Chess replay utilities synopsis

Introduction

When I began to design my web page I was on the lookout for a pgn viewer. It should

  • display variations, textual annotations and NAGs (informant symbols),
  • support UTF 8
  • provide a well drawn board.

I have installed all viewers that I could find around the whole Internet and compared the features.

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Results

Synoptic table

Project nameView exampleInput formatsLinesInformant symbolsText annotationsTraining exercisesAutoreplayLive broadcastManufactererThird party serviceLast updateLicenseLanguage
Canvas Chess 0.1.0view demoPGNyespartiallyyesnononoRyan Cook, Yury Markushin, Patrick Horganno2016freeJavaScript
Chess Viewer Toolview demoPGNnonoyesnononoCaissa’s Webyes?freeJavaScript
Chess Assistant 10view demoPGN, CBH, CAyespartiallyyesnoyesnoConvektano?fee required (part of Chess Assistant)JavaScript
ChessBase readerview demoPGN, FENyesyesyesyesyesyesChessbase GmbHyes2016freeJavaScript (jQuery)
ChessBase 12 viewerview demoPGN, CBH, CBF, CBONE, FENyesyesyesnononoChessbase GmbHyes2013fee required (part of ChessBase >= 12 and CB Reader 2013)JavaScript (jQuery)
ChessBase HTML Publisher 2.0view demoPGN, CBH, CBF, CBONE, FENyesyes, but poorly displayedyesnoyesnoChessBase GmbHno?fee required (part of ChessBase 8 – ChessBase 11 and several Fritz releases)JavaScript
Chess Tempo PGN viewerview demoPGN, position editoryesincompletelyyesnoyesnoChess Tempoyes?free (CC BY-NC-ND)JavaScript
ChessTutor™ 2.7.1m1view demoPGN, PGZno$1–$6 onlynonononoEduardo Suasteguino2000freeJava
Chess Viewer Deluxe 3.5view demoPGNyesas textyesyesnonoNikolai Pilafovno2009freeJava
DGT Chesstheatre 1.22view demoPGNyesyes, partially as textyesnononoDGT B.V.no2009freeFlash video
DHTML Chess 3.0view demoPGNyesnoyesyesyesyesAlf Magne Kallelandno2017free (non-commercial), fee required (commercial)JavaScript, PHP, MySQL
DHTML Chess 2.0view demoPGNyesyesnot parsed correctlyyesyesyesAlf Magne Kallelandno2012free (LGPL, non-commercial), fee required (commercial)JavaScript, PHP, MySQL
Eitschess Live Broadcasting Chess Viewer 1.0jview demoPGNas textnoyesnonoyesFelix Fürnhammerno2017free (GNU Free Documentation License)JavaScript
HTML Chess 1.0 rev. 8view demoPGNno (parser error)no (ignored)no (parser error)noyesnoStefano Gioffréno2010freeJavaScript
ICC viewer 2.1view demoPGNas textnoyesnononoAndrew Goveyes1999freeJava
iChess v. 1.2view demoPGNyesnoyesnononoGameknotyes2009freeJavaScript
jsPgnViewer 0.7.1view demoPGNprinted as textpartiallyyesyesnonoToomas Römerno2010free (Apache license)JavaScript
KnightVision Chess PGN Viewerview demoPGNyespartiallyyesnononoGlenn Wilsonyes2013freeFlash Video
LT-PGN-VIEWER 3.4view demoPGNyesnoyesnoyesyesLutz Tautenhahnno2010free (Apache license)JavaScript
Misty Beach PGN Viewer V2.12view demoPGNnonononononoMisty Beach Software Organizationno1998free (non-commercial), fee required (commercial)Java
Montreux Chessgame Viewer 4.37view demoPGN, MDFyesyesyesnononoJBF Software (J. P. Hendriks)no2008free (non-commercial)Java
MyChessViewer 2.2view demoPGNyesas textyesyesnonoMichael Keatingno2006freeJava
Palview 4view demoPGNyesyes, but poorly displayedyesyesyesyesAndrew Templeton, Eric Bentzenno2003freeJavaScript
PGN Readerview demoPGNyesno (parsing error)yesyesnonoKevin Coulombeno2007?Java
pgn2html 2.0view demoPGNyesincompletelyyesyesnonoWerner Müllerno2003free (non-commercial)JavaScript
pgn4web 3.04view demoPGNyesyesyesyesyesyesPaolo Casaschino2019free (GPL)JavaScript
PGNtoJS V.3.31view demoPGNyesyesyesnononoUwe Auerswald (†2008)no2002freeJavaScript
PgnVierJS 0.9.8view demoPGNyespartiallyyesnononoMarkus Liebeltno2019free (Apache License 2.0)JavaScript
SCID 4.6.4view demoPGNyespartiallyyesnononoSCIDno2014free (GPL)JavaScript
Scid vs. PC 4.16view demoPGNyespartiallyyesnononoSteven Atkinsonno2015free (GPL)JavaScript
Sjkbase 1.1view demoPGN, EPD, FENprinted as textmostly printed as textyesnononoOdd Gunnar Malinno1999freeJava

The following solutions cannot be shown here for licensing reasons or lack of a download link:

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And the winner is …

In older versions of this document I recommended pgn4web due to its high flexibility. The main drawback nowadays is that it is not optimized for display on mobile devices which has become very important. The only viewer that is capable of this is the ChessBase reader. So you should use it definitely. There is simply no reasonable alternative at present.

Another very ambitious project is DHTML-Chess that aims to provide a full database interface where you can input games, but at the time being it seems not fully production ready to me.

Please avoid viewers written in Java. They were necessary in the days when JavaScript was slow and little standardised. Today Java is often disabled in browsers due to security flaws and all the referring projects are abandoned for years. The same holds for Flash video based software now. Pure JavaScript viewers only are state of the art today.

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