5 Ways to plan your day using Ink Calendar

1. Start the day with some Journaling

It should be no surprise a major use of Ink Calendar and Journal is open pages where free journaling can occur easily and naturally. A good way to prime yourself for the day is to journal about your day to get your thoughts out of your head and in front of you. Give it a try, make a new morning journal and take 10mins at the beginning of your day to write your thoughts out.

2. Get an overview of your week

Looking at your week view provides quick insight into how a week’s overall going to feel. Bogged down with appointments every 15mins? Have lots of open free time? The hectic feeling of a week can change drastically from week to week. So early on I like to take an overview of what my week is looking like. Do I have a trip the upcoming weekend? Are my evenings full? All these questions are answered at a glance in the week view.

3. Find blocks of open time and block it out

Free time is a valuable thing when there is work to be done. Frequently that time can get chopped up with meetings, but if you block out chunks of time to focus and get work done, hopefully a more productive flow can be achieved. Ink Calendar makes it easy to plan out chunks of time and keep it for focused work.

4. Write down the little things

Most of the time when looking at a calendar we leave off little things like lunch break, or when you are planning on leaving, but with Ink Calendar there is no need to make official appointments. Just writing out all the little things can help make a day or week plan feel complete and more accurate to how the day actually goes.

5. The classic to-do list

It is hard to beat the simplicity and effectiveness of a to-do list. Ink Calendar enables quick, easy, and chill to-do lists without all the strict details other apps require. Rearranging a list is super easy with a tap and drag. Since it is ink first, Ink Calendar and Journal is an open canvas to draw inspiration, sketches, or more detailed plans.

These are some of the ways I use Ink Calendar every day to be more productive, how do you use it?

Joe

Goodbye AppCenter.

I am publishing an update tonight which removes Visual Studio AppCenter. I have narrowed a persistent bug to the UWP AppCenter package, so now I must cut it out. This was done by turning off AppCenter when Ink Calendar initializes. Removing this package has an added benefit of Ink Calendar now launching faster, and hopefully crash free.

As always, feel free to reach out if you are having any type of issue, I would love to help.

Joe

App hanging at launch? Here’s the fix!

I have had a couple of users email me saying that Ink Calendar does not open any longer. The app will show the loading screen for a while, then close. I had been confused because these crashes were not showing up in my app analytics tool AppCenter, then it happened to me and here is the fix!

  1. Navigate to this folder:
C:\Users\<insert your user folder name here> \AppData\Local\Packages\40087JoeFinApps.InkCalendar_b262nqv4g3cq4\LocalState
  1. And delete the file “Microsoft.AppCenter.Storage” (or move it to your desktop or somewhere if you don’t want to delete it)
  2. Open Ink Calendar, now it should work fine.

This solution is much easier than manually backing up and restoring the app and its data. I am not sure why the AppCenter data is causing the app to crash or how this state occurs. Mostly I am just glad I figured out what was causing some users pain and I was able to fix it.

Let me know if this works for you!

Joe

Fixing Every Single Bug

As Ink Calendar has evolved over the years it has become a surprisingly complex app. There are different flavors of complexity and different ways to expect and handle what is going on in the app. Some of the types of complexity found in Ink Calendar:

  • Date Time
  • Regional and language
  • File access and saving
  • Settings data validation
  • Memory leaks
  • Broken Windows APIs
  • Control formatting and layouts
  • Rapid control creation
  • Bad error messages
  • Overly simplistic feedback

Each one of these types of issues poses their own challenges to solve and catch before Ink Calendar crashes. Solving a single bug report can take a huge amount of effort and before the work begins it can be difficult to predict the amount of effort needed.

Data from users or Microsoft AppCenter crash reports is invaluable when it comes to making progress in a timely manner. So much of bug reports however end up being “Unspecified Error” or “The error message for this failure could not be found” etc. The best thing is getting an email from a users who has an error and working with them to get it fixed!

I am the only one working on Ink Calendar, so progress is limited by my time, but I am dedicated to fixing every bug I can identify! Please reach out via email or “Contact Me” on this website. I always love hearing from users!

Joe

Journals are in 2.3 and they are awesome!

I have been hard at work on the next feature version of Ink Calendar. This version is bringing Journals, a feature which many users have requested for a while now. Unlike the other calendar views Journals do not have dates and are not tied to dates in any way. There are a few different styles to choose from and offer the flexibility to make Ink Calendar work for you!

Journal Builder Page
Bullet Journal and Graph paper backgrounds

The app has been submitted to the Microsoft Store now all I do is wait! As always thank you for using Ink Calendar and it brings me so much joy knowing people use this app every day!

Joe

Small update and big work begins

A couple of new features and bug fixes are rolling out in Ink Calendar 2.2.21. The features are focused on improving making Custom Views easier to find and jump to. Hopefully this makes them more useful for more people. For bug fixes this update focuses on syncing updates and making the multi-device experience more reliable.

Up next for Ink Calendar I will begin working on the most requested feature of Ink Calendar, more pages for writing.

Joe

What is next for Ink Calendar 2.3+

I have been working on bug fixes and planning the next slate of features for Ink Calendar.

New Features being planned and designed

  • More space for writing
  • Extra writing pages
  • Week numbers more places
  • Text on views
    • Clickable Hyperlinks
  • Surface more Custom Views
  • More?
    • Leave a comment or email me if you have another idea you’d like to see added!

Bugs or Issues being worked on

  • Appointment Management Bug in Windows
  • Use latest Microsoft Identity packages
  • Use WinUI 2.7
  • Improving defaults to be more of what people expect
  • Better explanations in the app
    • How Ink Calendar gets appointments
    • How to add or remove accounts
    • How to sync ink etc.
  • General bug fixes
    • Custom Views not updating when changing view settings
    • Reducing memory usage
    • More tests for different elements on the app
    • Better cloud sync error management

I hope Ink Calendar has been working well for you! Feel free to reach out if you have anything you’d like to share.

