Blogs

Introducing SheetPlanner for Mac

I'm pleased to announce the release of a new macOS app: SheetPlanner. This is a powerful new app that combines an outliner, todo, spreadsheet, timeline, calendar, and more, enabling you to easily plan projects, manage tasks, organize information, and many other uses.

It includes support for multiple types of columns, inline notes and links, sorting, an option to focus on a subset of rows, flexible smart filter options, styles, dark mode, and many more features, yet is very simple to get started.

SheetPlanner was written by me over the past 18 months or so, as a Dejal consulting project for SheetPlanner Software LLC.

SheetPlanner planning document screenshot

Start by picking one of the pre-made templates, or an empty document:

Template chooser screenshot

Configure columns, the theme, and other options in the Inspector:

SheetPlanner theme screenshot

You can show any combination of the Outline, Timeline, Month, Year, and Inspector views, in horizontal or vertical orientation:

Vertical orientation screenshot

Show a month view to see dates on a calendar:

Month view screenshot

And/or a year view for a heat map of tasks:

Year view screenshot

Include inline notes and/or attachments:

Inspector screenshot

Customize powerful filters to show only matching rows:

Editing a filter screenshot

Or edit the preferences:

Preferences screenshot

Try it now!

SheetPlanner is available as a free download, and includes a free three-week full-featured trial. The app can be purchased for just $49.99, or continue with a free read-only mode if you're not ready to buy.

Visit the SheetPlanner website to learn more, or download from the Mac App Store to try it for yourself!

Time Out tips: lunchtime & night breaks

On Twitter, Abbey Jackson asked:

Sure! Here's the Schedule page for my Time Out preferences, showing my Lunchtime break configuration:

Lunchtime schedule screenshot

There are two important steps to do this: firstly, set the frequency to Every 1 day, and secondly, use the Available options to set a fixed start time of noon. In my example, I have this break only occur on weekdays. I also have the natural break option set to Continue Countdown, since I want the break to start immediately, not get pushed back due to idle time.

Didn't realize that you can set daily breaks? Yep! Click, arrow, or tab to the units of the duration ("Break for") and frequency ("Every") fields to change between various units: seconds, minutes, hours for the duration, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years for the frequency.

As a bonus, here's my Night break, that tells me to go to bed:

Night schedule screenshot

This is similar, but a longer duration. And yes, I go to bed rather early, as I usually get up at 05:30 (but don't get to my Mac till after breakfast).

Hope this helps!

Time Out 2.5 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.5 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

The most obvious change in version 2.5 is dark mode support on Mojave (macOS 10.14):

Mojave dark mode schedule screenshot

Isn't that pretty?

In addition to Mojave compatibility, this update also includes a new option on the Break Schedule page of the preferences to choose which days of the week a break is available. Eagle-eyed people may have noticed it in the above screenshot:

Mojave dark mode schedule screenshot

Using this option, you could indicate that breaks should only occur on weekdays, as above, or only Fridays, or any other combination. The days of the week can combine with a time range, or apply all day on the indicated days. This new feature is available as a reward for current supporters, or you can try it as often as you like, for an hour at a time.

(Don't worry, the first day of the week will respect your System Preferences; if you consider that the week starts on Sunday, for example, that'll be first in the control.)

Another new supporter option is on the Advanced preferences page: the ability to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break:

Mojave dark mode advanced screenshot

Most people probably don't need this, but if you need a little extra encouragement to avoid skipping breaks, this might be helpful, when combined with existing options to disable the postpone and skip buttons.

There are of course a number of other enhancements and fixes. I recommend everyone update to this version.

Here are the full release notes:

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • All of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).

New option to choose which days of the week a break is available

  • Renamed the Break Schedule Available options to "Every Day" and "Between", and added a new "All Day" option.
  • The latter two now include buttons for the days of the week, enabling days to be toggled off or on, to indicate on which days to use the break.
  • The difference between them is that "All Day" doesn't have the time fields, and "Between" does.
  • This new feature could be useful to have breaks that are only used on weekends, or working days, or Wednesdays and Fridays, or any other combination.
  • This new option is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature, or try for an hour at a time.

New option to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break

  • Added a checkbox on the Advanced page to disable the panels that appear when switching apps via Cmd-Tab, force quit via Cmd-Option-Escape, and sleep, restart, or shut down via Ctrl-Eject (or Ctrl-Power). Defaults off.
  • This new option is also available as a reward for current supporters.

