I’ve been a member of the ACA (American Cryptogram Association) for about a year now. I started out solving Aristocrats and Patristocrats with pen and paper. It was definitely a slow start as trial and error created a lot of eraser dust on my desk. Being a programmer by trade, my brain instantly sees how I could speed up the process using computers and programming. Now, I didn’t want to ruin the sense of accomplishment that I got when I solved my first Aristocrat by hand by making the computer just do all the work for me. It has taken much constraint for me not to write an automatic solver. The happy medium I found was with computer assisted solving. Let the computer do all the tedious manual labor and let my mind work on the actual solving process and techniques.
I started writing my own interactive solver about a month after I joined the ACA and I wanted to share my experience with others. Hopefully, someone will find this information useful or it might inspire them to delve into cryptography or programming.