Joe

Windows’ AppointmentManager Bug

Windows has a bug when it comes to the AppointmentStore API. Somehow the AppointmentManager gets into a bad state which fails to acknowledge new appointments, and fails to provide updated appointment information. This means when adding an appointment Ink Calendar has no way of getting that new appointment data back from Windows 10.

How does this affect you?

When adding appointments to Ink Calendar they will not refresh or show up even when restarting the app. Ideally this is the worst case, but in some cases this bug results in Ink Calendar crashing.

What is being done about this?

I have made a separate app to demonstrate the several bugs within the AppointmentManger API but Microsoft has failed to acknowledge these bugs. When submitting a crash report through the Feedback Hub when this issues was being demonstrated Microsoft dismissed the feedback and did not provide guidance or any updates.

A post has been made to the Microsoft Q&A website on how to best “refresh” the AppointmentManager to stop getting stale data, but no progress has been made there.

What will happen?

It is unclear if this bug will ever get the attention required to be fixed. In the mean time Ink Calendar should work and not crash, but will occasionally have old calendar data. I have experienced this bug on Windows 11 as well, so the fix is not on the horizon as far as I can tell. I will continue working to find a solution, but in the mean time feel free to reach out to Microsoft, file feedback, and let the company know how this bug is affecting you.

Thanks for sticking with Ink Calendar through this pain. And if you have a fix for this bug please reach out, support at inkcalendar dot com, comment below, or tweet at me TheJoeFin.

Joe

Obsessing over bug fixes and performance

For the last several versions of Ink Calendar I have been focusing on fixing bugs. I am trying to do everything in my power to fix every single instance of crashing and performance issues. Watching every crash in AppCenter and doing what I can to understand and fix the root cause.

Stability ebbs and flows due to me rearchitecting the app to be more robust overall. One major source of crashes in the past month were related to me using a different system for triggering timers. This new system was the modern way of having reoccurring checks for new ink in the cloud and loading and syncing. I have since been able to refine my implementation and have seen crashes reduce significantly.

Another major area of focus has always been memory usage and the speed for views to load. With the next update (2.2.17) I’ll be rolling out a new cache method when switching between views. In my testing this new method is robust and reduces possible memory leaks from switching back and forth between views.

With any new addition like this the risk of bugs being introduced is high. However, the opposite is also very possible. Ideally with fewer objects hanging around in memory doing strange things Ink Calendar should be more stable. I test Ink Calendar on three devices in a variety of different ways. In addition to manual testing I write unit tests to ensure methods are robust and fault tolerant.

Hopefully you’ve stuck around over the years while I’ve been working on Ink Calendar. I want to believe the app has become a great app and delivers way more value to users. As always, I’m open to any feedback or suggestions. Just email support at inkcalendar dot com.

Joe

Is Google Ads a scam for indie developers?

It sure feels like it.

Ink Calendar is a hobby project for me. I work as a mechanical engineer for my primary income. I would love to be an indie Windows app developer full time, but it doesn’t seem like that is in my near future. I am frequently trying out new ways to get Ink Calendar in front of potential users. An easy way this can be done is use online advertising.

In early May of 2021 I launched a Google Ads campaign for Ink Calendar. The ad directed people to this blog InkCalendar.com where the “Get From Microsoft” button is right at the top eager to be clicked. I ran the campaign for 3 weeks and spent $179 for around 883 clicks and 55k impressions.

To judge the ads performance I used the stats from WordPress, and initially I was impressed… then I dug a little deeper. Here are the WordPress stats around the time of the ad campaign:

Week ofViewsVisitors
3/1/20217444
3/8/202110374
3/15/202110258
3/22/20219765
3/29/20218660
4/5/20219461
4/12/2021180103
4/19/20219453
4/26/20218048
5/3/20217750
5/10/2021 (campaign begins)308350
5/17/2021477388
5/24/2021 (campaign ends)495390
5/31/20219358
6/7/202111658

At first look these stats are impressive! The weeks during the ad campaign had on average 6x more traffic! Exactly what I wanted! However I did notice there was not a similar increase in app downloads, so I checked to see if these new visitors were clicking on the link to get the app. Here are those numbers:

Week ofViewsVisitorsStore Clicks% of visitors click
3/1/202174441023%
3/8/2021103742128%
3/15/2021102581729%
3/22/202197651218%
3/29/202186601118%
4/5/202194611525%
4/12/20211801031717%
4/19/202194531325%
4/26/202180481123%
5/3/20217750714%
5/10/2021 (campaign begins)308350216%
5/17/2021477388195%
5/24/2021 (campaign ends)495390154%
5/31/20219358712%
6/7/2021116581424%

These numbers were pretty shocking to me. The weeks during the ad campaign had no significant change in store link clicks. In fact when looking at what percentage of visitors clicked the store links the ad campaign had terrible performance.

I am aware advertising for Ink Calendar is not the same as general business advertising. Plumbers or restaurants in an area use ads to win customers from their very similar looking competition. I’m still not completely sure what is going on with this or what to make of these numbers. But here are the things I know for sure:

  • I am no closer to being a full time indie dev
  • I will never use Google Ads to promote Ink Calendar again

A side anecdote, I would wake up around 6:00am Central Time and by that time there were already a large number of views to Ink Calendar for that day. The ad only ran in the US and the new traffic to this blog was also only from the US. I cannot understand why I’d have a couple hundred of view before the day had even begun. Very suspicious in my opinion.

Let me know what you think, either in the comments below or on twitter @theJoeFin

Joe