Red Sweater Blog Official blog of Red Sweater Software Wed, 18 Nov 2015 23:03:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Black Ink 1.6.3: Download Older Puzzles Wed, 18 Nov 2015 20:10:15 +0000 Black Ink 1.6.3 is now available from the Black Ink home page, and has been submitted to the Mac App Store for review by Apple.

Black Ink has always supported downloading of puzzles from a (diminishing) variety of online puzzle sources. This makes it easy to grab the latest puzzle from any of a few popular sources, and start solving immediately. A drawback to this functionality however is that if you miss a puzzle, because for example you didn’t have time last week, then you have to go to the web and manually download the puzzle file from the archives.

Starting with Black Ink 1.6.3, a minor change in the way it downloads puzzles should put an end to that hassle. Now, if Black Ink notices that it already has a copy of a given puzzle, it will skip that one and look back in time for a previous puzzle that has not already been downloaded.

So if you finish a puzzle and want to open another one to work on immediately, just try choosing the same puzzle source again, and see what Black Ink can find.

This update also includes some minor bug fixes. Here is the complete list of changes:

  • Black Ink will now try to download an earlier puzzle if the latest puzzle from a source is already downloaded
  • Fix an issue that could cause NYT login to fail repeatedly even with good login info
  • Switch to using Helvetica consistently across the board for printout text


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Quick Post With MarsEdit Mon, 02 Nov 2015 15:00:45 +0000 Andy Ihnatko is giving MarsEdit a spin, and had some good feedback for me with respect to a specific blogging workflow he’s trying to achieve. In short: he wants something more Twitter-like to dash off thoughts and publish them directly to a blog.

What I really want is a system-wide hotkey. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, tapping it causes a little note card window to pop up. I type a few sentences, maybe click a Twitter-style icon button to drop in a photo or paste in a link (which the app automatically grabs from the frontmost browser window), click the “Post” button, and then I’m back to what I was doing before I had this brilliant idea for a quick post.

This is in line with some other thoughts I’ve had about using MarsEdit for “micro-blogging,” since my friend Manton Reece has been playing with the idea for a forthcoming product.

It’s firmly on my “to do list” to support a feature like this, but I thought I’d put some effort into seeing how closely I can approximate the desired workflow with MarsEdit as it stands today. AppleScript to the rescue?

Click to download: Quick Post.scpt

This script takes advantage of the fact that MarsEdit’s scripting support lets you create a new post and populate it with arbitrary default values. It then uses a somewhat crude AppleScript trick of keeping the script running until the newly created document is closed. Why? Because as its parting gift, it shuts the door on its way out, so to speak, by re-activating whatever app you were using when you invoked the script.

Paired with FastScripts or another keyboard shortcut tool for scripts, you can assign a global hotkey that empowers you to quickly create a new blog post in MarsEdit, send it, and then resume work on whatever it was you were doing previously.

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MarsEdit 3.7.3: Restore Old HTTPS Behavior Tue, 20 Oct 2015 16:37:37 +0000 MarsEdit 3.7.3 is available now on the MarsEdit home page, and will be submitted to the Mac App Store approval for approval by Apple.

This is a quick-fix to revert one aspect of 3.7.2 that turned out to cause troubles: the enabling by default of support for TLS 1.1 and 1.2 protocols with HTTPS.

To make a long story short: Apple makes it easy to support these protocols, but only if you’ve linked against a newer version of their Mac development SDKs. For a variety of reasons, MarsEdit is not currently built against those newer SDKs. I thought I could work around the shortcoming myself in 3.7.2, but it turned out to be trickier than I thought. I’m reverting those changes until I can figure out how to solve the problem more permanently and robustly.

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MarsEdit 3.7.2: Full Screen Crash Fix Fri, 16 Oct 2015 21:01:16 +0000 MarsEdit 3.7.2 is available now on the MarsEdit home page, and will be submitted to the Mac App Store approval for approval by Apple.

I mentioned previously that our apps are compatible with OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Well, you never quite know for sure until the masses get ahold of the app and start playing with it. As soon as 10.11 shipped I started seeing reports with a tell-tale indication that MarsEdit was crashing in the process of exiting full screen mode.

I got to the bottom of the problem, which has to do with nuances about how things are cleaned up when a MarsEdit editor is being closed. The issue in the crashes was something about the process of closing a MarsEdit document and exiting full screen mode at the same time, caused a perfect storm of sorts in the cleaning up process: the system was still animating the window after MarsEdit had said goodbye and thought it was done.

MarsEdit 3.7.2 fixes this crash and also included a number of other fixes I’ve been queueing up.