Other changes

  • Can now manually postpone a break for longer than the frequency interval.
  • Fixed playing a sound for the Display Notification break action.
  • Fixed a scheduler issue where a lower priority break may be skipped if a higher priority break has never been done.
  • Removed the Fabric crash reporter, to avoid sending unnecessary data to a third party.

Want to try it?

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.5 now!

Time Out 2.5b2 released

What's this? Another Time Out beta already? Yep!

This second beta of version 2.5 includes a couple much-requested new features for supporters, improvements for Mojave, and a fix for prior OS versions, among other changes.

Read on for details:

New option to choose which days of the week a break is available

  • Renamed the Break Schedule Available options to "Every Day" and "Between", and added a new "All Day" option.
  • The latter two now include buttons for the days of the week, enabling days to be toggled off or on, to indicate on which days to use the break.
  • The difference between them is that "All Day" doesn't have the time fields, and "Between" does.
  • This new feature could be useful to have breaks that are only used on weekends, or working days, or Wednesdays and Fridays, or any other combination.
  • This new option is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature, or try for an hour at a time.

New option to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break

  • Added a checkbox on the Advanced page to disable the panels that appear when switching apps via Cmd-Tab, force quit via Cmd-Option-Escape, and sleep, restart, or shut down via Ctrl-Eject (or Ctrl-Power). Defaults off.
  • This new option is also available as a reward for current supporters.

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • Fixed a crash of the previous beta on macOS versions before Mojave, when displaying the status popover. Sorry about that!
  • Fixed some cosmetic visual issues from the previous beta.

Other changes

  • Can now manually postpone a break for longer than the frequency interval.
  • Fixed playing a sound for the Display Notification break action.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.5b2 now!

Attending Swift by Northwest conference in Portland

I will be attending the Swift by Northwest conference in Portland on October 18-20. This is a sold-out conference for macOS and iOS developers, with a focus on the Swift programming language, and related topics.

I've written a blog post on my personal blog to introduce myself to attendees. Others may also be interested.

Check it out!

Simon 4.3.1 released

Simon version 4.3.1 is now available. This bug-fix update just has a couple of tweaks:

  • Fixed a crash when generating a remote report.
  • Further tweaks for dark mode on Mojave.

Remember, Simon's price has been temporarily reduced (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate version 4.3 (and 4.3.1). Get it while it lasts!

Changes in 4.3 included:

  • Mojave dark mode and compatibility
  • Added the ability to follow or not follow a meta refresh for each test
  • Several improvements to the pause and auto-pause functions
  • A number of refinements of services and filters
  • Updated the default data
  • Plus many other improvements
  • Get it now!

    If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

    If you are using the Setapp edition, the app will automatically update shortly.

    Otherwise, download Simon 4.3.1 now.

Time Out 2.5b1 released

Hey Time Out fans! Been wondering where Mojave dark mode support is? Wonder no more; it's here!

Version 2.5 is still very much a work-in-progress, but I wanted to get out a beta especially for anyone using it on Mojave (macOS 10.14) and wanting to use dark mode. I plan to make a number of additional changes before the general release, but everyone is welcome to use the beta; it should be safe.

Mojave dark mode screenshot

Only a few changes in this first beta:

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • All of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).

Other changes

  • Fixed a scheduler issue where a lower priority break may be skipped if a higher priority break has never been done.
  • Removed the Fabric crash reporter, to avoid sending unnecessary data to a third party.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.5b1 now!

Simon 4.3 released

I'm pleased to announce that Simon version 4.3 is now available. An important update to my pro utility app to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures.

If you will be installing Mojave (macOS 10.14) on Monday, or any time soon, this update is essential, to address some compatibility issues. But it is still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10), and has some nice improvements even if you won't be updating yet.

I've also temporarily reduced the price (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate this update. Get it while it lasts!

Changes in this release include:

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • All of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14.
  • Updated the Script Preferences to use separate foreground and background colors when in light or dark mode on Mojave.
  • Fixed the mode buttons briefly appearing when not editing, and other appearance issues on Mojave.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).

Mojave dark mode screenshot

Added the ability to follow or not follow a meta refresh for each test

  • Added a Follow any meta refresh header to another page option in the Other section of the Web (HTTP) Service editor.
  • Meta refreshes are sometimes used to redirect to another page, e.g. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://www.dejal.com/">. Meta refreshes to reload the same page are ignored.
  • This option is on by default. It replaces a hidden preference, and makes it test-specific.

