Black Ink 1.0

March 21st, 2007

Today I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Black Ink 1.0. Read more in the Press Release.

Hopefully the icon makes it pretty obvious that this is an application for solving crossword puzzles. In fact, Black Ink is the successor to the most popular crossword solving application on Mac OS X: MacXword, formerly available from Advenio, LLC.

MacXword was the first AcrossLite-compatible client on Mac OS X, and has evolved over the years into the most feature-filled and elegant product in the category. When I acquired the product from original author Stephan Cleaves two months ago, I did so with two goals in mind:

  1. Stay the best.
  2. Get even better.

Black Ink is everything that MacXword was, and more:

  • Fully compatible with Intel-based Macs.
  • Ported from Java to Objective-C and fine-tuned for performance.
  • Streamlined UI emphasises finding and solving puzzles.

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.

If you love crosswords, and you have a Mac, you need to check out Black Ink.

If you love crosswords and you don’t have a Mac, maybe it’s finally time to change that.

PS: Yes, this is the “java app!

Update: Stephan Cleaves offers a good historical perspective on MacXword, and how it ended up becoming Black Ink.

23 Responses to “Black Ink 1.0”

  1. Stephan Cleaves Says:

    Congratulations and well-done Daniel! Keeping quiet about this transaction has been killing me :)

    I’m so happy to see MacXword live on as Black Ink and I know the existing users of MacXword will be especially pleased to have a universal binary. New users should be drawn by the improvements to the user experience you have implemented and by whatever great features you add in the future.

    Thanks for making this a wonderful transaction and for the excellent work you’ve done on this first new version. I’m composing a brief history of MacXword that will be posted to the Yellow Camp blog – http://yellow-camp.com/blog/ – sometime later today.

  2. Dan Moren Says:

    Already finished my first NYT puzzle this morning, while writing up the MacUser post on Black Ink. Very psyched. :)

  3. Steve Streza Says:

    This deserves to be much prettier. And not have a drawer. :)

  4. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Steve: Patience, my son :) It is a 1.0 after all …

  5. Frank 'viperteq' Young Says:

    Congrats Daniel! You are turning into a quiet software powerhouse along the lines of Adobe or M$FT – except with out the bloat and malware, LMAO!!!!

    Seriously, it’s nice to see someone building up a nice foundation on some solid Mac software. Continued blessings and success to you.

  6. Manton Reece Says:

    Neat, I never would have guessed! Glad to see such a fun app added to your product line. Congratulations, and a special thanks for showing us how you handled the transition.

  7. John Muir Says:

    Something I’d quite fancy is an app for making crossword grids, as opposed to playing them. Getting enough things to cross over can be quite a trick in itself and cries out for automation! Let the man contrive his cryptics while the Mac lays out the plan. ;-)

  8. Devon Shaw Says:

    Nice work Dan! Who did the work on that icon?

  9. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Thanks, Devon! The icon is by Jordan Langille of One Toad Design.

  10. Andy Lee Says:

    Whoa, as a crossword geek I am VERY excited! This strikes me as a perfect small-app acquisition for Red Sweater, and I’m delighted to see it has been taken on by a developer whose taste and skills I trust.

    I forget why I grudgingly switched back to Across Lite. I might be because I actually print my NY Times puzzles most of the time. I like the option Across Lite has for placing the grid in the lower right corner, so I can see the clues while I am filling in answers. It’s a technique for solving puzzles quickly — looking up at the next clue while your hand is writing — and it’s easier if your hand isn’t covering any clues. I don’t remember if MacXword had the same option.

    Daniel, I assume you’ve seen “Word Play.” Are you going to go to the tournament in Stamford this weekend? Maybe you could make some sales there? I’ve toyed with the idea of going over the years, just for fun, and maybe as something to blog about. I thought I might go this year; I wish I had gone before, so I could compare it before and after the movie.

    Anyway, good luck — I will *definitely* check out Black Ink as soon as I get a chance. (I’m embroiled at work at the moment.)

  11. Andy Lee Says:

    P.S. I actually submitted a couple of puzzles to the NY Times many years ago. To give you an idea how long ago, I received a polite handwritten rejection letter from Eugene T. Maleska! I should really try to find the puzzles and the letter.

    Also… I have often wondered what an “insanely great” crossword *composition* tool would look like…

  12. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Oh man! It totally slipped my mind that Stamford is this weekend. But when I bought the app I was loosely thinking it would be fun to try to coordinate the release with that time :) I guess it sort of worked out, though I didn’t notice :)

    The idea of printing the grid in the lower right (or left for lefties I guess) is good … I am going to be revisiting the printing functionality to make it even better. I think AcrossLite does have some superior behavior in that area (about the only area!).

  13. Andy Lee Says:

    One thing that bugs me about the Across Lite printing is that it takes forever. True, I only print once a day, and it’s only a few seconds, but it drive me nuts that after hitting Command-P I have to hit Return three times, each with just enough delay to bug me.

    (I know I can print with one mouse gesture on the toolbar, but that doesn’t seem to want to use my printer settings, and insists on printing at higher quality than I need.)

    So I’ll be checking out the printing in MacXword for sure. :)

  14. Rui Carmo Says:

    Amazing icon – first impressions count, and that’s one hell of a first impression :)

  15. Andy Lee Says:

    Anybody know if there’s a Spotlight plugin for indexing Across Lite files?

  16. Stephan Cleaves Says:

    Andy I believe you’ll find that Black Ink has one. Unless Daniel has changed it from the one I wrote it will only index puzzle title, author, and copyright.

  17. Andy Lee Says:

    Thanks, Stephen. I was hoping it was possible to index clues and answers too, because I’m nerdy enough to wonder “Where did I see that clue about such and such…?”

    Maybe that wouldn’t be possible or desirable for puzzles where the solution requires a key to unlock the solution, but the clues could still be indexable.

    Thanks, by the way, for writing MacXword. It bugged me when Across Lite required Classic for so long, and the interface was always ugly. I hope to be converted back to Black Ink!

    “Black Ink” is an excellent name for a crossword solving app, by the way. And it leads to the cute headline on the Mac DevCenter article about it: “Ink Different.”

    Back to work…

  18. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Andy – I didn’t really touch the Spotlight importer since Stephan wrote it, but I think it makes sense to index the clues & answers, too.

    I’m glad you like the name. I did a full page brainstorm on paper, and it was the one that ended up standing out. For a long time I was convinced I had to have “crossword” (or a derivation like xword) in the name of the app, but then I decided that there’s poetry in Black Ink :)

  19. Scott Stevenson Says:

    You should change the Red Sweater logo to use squares instead of circles.

  20. Keith Shaw Says:

    I just wanted to reiterate what others have already said. Great Icon!

    It really is wonderful. Something I’d be proud to have in my dock!

    I’m not much of a crossword puzzler, but I’ll be recommending this to a few friends.

    Thanks again for making some great software!

  21. Arden Says:

    Darn, the image didn’t show. You can delete the above comment…

    http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/bornloser/archive/images/bornloser2007610930322.gif

  22. Jessica Kahn Says:

    Whee! My mom and I have been using MacXword for many years, for the NYTimes crosswords online. Very pleased to find out that you’re in charge of the successor! How fun that you’re now in charge of the product we’ll use in future!

  23. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Awesome, Jessica! All of my crossword solving friends are coming out of the woodwork since I announced this :)

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