MarsEdit 3.7.2

  • Fix a crash that occurred when closing an editor window directly from Full Screen mode in OS X El Capitan
  • MarsEdit now defaults to HTTPS for new connections to Tumblr blogs to increase security
  • Fix an issue that prevented MarsEdit from connecting to HTTPS endpoints that require TLS1.1 or TLS1.2
  • Fix a problem where content in a post’s title could be stripped for display if it looked like HTML
  • Fix a bug in handling literal % characters in text supplied by browser bookmarklet
  • For Flickr photo browsing, supprot an option to download 500 photos for moderately high number without downloading all
  • MarsEdit’s editor window now fill all available space in full screen mode

Let me know if you run into anything unusual with the update!

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Medium’s New API Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:46:19 +0000 Yesterday, Medium CEO Ev Williams announced a number of new features for the publishing service, but the one that interests me the most is of course the debut of a new publishing API. The “API” for any publishing service is a sort of interface for 3rd party apps that allows the content of a blog to be read, amended and edited outside of the service’s own web interface. Without an API, a desktop editor like MarsEdit cannot connect to and edit a blog’s posts.

Support for APIs used to be very strong not only for blog publishing services, but for photo sites like Flickr, and micro-blogging sites like Twitter. That enthusiasm seems to have waned in recent years. Popular publishing services such as WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr still support relatively robust APIs, while Squarespace completely abandoned their API, and Medium has kept us on pins and needles, until now, as to whether they would ever support one.

The new API, which is well-documented on GitHub, seems off to a good start. It’s a REST based design that shares some design similarities with Tumblr’s and Blogger’s APIs. There are also some interesting decisions that set the API apart from any others I’ve seen. Here I present my impressions based on a short tour of the API documentation, and a bit of tinkering with it at the command line.


The API supports authentication by way of the relatively standard OAuth2 web-based scheme, through which users are able to authorize a client without ever providing their password. In addition, it supports a “self-issued token” solution through which a user can obtain a token on that a client app or service can then use to directly access their Medium content. Currently, Medium is limiting access to the full OAuth based system, so anybody who wants to play around with the API will need to do so using a self-issued token.

License & Attribution

One of the most unique aspects to Medium’s API is the provision for specifying a canonical URL and license on a post being submitted to the service. The canonical URL refers to another web location that should be considered the original, or most authoritative version of a post, while the license designates whether the post’s copyright terms stipulate a post is sharable as public domain or under a particular Creative Commons license. These attributes together indicate that Medium expects and encourages users of the API to contribute content that is not intended to be exclusive to Medium.

As a blogging enthusiast, I like the presence of these attributes because it implies support for a broad range of API client uses, and also because it acknowledges the value of diversity of web content. One of the criticisms of Medium over the past couple years has been the extent to which it encourages writers to abandon their own custom domain names in favor of a proprietary based soapbox. These attributes encourage writers who favor their own canonical web sites to nonetheless engage in Medium’s network of readers, writers, and commenters.


The extent to which the API supports working with posts boils down to a single mechanism for submitting a post to the service. It’s not possible to enumerate the list of existing drafts or published posts, e.g. to crosspost to another service or backup your posts to a local archive.

Because of the REST design for the API, there is a natural improvement that would solve this problem. Currently, Medium supports POST access to add a new entry to the collection of posts:

POST /v1/users/<userID>/posts

A typical REST based API for managing assets would also support GET access to this same URL, to facilitate reading the list of existing posts.


Unfortunately, the interface also does not support amending the contents of any post that has been published. So, for example, if you’ve discovered moments after publishing that you left a nagging typo, or got a link wrong (it happens all the time), the API offers no capacity to redo the submission, replacing the contents of the post with updated values. Again, REST conventions have the roadmap for this functionality pretty clearly outlined: while a POST request is typically used to add a new post to a collection, a PUT request to a specific post’s resource URL should be interpreted as updating its content.

Markdown Support-ish

A welcome feature for Markdown fans is the option through the API to specify that the post’s content should be interpreted as either HTML or Markdown formatted text. As far as I know, Markdown is not supported in Medium’s web-based interface, so this may be the debut of “official support” for Markdown on Medium.

Unfortunately, the Markdown support through the API seems to be a one-time conversion from Markdown to HTML, at the time of submission. This means users can write in Markdown for the initial composition of a post, but any further edits (through the web interface only, see above) will need to be done using Medium’s default rich WYSIWYG editor.

A more attractive long-term solution for Markdown fans would be to support storing Markdown text literally in Medium’s database, and converting it to HTML only for presentation on the web. This leaves the pristine Markdown available for perpetual edits either moments or years after the post is first published. This would require updating the web interface to support editing content as plain text, but would be a welcome change for anybody who favors editing in Markdown.