Follow meta option screenshot

Several improvements to the pause and auto-pause functions

  • Improved the Auto-Pause logic so it'll work for a full day (e.g. to pause all weekend, choose Weekends from 00:00 to 00:00).
  • When a test should be auto-paused when the app is launched, it is now.
  • When editing the Auto-Pause settings, the next due label is updated live (and says "now" if the days and time encompasses the current time).
  • If a test is paused when the Preview is shown, then the app quit, it now remains paused on launch (instead of the Preview forcing it to resume).
  • After pausing or resuming a test with the Preview shown, it is now updated to reflect the new state.

A number of refinements of services and filters

  • Changed the Script feature to support a script only outputting as an error, but still succeeding, e.g. curl.
  • Fixed a crasher when editing a test on the Filters page, for data upgraded from version 2 or earlier.
  • Fixed the Password field remembering its value in Port-based tests.
  • Prevented adding multiple Service sections to the Port-based Preview.
  • Fixed the Exclude Block filter, that timed out when trying to extract the output after the end text.
  • Improved the layout of the Context filter.

Test filters screenshot

Updated the default data

  • Replaced the default "Apple hot news" test with "Apple newsroom", using their current news URL, and updated filters.
  • Updated the default data to use https for Dejal links.
  • Removed the default "FTP Directory Listing" service, since macOS no longer includes the ftp command-line tool.

Plus many other improvements

  • Fixed the Preview item in the View menu not having a checkmark when selected.
  • There was hardcoded logic to ignore a failure if more than 3 minutes from starting, to cope with the Mac sleeping during a check. Now uses a minute past the timeout interval, so it works better with long test timeouts.
  • Removed the Fabric crash reporter, to avoid sending unnecessary data to a third party.
  • Updated support for Setapp. (Prefer a subscription to Simon and lots of other apps? Check out Setapp.)
  • Removed the help book within the app, since it didn't work reliably. The help is still available online.
  • To celebrate version 4.3, the prices have been temporarily reduced!

Get it now!

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

If you are using the Setapp edition, the app will automatically update shortly.

Otherwise, download Simon 4.3 now.

Simon 4.3b1 released

It's been a while, but I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Simon, my pro utility app to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures.

Version 4.3 is still a work-in-progress, but I wanted to get out a beta especially for anyone using it on Mojave (macOS 10.14), and also to address some issues that have been reported.

I've also temporarily reduced the price (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate this update. Get it while it lasts!

Changes in this first beta include:

  • Mojave dark mode support: all of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14. (If you find anything that doesn't look right, please let me know!)
  • Updated the Script Preferences to use separate foreground and background colors when in light or dark mode on Mojave.
  • Changed the Script feature to support a script only outputting as an error, but still succeeding, e.g. curl.
  • Fixed a crasher when editing a test on the Filters page, for data upgraded from version 2 or earlier.
  • Fixed the mode buttons briefly appearing when not editing.
  • Fixed the Preview item in the View menu not having a checkmark when selected.
  • Added a Follow any meta refresh header to another page option in the Other section of the Web (HTTP) Service editor. Meta refreshes are sometimes used to redirect to another page, e.g. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://www.dejal.com/">. Meta refreshes to reload the same page are ignored. This option is on by default. It replaces a hidden preference, and makes it test-specific.
  • Fixed the Password field remembering its value in Port-based tests.
  • Prevented adding multiple Service sections to the Port-based Preview.
  • Fixed the Exclude Block filter, that timed out when trying to extract the output after the end text.
  • Improved the layout of the Context filter.
  • Improved the Auto-Pause logic so it'll work for a full day (e.g. to pause all weekend, choose Weekends from 00:00 to 00:00).
  • When a test should be auto-paused when the app is launched, it is now.
  • When editing the Auto-Pause settings, the next due label is updated live (and says "now" if the days and time encompasses the current time).
  • If a test is paused when the Preview is shown, then the app quit, it now remains paused on launch (instead of the Preview forcing it to resume).
  • After pausing or resuming a test with the Preview shown, it is now updated to reflect the new state.
  • There was hardcoded logic to ignore a failure if more than 3 minutes from starting, to cope with the Mac sleeping during a check. Now uses a minute past the timeout interval, so it works better with long test timeouts.
  • Replaced the default "Apple hot news" test with "Apple newsroom", using their current news URL, and updated filters.
  • Updated the default data to use https for Dejal links.
  • Removed the default "FTP Directory Listing" service, since macOS no longer includes the ftp command-line tool.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).
  • To celebrate version 4.3, the prices have been temporarily reduced!

