MarsEdit 4.0.9: Fix Blogger Images

April 10th, 2018

MarsEdit 4.0.9 is now available for download from the MarsEdit home page and will be available from the Mac App Store after Apple has approved it.

In MarsEdit 4.0.8 I made a change for Blogger blogs to help ensure that images are embedded in a way that is compatible with Blogger’s themes. In the process, I messed up the generation of image URLs such that the http or https prefix for an uploaded image only has one slash:

https:/

When it should have two:

https://

The result was that for some blogs at least the images are showing up as missing resources, and not loading into the final published page.

MarsEdit 4.0.9 fixes this, but if you have any posts from the past month or so that exhibit this problem, you can fix it by editing the post as plain text (Post -> Edit Plain Text), find the “https:/” and add a slash to make it “https://”.

This update also changes the generation of “<!–more–>” tags on Blogger to avoid wrapping them with “<br />” tags.

Black Ink 2 Public Beta

April 5th, 2018

Last year, in the lead up to shipping MarsEdit 4, I released a public beta. The idea was to give users a chance to start enjoying some of the new features of the app while I worked out the remaining details and added a few bells and whistles. Now, I’d like to do a similar thing for Black Ink, my crossword solving app for the Mac.

Beta Release Overview

Black Ink 2 is available now as a public beta: Download Black Ink 2.0b4. This update requires macOS 10.12 or greater.

Pricing for Black Ink 2 has not been finalized. New users may evaluate Black Ink 2 using the free 30-day trial. When Black Ink 2 is released, customers who purchased Black Ink 1 on or after January 1, 2018, will receive a free upgrade.

Historical Perspective

In February 2007, I acquired a crossword solving app named MacXword. After a quick but significant update, I rebranded it and announced Black Ink 1.0 in March of that year. I explained at the time what a perfect fit a crossword app was for me personally:

The best part about this acquisition is that I love, and always have loved crossword puzzles. I’ve even gone so far as to try my hand at composing them. I’ve let my passion for puzzles diminish a little bit over the years, but Black Ink makes it so easy to download and solve puzzles, I’m finding it the perfect antidote to my stress-filled days.

I’ve actively maintained the app these past ten years, consistently releasing updates to refine the solving experience, add new puzzle sources, and adapt to the overall reduction in the number of free puzzles on the web. In spite of another lull in my personal enthusiasm for solving puzzles, I’ve been proud to be the steward of what I consider the best crossword solving app on any platform.

A couple years ago, my interest in solving puzzles was rekindled, and through my personal experience using the app almost every day, I have been motivated to make a number of longstanding improvements to the app. Many of these come down to fit and finish. To crossword lovers, the puzzles themselves are things of beauty, and I believe they should be represented as cleanly as possible both on the screen and when printed. For this reason I have always emphasized precise rendering of puzzle grid lines, cell numbers, and answer characters. Black Ink 1 is a beautiful app, but there are areas where it can still be improved.

What’s New in Black Ink 2

To give you an idea of what’s new, let’s start with a (shrunken-down, to fit this blog) screenshot:

Screenshot of Black Ink 2's main puzzle solving interface.

Existing Black Ink users will appreciate that the interface is familiar, yet different. Here are some of the changes that are visible above:

  • No more drawers! Clue lists are now integrated into the main puzzle window.
  • Sharper grid lines. On Retina displays, the lines between cells are now thinner to give an overall cleaner look.
  • Refined circle drawing. In Black Ink 1, circled cells draw right over the cell number. In the screenshot above, see how the circle makes way for the number. It does the same thing for any of the badges for incorrect and revealed answers in cells.

On top of these changes, I am chipping away at other details that may be minor nuisances, but which can be confusing or frustrating. How many times have you opened a puzzle and spent a good few minutes on it, only to realize you were missing something subtle? Some puzzles include special notes for solvers, but you have to remember to “Show Puzzle Notes…” from the menu bar. Not anymore. In Black Ink 2, if a puzzle contains notes, they are displayed automatically upon opening the puzzle:

Screenshot of a Black Ink puzzle with notes displayed.

