I began to search for a more reliable, offline solution. However, since I use a Mac. I was found wanting for programs to quickly turn FEN strings into diagrams. My solution: make my own tool to accomplish the same end. I'm a bit of an excel guru, if you might have guessed from my Mutual Information articles (part 1 and 2). Naturally, I chose this program to craft my solution.
Here, I will make available the excel workbook that I have setup to generate all the new diagrams on the site. In order for this tool to work, you must have the Chess Cases font. I will provide the workbook in two different Excel formats: .xlsx, and .xls
Feel free to use this tool as you see fit. I would appreciate a mention if you use it for your site. If you do use it, experience problems, or have suggestions for improvement, I'd love to hear from you. Just drop a comment below!
Read on for more detailed instructions on how to use the Excel Chess Diagram tool. If you are trying to accomplish something special, or need some additional help, I may be able to give you a hand; simply post your inquiry as a comment.