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Online multiplayer Scrabble with HTML/JavaScript UI


This repository contains the code for a multiplayer Scrabble game. I have written it because my wife and I got increasingly frustrated by the sluggish Web 1.0 interface that provides. Coming up with something better was on my To-Do-List for years, but I never found enough time to get a decent board UI implemented, and The Pixie Pit served us well enough through those years.

Much to my pleasure, I stumbled over one day, which implemented the interactive parts of a Scrabble board in a very nice manner. The implementation was lacking the game logic and server parts, though, so I decided to fork the project and add the missing pieces.

Little of the original board code is left now, but I owe the original author, Daniel Weck, lots of kudos for getting CSS and Drag&Drop under control. Without his work, I'd not be able to get the game to run. I also owe an apology for ripping his code apart and removing the dictionary functionality, as we are playing without a dictionary and want to keep it that way.


  • Two to four players
  • German, English and French letter sets
  • Written in JavaScript, runs in browser
  • Scalable user interface
  • Desktop notification support
  • Moderate sound effects
  • Tile placement by clicking, drag&drop or keyboard entry
  • Chat
  • Standard Scrabble rules including "Challenge" with simple penalty
  • No dictionary enforced
  • Player online status display
  • Participation in multiple games from one browser possible
  • Uses node.js on the server
  • No database required, no deployment complexities


  • Human players only. No computer players are available.
  • No dictionary. Any word can be entered.
  • No security. The server uses sufficiently long random numbers as keys for games and players to make guessing a key impossible. The game and player keys are enough to join the game and make moves, though.
  • Limited browser support. We're using Chrome and Firefox and I am not testing on other browsers.
  • Unlicensed. "Scrabble" is a registered trademark by Hasbro and Spear, and the word is used in this program without permission.
  • Bugs. There are some minor (and maybe even some major) bugs which I have not come around to fix yet, and maybe never will.
  • Ugly code. I did not understand much of the original code when I started adding features, and did not refactor thoroughly in the course of action. There are several things in the code that I'd do differently now, but as the game works well enough as it is, I'm not doing it. If you want to hack this code, expect a high WTF rate.
  • Ugly UI. Daniel's original work was very nice-looking, and my additions to the user interface can't compete with what he did.
  • UI not translated. The user interface is available in English, only.
  • Simple database. All game data is kept in memory and serialized to a JSON log using the node-dirty database system. This works well, but has limited capacity and the database file grows without bounds.

As I am not planning to provide the game as a public service, but rather run it for me and my friends to use, these limitations do not bother me. If you look at the game, please consider that it is a game meant to be played between friends, not an Internet service open to the general public.

Future changes

I am open to patch submissions as long as the playability of the game is preserved. In particular, we want no dictionary matching, fast next game creation, no passwords, keyboard operability. I also want zero-effort deployment (i.e. no mandatory dependency on a database server).

It would be somewhat nice to grow the game into a public service, but there is a lot of work left towards that goal, and I don't intend to make such an effort given the uncertain licensing issues. If you want to deal with the legal aspects, let me know.


The game uses node.js as server and depends on some npm packages. It can itself be installed using npm:

$ npm install html-scrabble


Settings can be be changed by the way of a configuration file which must be named 'config.js' and placed in the main html-scrabble directory. The default configuration file is included as config-default.json. It can be copied to config.js and then edited.

By default, the server starts on port 9093 and uses the smtp server running on the local host to send out game invitation emails. The invitation emails contain the "localhost" in the URL, so they will only work for a browser running on the same machine as the server.

As a minimum, the baseUrl and mailSender configuration properties should be changed. Furthermore, if you are not running an SMTP server on your server, you need to set the mailTransportConfig appropriately. Please refer to nodemailer documentation for information on how to configure nodemailer.

Protecting the game list

If you deploy your Scrabble server in the Internet, you may want to protect your game list so that pranksters can't mess up your games. You can do so by adding a gameListLogin property to your configuration like so:

    "gameListLogin": {
        "username": "foo",
        "password": "bar"

Note that this is meant as a light protective measure. Do not use a password that you use elsewhere. Thank you for observing all safety measures.


Once you're satisfied with the configuration, you can start the game server using

$ npm start html-scrabble

Open your web browser on the configured game URL to create a new game.

If you have trouble getting the server to run, feel free to contact me. Be aware, though, that you will need a machine to run the server on (I'm using my Mac, but FreeBSD or Linux will work as well) and have some command line knowledge. I cannot help you if you don't know your way through the shell and development tools.

Enjoy, Hans (