Here are some other improvements you’ll find in Black Ink 2:

  • Clue text dynamically resizes to ensure the whole clue is visible at the top of the window.
  • “Advance to blank” behavior now considers a known incorrect answer as “blank”, for ease of navigation when finishing up puzzle with incorrect answers.
  • Capitalized letters are now accepted as valid (when you instinctively capitalize a proper noun, e.g.).
  • Diagramless puzzles now open as a blank grid, suitable for solving in the app or for printing.

What’s Next?

I’m excited to get this beta out to you so you can see what I’ve been working on, but I really need your feedback to figure out both where to go next, and how to refine what I’ve already done. Some of the enhancements I’m considering adding to the 2.0 release include:

  • Improved tools for downloading older puzzles from a source
  • Embedding the Timer into the main puzzle window.
  • Improved full-screen solving experience.
  • Tools for capturing screenshots of puzzles for social sharing.

And of course because I know many of you are wondering, I do still have it in mind to create an iOS version of Black Ink. I don’t have anything to announce at this time.

Please consider joining the Red Sweater Slack team to discuss the upcoming release, share your feedback, or let me know what you wish I’d add. Join the #blackink channel once you’re there! As always, I also welcome bug reports and other feedback via email.

I hope you enjoy the sneak peak at Black Ink 2. Happy solving, and let me know what you think!

MarsEdit 4.0.8: Fix Media Manager Permissions

March 27th, 2018

MarsEdit 4.0.8 is now available for download from the MarsEdit home page and from the Mac App Store.

This update brings a number of bug fixes and minor enhancements. Most notably, it fixes an issue where double-clicking an image from the Media Manager might result in an image that MarsEdit could not access, leaving a “?” placeholder image in the published post.

  • Fix a bug where images from Media Manager were not always permitted to be inserted into posts
  • Fix a bug that could cause slow text layout in the plain text editor
  • Disable Tags field when editing WordPress Page entries, where they’re not allowed
  • Ensure escape and cmd-. keyboard shortcuts work as expected for cancel button in panels
  • Enable the ‘Copy Published Link’ and ‘Send to Blog’ menu items when the preview window is active

Enjoy!

MarsEdit 4.0.7: Editor Stability & Refresh Performance

February 6th, 2018

MarsEdit 4.0.7 is now available for download from the MarsEdit home page and on the Mac App Store.

Within the past few weeks, the number of hangs and crashes having to do with MarsEdit’s plain-text editor has gone up quite a bit. I think it was a combination of some changes in in MarsEdit 4, and some changes in Apple’s latest revisions of the Mac libraries in macOS 10.13. This update makes a few changes that should dramatically reduce if not eliminate these editor annoyances.

MarsEdit 4 brought a new feature to support downloading the entire post archive from a blog, and some of the app’s most long-time devotees decided to put it to the test! For some blogs, particularly when there are thousands of posts, it may be prudent or even necessary to change the default “number of posts per request” in MarsEdit’s Connection settings. Previously, this setting was being respected for WordPress, but ignored for Tumblr and Blogger. This is also fixed in this update.

A number of other improvements were made. Here is the complete list of changes:

MarsEdit 4.0.7

  • Fix a crash that could occur in the plain text syntax highlighting functionality
  • Fix a hang in the plain text editor that could affect large posts
  • Fix Google and Tumblr blogs to heed the “number of posts per request” download setting
  • Fix a bug introduced in 4.0.6 that caused doubling of file extensions on image uploads
  • Fix behavior of “Do Again” format menu item for custom macros applies in Rich Text mode
  • Fix a bug that prevented Featured Image from being deleted from an already-published post
  • Fix handling of combining characters such as the “Male Singer” (Ziggy Startdust) in plain text editor
  • Change character count behavior to consider spaces in total character count.

Enjoy!