Image Uploads

The API exposes a mechanism for uploading images, but permission to use this aspect of the API will be granted by Medium on a case-by-case basis to applications that Medium deems suitable. This means that for self-issued tokens, image uploads are not possible.

Because I’m using a self-issued token for the time being, I wasn’t able to test this aspect of the API, but it looks relatively straightforward. I appreciate that they support a variety of image formats, including animated GIF, and even TIFF. I have to wonder if at least the TIFF files will be converted to PNG or something more web-friendly.

In response to an image upload, the API vends clients a URL and MD5 hash of the image so that a client could take care to reuse an existing resource rather than upload it again. This is a nice touch, but it would be aided by also supporting a mechanism for listing all the existing images on the blog. Again, using the conventions of a REST API for collection data, a GET against the images URL could do the trick to vend a paged list of existing resources.

In any case, the support for image uploads is very welcome, especially in comparison with Tumblr’s long-standing, nonsensical omission of a similar API mechanism for arbitrary image uploads.


The API has a funny caveat about the “title” attribute supplied for a post:

Note that this title is used for SEO and when rendering the post as a listing, but will not appear in the actual post—for that it must be specified in the content field as well.

This leaves client developers is an awkward position where they will need to muck around the user’s content in order to obtain the (likely) desired outcome that a post should show its own title. When I write a new post in Medium’s web-based editor, the title I type into the Title field is respected and sticks with the post as a bona fide title. Through the API however the title must be snuck into the content of the post. It would be better, in my opinion, if the API designated a more fail-safe mechanism for ensuring that a specific title is used as a visible title heading for a post.

A Good Start

My interest in the new Medium API is obviously based in my hope to support the service from MarsEdit. The current limitations, particularly with respect to listing or existing posts, would make it difficult to support Medium at the same level of functionality as other publishing systems. I’m encouraged by the progress though, and am hopeful that in response to feedback from myself and others, they will continue to develop the API into a truly first-class experience for a wide range of 3rd party solutions.

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OS X El Capitan Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:44:45 +0000 Tomorrow, Apple will release the latest version of OS X: 10.11 “El Capitan.”

All Red Sweater apps have been tested against the forthcoming release, and there are no known incompatibilities.

Please let us know if you run into any problems or have specific questions about our apps.

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Cmd-Number Shortcuts For Safari 9 Thu, 09 Jul 2015 18:49:46 +0000 If you’re a Safari user and you’ve updated to the Safari 9 or OS X 10.11 beta, you may have noticed a minor change in the default keyboard shortcuts for the app.

In Safari 8 and earlier, keyboard shortcuts combining the Command key and a number, e.g. Cmd-1, Cmd-2, Cmd-3, would open the corresponding bookmark bar item. So if you arranged your most-frequently-visited sites in the first few bookmark bar slots, you could easily jump to those pages by muscle memory thanks to these shortcuts.

In Safari 9, these shortcuts now switch to any open tabs you have in a Safari window. This will come as a surprise to folks who have gotten used to e.g. using Cmd-1 to quickly jump to e.g. Google News, or Yahoo Stocks.

The implicit shortcuts for bookmark bar items are still available, but you have to add the option key into the mix. So where you used to press Cmd-1, you must now press Cmd-Opt-1.

This may not be a big deal to you, and you may choose to simply adapt, but for those who got used to the old behavior and want to preserve a similar functionality, FastScripts can do the job of putting things back into order for you.

Safari’s scripting interface doesn’t support selecting a specific bookmark bar item by number, so FastScripts can’t exactly replicate the old behavior. What it can do though is bind (just about) any keystroke to a script that opens a specific URL in Safari. You might find after getting used to doing things “the FastScripts way” that you prefer it to the old Safari way, because you won’t be limited to using numeric shortcuts, and will instead be able to choose whatever shortcuts you like. For example, I use Ctrl-N as my shortcut to quickly jump to Google News.

Here’s a step-by-step procedure for adding shortcuts to Safari to open a specific URL:

  1. Download FastScripts. It’s free for up to 10 shortcuts.
  2. Launch FastScripts and find its icon in the upper-right corner of your Mac’s screen. It looks like this: MenuIconGray 2x
  3. Launch or activate Safari so it’s the front-most app.
  4. Click the FastScripts icon and select FastScripts -> Create Safari Scripts Folder.
  5. Download this script and copy it to the Safari scripts folder.
  6. Double-click the script to open in Script Editor.
  7. Change the URL in the script from “” to whatever URL you like, e.g. “”
  8. Save the script and rename it to e.g. “Open Google News”.
  9. Back in Safari, hold the Command down and select “Open Google News” from the FastScripts menu. This is a shortcut to quickly change a script’s keyboard shortcut.
  10. Set the desired keyboard shortcut in FastScripts’s preferences.
  11. There’s no step 11! From now on, whenever you’re in Safari and want to jump to that URL, just press the keyboard shortcut, and you’re done.