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 4.3b1 now!

WWDC week in San Jose

On my personal blog, I just posted about my adventures in San Jose for WWDC week, with lots of photos.

Check it out!

Heading to San Jose for WWDC week

I will be in San Jose next week, during WWDC. I won't actually be attending WWDC itself, but will be at AltConf and other events that week:

If you see me around San Jose, please feel most welcome to say hi. I am an introvert, so other people coming up to me to introduce themselves makes it easier for me! But one of the main reasons for being there is to network with other macOS and iOS developers, and others in our industry.

I will be wearing one of several Dejal shirt designs, plus may be wearing a Dejal cap. And my long beard is fairly distinctive:

David wearing Dejal shirt & cap

I will give out business cards with my contact details and apps, Dejal stickers, Time Out stickers, and even stickers for a secret new project I've spent the last year working on (which I'd be happy to show you if interested):

Dejal business cards and stickers

I hope to see you there!

A more secure world

There has been a trend in recent years for websites to adopt TLS/SSL for security — where you see a lock icon in the web browser location field. This is definitely a good idea, even when the site doesn't have forms, but even more so when it does.

The Dejal site has supported TLS for a few years via the dejal.net site, which uses the Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN) to provide reliable sites. This is used by the apps to provide secure purchases and updates.

But until today, the main dejal.com site didn't support TLS... mainly through inertia. Now it does.

I'm considering this experimental at present, in case there are any issues, but you are welcome to use https:// with the dejal.com site now. If you get any errors, just remove the "s" to go back to the non-secure edition.

On a related topic, I've been suffering a lot of attempted forum spam recently. Pretty much all of it is caught before appearing, but the evildoers keep trying. So creating accounts now requires manual approval, to try to dry up that flood. Sorry for any inconvenience. As always, if you have an urgent question, you can use the contact form to email me.

Take me to the secure Dejal site!

Time Out 2.4 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.4 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.4 further extends the enhancements to the postpone and skip options introduced in version 2.3, including a new option to disable those buttons for a few seconds at the start of each break. You may find this helpful if you are habitually clicking the Postpone or Skip buttons, without taking a moment to decide if you really need to defer the break. It's common to see the start of the break as an unwelcome interruption — but you installed the app in the first place because you recognized that you need to take regular breaks for your health and wellbeing. You can activate this option to give you a few seconds to make a more mindful decision.

Another much-requested change in this release is the ability to customize the time to detect natural breaks, i.e. how long the computer is idle.

Something that might help in deciding how you're doing in taking breaks is a new Statistics feature. This is within the Activity section, and includes the number of times you've postponed, skipped, or done breaks, and the total time spent in breaks. These amounts will start being calculated in version 2.4, so take a look after a few days. It also includes a fascinating line chart, for a graphical representation (see below).

There are of course a number of other enhancements and fixes. I recommend everyone update to this version.

Read on for details.

Added a Statistics page under Activity

  • Added page buttons to the Activity page of the preferences, with Activity and Statistics pages.
  • The Activity page is the same as before.
  • The new Statistics page includes a summary of breaks, pop-up menus to choose the kind of counter and break(s) to display, and a line chart of count values.
  • The count options include the number of times a break was postponed, skipped, or done in a day, or the total duration of that break.
  • The menus also enable displaying those counts for all breaks, or just a specific one.
  • When showing All Breaks, the values for each break are stacked.
  • The chart will not be shown initially; come back after a couple of days to see it, once some history has been gathered.
  • Also includes a Share button to the right of the page buttons, to make it easy to tweet etc the stats.

Here's what the Statistics page looks like (obviously, your numbers will be different):

Statistics page screenshot

Option to disable buttons for a few seconds

  • Added an option to the Break Appearance page to disable the Postpone and Skip buttons for a few seconds.
  • The number of seconds can be changed; it includes the fade-in time.
  • This feature helps break a habitual clicking of the buttons; to encourage you to consider if you really need to skip a break.
  • This is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature, or try for an hour at a time.

