Black Ink 2.0.6: Solving Improvements

June 4th, 2020

Black Ink 2.0.6 is now available on the Black Ink site and on the Mac App Store.

This update improves some of Black Ink’s nuanced solving affordances, including its support for “direct clue navigation”. When you type a numeric value while solving in Black Ink, you see a heads-up display previewing the clue number you’ll navigate to:

Screenshot from Black Ink showing the numeric display that appears when typing a clue number for direct navigation

Previously to 2.0.6, after typing a clue number you had to press return to “confirm” the jump. Starting with this release, after a short pause the focus will automatically jump without confirmation. It’s the little things that add up!

Complete list of changes for this release:

  • Typing a number to jump to a clue now automatically commits without pressing enter
  • Change default navigation preferences to not pause cursor movement when changing directions
  • Fix the appearance of circled cells to prevent the circle being shifted a little too high
  • Fix a crash that could occur when tabbing in a puzzle with squares that do not correspond to any clue
  • Fix a bug that could change other answers when revealing a multi-character answer
  • Fix a bug that caused the wrong clue to show when reopening the app with a down clue selected

If you enjoy Black Ink, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks for your support.

Black Ink 2.0.4: Support for The Inkubator

April 2nd, 2020

I’m excited to announce a new premium puzzle source for Black Ink: The Inkubator. This puzzle is dedicated to showcasing puzzles constructed by women. Or, as they put it: “cis women, trans women, & woman-aligned constructors.” The puzzles come out twice a month, and normally cost $25/year, but at the moment they are offering a free, two-month trial, which also includes access to the archive of past puzzles.

Black Ink 2.0.4 is available on the home page and on the Mac App Store.

If you enjoy Black Ink, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Questions or concerns? Get in touch at support@red-sweater.com. Thank you.

Rex Parker Does the NY Times With Black Ink

April 1st, 2020

What better way to pass the time indoors than by enjoying a nice crossword puzzle?

For many of us who solve the New York Times daily crossword, Rex Parker’s blog is a regular post-solving stop. If there’s anything that seemed unusually great or, more likely, unusually groan-worthy about a particular puzzle, Rex is likely to have nailed it with concision in his daily review.

Today’s entry is a particular treat because Rex shared a live video of his solving process, featuring none other than Black Ink, our Mac crossword solving app. Here’s a direct link to the YouTube video, which I don’t recommend clicking through to until AFTER you’ve solved the puzzle, unless you don’t mind spoilers:

Watch Rex Parker solve the New York Times crossword with Black Ink

It’s fun to see a master at work, especially when he’s using such an excellent tool to get the job done!

Dictionary Lookups in Black Ink

March 27th, 2020

Crossword lovers enjoy Black Ink’s beautifully rendered puzzle grids, elegant solving dynamics, and the ease with which you can download and solve puzzles right on your Mac. But there are many other features lurking just beneath the surface.

One lesser-known capability leans on the brilliant system-wide dictionary lookup service that Apple provides, built-in to every Mac. If you’re not familiar with it, try it out as soon as you can: just hold the Command, Control and D keys while the mouse cursor on your Mac is hovering over some text. A dictionary lookup is performed and the results bounce to life right before your eyes. Pretty neat, huh?

Black Ink offers several features that give you some help when you’re stumped with a puzzle. There are options to check the accuracy of an entry you’ve made, and integration with the popular OneAcross.com service, which helps to suggest possible answers based on your current entries. When all else fails, you can even ask Black Ink to reveal the answer for any cell in the grid.

But sometimes the challenge isn’t so much in figuring out the answer, as it is in figuring out the clue itself. I took care in developing Black Ink that the same dictionary lookup functionality can be applied to the clues of a puzzle you’re in the midst of solving, so that you have a sporting chance of guessing the answer.

For example, many of the world’s most famous puzzles are American, and include clues that are aimed at an American audience. For folks elsewhere in the world who still enjoy the puzzles, it could be perplexing to come across a clue like “Betty Crocker product”. Now, I know who Betty Crocker is, but if you’re not from the United States, I’m not sure you do! Not a problem, just hold down Command, Control, and D. Because Wikipedia is configured as one of the dictionary lookup sources, I get this useful result:

Screenshot of Black Ink crossword app with the words

Aha, Betty Crocker is a famous brand food products company in the US. This summary doesn’t completely convey the cultural knowledge of what Betty Crocker means to the average American, but it’s at least a good head start in figuring out the answer to this clue, which happens to be CAKEMIX.

One of the things I love about solving crossword puzzles myself is that they are at once a challenge of my existing knowledge, and a means of increasing it. Of course I try to answer every clue without assistance, but when a “Betty Crocker” comes along, I know just what to do to level the playing field.