This sounds a bit more complicated to set up than it is in practice. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to quickly replace however many Cmd-Number shortcuts as you like in Safari, and it might even open the door to overriding behaviors of other apps. This is an area where FastScripts really shines. Enjoy!

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MarsEdit 3.7.1: Finessing Apple Photos And Google Authentication Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:16:18 +0000 MarsEdit 3.7.1 is available now on the MarsEdit home page, and will be submitted to the Mac App Store approval for approval by Apple.

This update addresses a couple issues that affect a minority of MarsEdit users. One fix is for Blogger users who ran into mysterious “JavaScript disabled” errors when trying to log in to their blogs. The other should eliminate a crash that could occur while loading the contents of an Apple Photos library in MarsEdit’s Media Manager.

  • Fix a crash that could occur while reloading Apple Photos Library
  • Fix a rare issue where users could encounter a “JavaScript disabled” error when trying to log in to Blogger

Let me know if you run into any trouble with the update!

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MarsEdit 3.7: Blogger Functionality Restored Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:51:54 +0000 I’m happy to announce that MarsEdit 3.7 is available now from the MarsEdit home page and will be submitted to the Mac App Store approval for approval by Apple. If you are an existing Mac App Store customer, you can download and use the direct-download version immediately. Just switch back to the App Store version after you notice it’s been approved.

One week ago today, MarsEdit compatibility with Blogger was broken by a change in Google’s authentication requirements. I’ve spent the past week adding the required changes to MarsEdit so that Blogger blogs can be authenticated with the most modern mechanism Google offers: their company-wide OAuth2 implementation.

The big change for Blogger users is that instead of the usual MarsEdit authentication panel, requesting your Google username and password, you will see a larger window pop up with web content served directly from Google:

Sign In

While updating MarsEdit to use the new system was not a trivial undertaking, it is a valuable change for the long term. The new authentication scheme offers two significant improvements to protect your Google account’s security:

  1. Your password will no longer be stored (or even handled) by MarsEdit. The Google web window authenticates you using your login information, and then shares with MarsEdit a unique authentication token, which is now stored securely in the OS X keychain. This token allows MarsEdit to connect to your Blogger account without prompting you again for permission.
  2. You retain the option to revoke that access at any time, without even opening MarsEdit. Although MarsEdit always stores passwords securely in the OS X keychain, this additional level of security ensures that even if somebody were able to gain access to your keychain contents, they would not obtain unfettered access to your entire Google account.

This has been a wild week, but I’m very relieved to be able to offer this update for Google Blogger users. Folks who don’t use Blogger should also update, because there are a few minor fixes that will, in particular, improve the experience of using the MarsEdit Media Manager for some workflows.

Complete list of changes in MarsEdit 3.7:

  • Restore functionality for Google’s Blogger blogs by supporting their modern authentication scheme
  • Fix handling of dates to ensure proper post scheduling in all locales/regions
  • Fix some visual flickering of the Media Manager’s album/folders lists while clicking them
  • Refinements to Apple Photos support in Media Browser
    • Prevent a crash that could occur in media manager when no Photos library was created yet
    • Fix a problem where some groups could be expanded even if there are no contents inside

Please let me know ASAP, either in the comments below or by other support channels, how the update is working out for you.

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Preliminary MarsEdit Blogger Fix Fri, 29 May 2015 17:51:23 +0000 Since learning on Tuesday about MarsEdit’s sudden failure to connect with Blogger blogs, I have been working to restore functionality.

I’m happy to share that I’ve published a working (I hope!) beta release with preliminary support for connecting to Blogger through their newer authentication system, OAuth2. You can download a pre-release of MarsEdit with this functionality here:

Download MarsEdit 3.7b2

Be aware that when you first go to publish to your blog, upload an image, or delete a post, MarsEdit will pop up a login window for Google, right in the app. This is expected and is part of the new method for accommodating Google authentication:

Sign In

Be sure to use the Google account that is associated with your blog. After you sign in once and approve the connection, you shouldn’t need to sign in again.

There are a few rough edges in this beta release, but I want to make sure those of you who are waiting for a fix get something to try as soon as possible. Please let me know if you run into any major problems, particularly problems that prevent you from connecting to and editing your Blogger blog.

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