This new option is grouped with the option to show the number of times postponed/skipped/done:

Break Appearance page screenshot

Advanced option to change the idle detection threshold

  • Added an option to the Advanced preferences to change the amount of time the computer isn't being used to count as a natural break.
  • By default, it counts a natural break after 1 minute, pausing the countdown for the Pause Countdown and Count Backwards scheduler options, then if still idle after twice as long, it starts giving you credit for the time if Count Backwards is chosen (which is the default).
  • This is a change from before; it used to default to 30 seconds, but 1 minute seems better.
  • If this isn't long enough (e.g. you spend a lot of time reading rather than actively using your Mac), you can increase the threshold.

Take a look:

Advanced page screenshot

Refined the break scheduler

  • The break frequency now can't be less than the duration; it doesn't make sense to work for negative time.
  • The break should no longer be due further away than the frequency, unless you manually skip it multiple times.
  • If a break would be due in the past after rescheduling it, it is now reset. This should fix the issue where a break could sometimes start soon after waking from sleep.
  • Fixed an issue where manually starting a break soon after another one could leave the actions in an unexpected state.

Enhanced postpone and skip limits

  • When a postpone/skip limit is set and has been reached, postponing or skipping via the File menu, action menu, or global keyboard shortcut is now disabled, so the limit can't be bypassed.
  • Fixed the postpone/skip left display when a limit is turned on when already postponed/skipped more than that today.

Preferences window tweaks

  • The Time Out item is now always in the Window menu, to make it easier to re-display the preferences window if closed.
  • When the Dock icon is hidden, and the status item is shown, the status popover will now appear on clicking the mouse, instead of releasing it; a subtle improvement.
  • Can now use the up and down arrow keys and type selection to navigate in the sidebar, e.g. show the preferences window or status popover and press "G" to go to the General options.

Other changes

  • Updated the Start Screensaver and Stop Screensaver script actions, to work more reliably on recent macOS versions. Thanks to Johan Kaving.
  • Removed the help book, since it didn't work properly in recent OS versions. The help is still available on the web, and has been updated for version 2.4.
  • Some tweaks to the supporter stuff, to fix an issue with previous supporter features incorrectly showing as unavailable.
  • Fixed typos in some Break Appearance tooltips.

Get it now!

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.4 now.

Time Out 2.4b4 released

Here's another beta of Time Out version 2.4.

Unless any problems turn up, this will be the last beta release for this version. I'd appreciate it if you could try it and let me know of any issues.

This update just has a couple of changes:

  • Some tweaks to the supporter stuff, to fix an issue with previous supporter features incorrectly showing as unavailable.
  • Updated the help book.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases (if not already), then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.4b4 now!

Time Out 2.4b3 released

Here's another beta of Time Out version 2.4.

This might be the last beta release for this version. I'd appreciate it if you could try it and let me know of any issues.

Here are the changes in this update:

Option to disable buttons for a few seconds

  • Added an option to the Break Appearance page to disable the Postpone and Skip buttons for a few seconds.
  • The number of seconds can be changed; it includes the fade-in time.
  • This feature helps break a habitual clicking of the buttons; to encourage you to consider if you really need to skip a break.
  • This is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature, or try for an hour at a time.

Advanced option to change the idle detection threshold

  • Added an option to the Advanced preferences to change the amount of time the computer isn't being used to count as a natural break.
  • By default, it counts a natural break after 1 minute, pausing the countdown for the Pause Countdown and Count Backwards scheduler options, then if still idle after twice as long, it starts giving you credit for the time if Count Backwards is chosen (which is the default).
  • This is a change from before; it used to default to 30 seconds, but 1 minute seems better.
  • If this isn't long enough (e.g. you spend a lot of time reading rather than actively using your Mac), you can increase the threshold.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases (if not already), then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.4b3 now!

Time Out 2: two years on

Today is the two-year anniversary of the general release of Time Out version 2.0.

This time last year, I wrote a blog post celebrating the first anniversary with some pie charts breaking down the sales of each supporter duration by the direct and Mac App Store editions.

To mark the end of the second year, I thought I'd follow up with another chart; this time looking at the rate and type of repeat support.

The supporter model used by Time Out was a bit of an experiment — would it be feasible and sustainable to have relatively low priced purchase options for specific time periods? People could buy the lowest level (just $2.99), and never pay again. It'd only work if many people instead chose a higher level, and at least some people renewed their support after the initial period expired.

