Apple Pay Support

February 12th, 2021

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce that the Red Sweater Store now supports Apple Pay!

With this change, I took the opportunity to revise the whole checkout process in the store, adapting to the latest features that Stripe, my payment processing company, has to offer. This means that customers whose cards adopt 3D Security features will also now be able to authenticate their purchase right in the store with no additional hassle.

The Stripe support for the “Apple Pay” button extends beyond Apple Pay. Theoretically it supports Google Pay, Microsoft Pay, and others. I don’t expect that most of my customers will use those payment options, but it’s great to know that they’re there in case it’s what happens to work best for the buyer.

I also took this opportunity to revise the amount of information requested from customers when making a purchase. Historically, I asked for name and mailing address, because that was typically what payment processing companies required. These days it’s not unusual to make payments with just an email address and a credit card, so that’s all I’m requiring now. It makes for a much more streamlined purchase flow.

How well does this new store work? I don’t know, why don’t you give it a try and let me know!

FastScripts 3 Beta

February 11th, 2021

FastScripts is one of Red Sweater’s most beloved, albeit niche, apps. The Mac-based scripting utility adds a menu bar icon for running scripts, and supports attaching keyboard shortcuts to them. Like many customers, I’ve been running it on my Mac literally every day for … seemingly forever.

Although the app has been continuously developed over the past twenty years or so, and has received many updates, it’s been a long time since I released a major upgrade. I went looking through the Red Sweater Blog archives to try to discover when FastScripts 2.0 shipped, and I couldn’t find a post. Why? It shipped before 2005, the year when this blog debuted. I had to resort to searching my email archives, where I discovered that FastScripts 2.0 was released on June 10, 2004. That release inroduced keyboard shortcuts and a number of new preferences to the app.

Over the years I’ve had a lot of ideas about how FastScripts might evolve, and have worked on new features intermittently. As part of my recent decision to reinvest in Red Sweater, I decided to focus on finally shipping some of those features in a major 3.0 upgrade. Today, I’d like to share what I’ve got so far, as a public beta:

Download FastScripts 3.0 Beta
(Free of charge until public release – Requires macOS 10.14.6 or later)

The major changes in this upgrade are the introduction of a search feature so you can easily sift through all the scripts in the menu, and a major overhaul to the way scripts are executed so that multiple scripts can be fired off in rapid succession without interfering with one another. The upgrade also includes a number of other changes. Here’s the complete list:

  • Scriptlight: quickly search your scripts from the FastScripts menu
    • Currently matches based on script title, may expand to match content
  • Scripts are always run in a separate process
    • Low latency execution by priming script running process
    • No limit to running simultaneous scripts
    • Scripts can’t “hang up” the main app or cause it to crash
  • FastScripts scripting changes
    • New “open web page” command streamlines visiting favorite URLs in whatever browser is active
    • FastScripts’s own hierarchies of scripts are now described as “script collections”
    • Improved the layout of text in the “display message” message panels
  • Other improvements
    • Conflicts are now detected when setting keyboard shortcuts for scripts
    • Keyboard shortcuts are now disabled while editing a script’s keyboard shortcut
    • Symbolic links are now supported in script folder hierarchies

Apart from the changes listed above, I hope to soon offer the ability to monitor and cancel long-running scripts are launched from FastScripts.

This upgrade will address a lot of of minor usability limitations of FastScripts 2 while also setting the groundwork for continued evolution of the app going forward. If you run scripts on your Mac, I hope you’ll consider giving it a try!

A Fresh Start

February 7th, 2021

I first established Red Sweater Software in 1999, when I was still living in San Francisco. At the time, I was working full time for Apple in Cupertino, but I had the idea of an independent software company simmering in the back of my mind. In 2002, I quit Apple not to focus on Red Sweater, but to pursue a second degree in Music. As it turned out, this also ended up kick-starting Red Sweater into a bona fide business.

For a few years, I used Red Sweater as the business name for my consulting services, while also developing and selling a few of my own apps, such as Clarion and FastScripts. Around 2006, I started to get more serious about the idea of going full-time developing my own apps, and dropped all of my consulting jobs to do just that.

Fast-forward 11 years, it was amazing to think that in the spring of 2019, I had been supporting myself and my family primarily with Red Sweater (as well as Core Intuition, the podcast I do with Manton Reece), for over a decade. But I was burning out a bit. My apps weren’t selling as well as they had been, and I was less motivated to keep working on them. After all that time without a steady paycheck, the lure of “uncomplicated money” was too much to pass up, so I took a nearly full-time job working with Mixed in Key.

Now, in the spring of 2021, I feel revitalized to pursue Red Sweater full time again, and am resigning my position with Mixed in Key to do that. I look forward to another ten years or more working on the apps I love so much, and hopefully unlocking the secret of making those apps lucrative enough to support myself and my family again.

Here’s to a fresh start for Red Sweater!

Black Ink 2.1.2: New Puzzles and Bug Fixes

February 5th, 2021

Black Ink 2.1.2 is now available on the Black Ink site and on the Mac App Store.

This update includes a fix for crashes that could occur while printing a puzzle or shortly after. It also includes support for two new puzzle sources, one free and one premium.

First, the Washington Post Sunday puzzle, by Evan Birnholz. Years ago, Black Ink had support for downloading this puzzle, but it disappeared at some point. It’s great to have it back on the roster!

Second, the Crossword Nation puzzle by Liz Gorski is now available to paid subscribers. Gorski offers 52 puzzles a year for only $19.99! Subscribe here.

Complete list of changes for this release:

  • Added Washington Post Sunday to the web puzzles list
  • Added Liz Gorski’s Crossword Nation premium puzzle
  • Fix a crashing bug that could occur while printing or shortly after
  • Fix a bug that could distort the puzzle shape when zooming in or out of full screen mode
  • Fix a bug that caused part of a checkbox label in preferences to be cut off

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.