To help encourage that, I reward ongoing support with useful new features that are only available to supporters. New people becoming supporters, and existing people renewing their support, encourages and funds ongoing development. Everybody wins!

So how has it turned out?

Well, looking at a sample of about the last month, here's a table with the percentages for each supporter level, compared with the first purchase and subsequent renewals:

Purchase 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
3-month 49.7% 6.2% 1.3% 0.3% 57.4%
6-month 14.1% 3.1% 0.3% 0.0% 17.4%
12-month 20.0% 4.4% 0.8% 0.0% 25.1%
Total 83.8% 13.6% 2.3% 0.3% 100.0%

Here's a graphical representation of the same values:

As you can see, most people do purchase the cheapest option the first time (almost half), and most people only buy once (83.8%)... but a goodly number do renew (13.6%), with a higher proportion of them opting for 12 months than before. Relatively few have renewed again... but that may be due in part to version 2 of the app only being available for two years, so people who chose a 12-month supporter status for the first or second purchase won't be due yet.

Looking at the raw data does support this; I see many people who chose the 3-month option initially, then opted for 6- or 12-months when they renewed. Very few people purchased 12-month then renewed at a lower level. A noticeable number also chose 3-month each time; paying quarter-to-quarter (though sometimes with some gaps).

Overall, I'm happy with these results. A high proportion of minimal one-time purchasers may seem a little disappointing, but it's to be expected. A large influx of new customers is good for the app. I just need to keep improving it, and hopefully many of them will choose to renew, or at least recommend the app to others, who will also become supporters.

Time will tell how things go, but I consider this encouraging so far.

Time Out 2.4b2 released

Here's a second beta of Time Out version 2.4.

As with the first beta, this is still a work-in-progress; there are a couple more features I want to add for this update, though I might defer one or both.

Here are the changes in this update:

Statistics page improvements

  • Added some text stats above the chart.
  • Replaced the menu button with pop-up menus to choose the count/duration and break to display.
  • When showing All Breaks, the values for each break are now stacked.
  • Now uses the break label colors.
  • Added diamond markers for the data points on the chart.
  • Added tooltips when pointing at the markers to show the actual number.
  • The Duration now shows nicer labels in the vertical axis.
  • Removed the All Counts option, since it doesn't really make sense.
  • Added a Share button to the right of the page buttons, to make it easy to tweet etc the stats.

Other changes

  • Fixed typos in some Break Appearance tooltips.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases (if not already), then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.4b2 now!

About the author

As you may know, Dejal is an indie macOS and iOS app development company, owned by me, David Sinclair, offering apps and consulting services.

You can follow Dejal on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Micro.blog, or via RSS.

If you're curious about the man behind the apps, I recently started a personal blog, where I post random comments on life, the universe, and everything, plus photos of pizzas and other food, my pet cats and dog, and other things.

I'm currently posting a photo every day under the hashtag #dejus365.

You can follow the Dejus site on Twitter, FacebookMicro.blog, or via RSS.

My wife and I also have another company called Yellow Cottage Homestead, with chickens, bees, lavender, and more.  You can follow the homestead on Twitter, FacebookMicro.blog, or via RSS.

Time Out 2.4b1 released

I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Time Out, my indispensable break reminder tool.

Version 2.4 is still a work-in-progress; I have added some new features, and fixed some issues, but will do further enhancements in subsequent betas. I'd appreciate it if you'd join me on this journey, to help ensure that the changes work well.

Read the full release notes for details:

Added a Statistics page under Activity

  • Added page buttons to the Activity page of the preferences, with Activity and Statistics pages.
  • The Activity page is the same as before.
  • The new Statistics page includes a pop-up menu to choose the kind of counter and break(s) to display, and a line chart of count values.
  • The count options include the number of times a break was postponed, skipped, or done in a day, or all three, or the total duration of that break.
  • The menu also enables displaying those counts for all breaks, or just a specific one.
  • The chart will not be shown initially; come back after a couple of days to see it, once some history has been gathered.
  • This feature will be further extended in a subsequent beta release.

Refined the break scheduler

  • The break frequency now can't be less than the duration; it doesn't make sense to work for negative time.
  • The break should no longer be due further away than the frequency, unless you manually skip it multiple times.
  • If a break would be due in the past after rescheduling it, it is now reset. This should fix the issue where a break could sometimes start soon after waking from sleep.
  • Fixed an issue where manually starting a break soon after another one could leave the actions in an unexpected state.

Enhanced postpone and skip limits

  • When a postpone/skip limit is set and has been reached, postponing or skipping via the File menu, action menu, or global keyboard shortcut is now disabled, so the limit can't be bypassed.
  • Fixed the postpone/skip left display when a limit is turned on when already postponed/skipped more than that today.

Preferences window tweaks

  • The Time Out item is now always in the Window menu, to make it easier to re-display the preferences window if closed.
  • When the Dock icon is hidden, and the status item is shown, the status popover will now appear on clicking the mouse, instead of releasing it; a subtle improvement.
  • Can now use the up and down arrow keys and type selection to navigate in the sidebar, e.g. show the preferences window or status popover and press "G" to go to the General options.

Other changes

  • Updated the Start Screensaver and Stop Screensaver script actions, to work more reliably on recent macOS versions. Thanks to Johan Kaving.
  • Removed the help book, since it didn't work properly in recent OS versions. The help is still available on the web.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.4b1 now!

Dejal year in review: 2017

Happy New Year!

As we start a new year, let's review what happened with the Dejal apps in 2017:

My pro app to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, had a couple of minor updates in 2017, to version 4.2.2. It was also one of the foundation apps in the Setapp subscription service, offering a new option for people who prefer getting lots of apps for one low monthly price.
My handy break reminder tool, Time Out, followed up the huge version 2 release in the previous year with a bunch more updates in 2017, including version 2.2, adding a useful activity feature, more themes, and other improvements, and version 2.3, which included much-requested options to limit postpones and skips, show mini pie charts for break labels, and lots of other improvements.
Caboodle, the lean clean snippet machine, finally reached version 2... but not as a Dejal product; it was acquired by Before Dawn Solutions.
BlogAssist, my tool to help with HTML markup, hadn't been updated for a couple of years, and was never all that popular, so with some regret I said goodbye to it in 2017, so I could focus on my more successful apps.
Similarly, I also discontinued Tweeps, an app for iOS to manage Twitter accounts, which was no longer needed with modern Twitter clients.
Pack, a simple iPhone app to make it easy to pack for trips, didn't have any updates in 2017, but I am working on a big update (more below). I use it for every trip, and have a number of improvements planned. Try it for your next trip!
Date Stamp, an iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers, was updated to version 1.0.1. It may or may not be updated again, but works really well as-is. The iMessage store didn't have a very good start, but is more visible in iOS 11. Tell your friends if you like this.
I released a second iMessage app... though this was a pure sticker pack, instead of customizable stickers. Chicken GIFs is a sticker pack featuring many fun animated GIFs of my chickens, which can be used as reactions in messages (chicken butt!).
Chicken butt!

Consulting

On the consulting side, I've done updates for several of my existing clients, but spent most of the year working on an exciting new macOS app, which should see the light of day in the first half of 2018. I can't wait for people to try it.

I am currently fully booked up for the next few months at least, but am always interested in talking with potential new clients. If you have a macOS or iOS project you'd like help with (or a custom Simon enhancement), check out my consulting page for more information.

Looking ahead

2017 has been an interesting year for Dejal, and 2018 should be quite eventful too.

I am currently working on Time Out version 2.4. I also already have version 2.5 and beyond planned out; too many ideas for enhancements! If you have any requests for 2.4 or later, now would be a great time to get in touch (fun fact: I'm more likely to sneak in a request when actively working on the app, though no promises).

Next up I'll probably resume work on a complete rewrite of Pack, my simple packing list app. It was originally written in Objective-C, using some legacy techniques and technologies, but I decided to rewrite it from scratch using Swift and modern approaches. It's usually not a good idea to rewrite working code, but this app is small enough, and the code crusty enough, that I deemed it worthwhile. I use this app every time I travel, so I'm keen to keep it fresh and current, and add some great new features... hopefully including iCloud syncing, though we'll see how that goes.

I also have another new iOS app in the works, which I hope to finish off in early 2018, and another new macOS app I want to get to sometime. So much for focus! But I find it useful and enjoyable to explore new ideas and technologies every so often.

And let's not forget Simon; I have some big enhancements planned for its next release, too.

Finally, as mentioned I'm working on a new app for the consulting side, which will be exciting to get released.

It's going to be another busy year!

Thank you and welcome to my new customers, and many thanks to the long-term customers who are still enjoying my apps. I really appreciate your support.

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