Embroidery Machine Software


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    Continuing the discussion from On starting an unoriginal project:

    @Yamikuronue said:

    I've got like four separate apps worth of rants bottled up here

    So here's the writeup I did but decided not to post on my costuming blog:

    #Emboidery Software Review: Embird

    Embroidery programs are ridiculously expensive, and from the screenshots, aren't necessarily easy to use. So before I spent the money, I decided to snag a trial and make one project, thus giving me a good idea if I could get to use this software. After all, the demo has only a time restriction, no feature restrictions, according to their website:

    embird A screenshot from http://www.embird.net/sw/embird/down64.htm

     

    Hang onto that. I'll come back to it.

    First of all, I installed Embird, the main program. It littered my desktop with icons:

    embird desktop icons

    Okay, I assume it's the one with the big scary elevation shield on it, since I have no idea what the other two icons do. I installed only the main program, as instructed -- so why are there random other icons on my desktop? Sure, whatever. I clicked on the bird and allowed it to elevate.

    embird_unreg_1

    The first paragraph of the dialogue box is as expected. Yes, yes, demo version, okay... wait, what? Click ignore if you want to load all passwords... what? What? How is that ignoring anything? What the fuck? I clicked 'ok'.

    embird_unreg_2

     

     

     

    No, I don't want to register now. Let me in the damn program!

    embird what am i doing

     

    Er... what am I doing? Okay, this seems to be some kind of file browser. I browsed through some files. Very handy for figuring out what files hold what patterns, I guess, but hardly worth $168. The interface is intimidating: I count 28 icon-only buttons across the top bar. From left to right, my guess would be....

    stitches or something... something involving a needle... cross-stitch? Open file, um... copy? Delete, print, maybe some sort of send to machine feature, cut, paste, um... 1:1 scale? something about a screen? 3D mode of some kind? Um... an eye and a picasso nose? I think the rulers are mm versus inches display... Rotate? Trim eyelashes? left and right eye tattoo? Teardrop tattoo? Letters, cursive letters, artistic letters. Paste again, or maybe save? Filesystem browser maybe? Make letters bigger? Big red key is probably "unlock demo".

    And all that before you even get into the menus! Where's my typical File, Options, View...? "Middle panel" would be great if I had any idea what the middle panel was meant to be displaying!

    Somehow, I managed to figure out how to open a file for editing. It's been about three hours since I did that and I can't tell you how to do it, but I managed to figure it out, somehow. The editor's main window is no less intimidating:

    embird main window

     

    In this screenshot I've managed to load the CZU's logo into the editor. I don't know how to make it go away, but I learned how to make it appear: Image -> Import Image. Cool, I thought to myself. I'll just let it automatically convert into an embroidery pattern. There's a convert image button, right?

    Here's the first snag: I have a Brother PE770, which has a 5" by 7" hoop. The default hoop size it wants me to use for some reason is 100mm by 100mm. Okay, so I just need to adjust it, right?

    embird_hoops_1

    ....Have these clowns never heard of a goddamn combo box?! Oh wait, no, clearly they have:

    embird_hoops_2

     

    Okay, so if I can just enter the size, why have four fucking tabs worth of radio buttons!? Ok, fine, I get my damn hoop size picked, and I go back to the image. At this point I'd grabbed a tutorial which mentioned resizing the image so it fits in my hoop. The manual says I'm looking at 180mm by 130mm, so I make the image slightly narrower than 130mm since it's wider than it is tall. Voila. Now the auto convert button.

    embird convert resultOk, that's.... maybe it won't look that bad stitched? Let's find out. I try to save as a .pes so it can be read by my machine.

    Only to encounter a frusturating dialogue informing me that some of the stitches were outside the 100mm x 100mm area allowed for stitching in this file format. First of all, the fucking FILE FORMAT dictates the fucking HOOP SIZE?! Secondly, I CHANGED my motherfucking hoop size! Are you seriously telling me that my machine, the second cheapest model I could find that's widely available for home consumers, does not even exist?! And I know it's not brand fucking new, because the damn manual for the USB drive feature includes instructions on how to eject a USB pendrive in Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. Bull fucking shit.

    Whatever. I'll make it tiny. I shrink the image to just under 100mm wide, and save. Let's get that stitched.

    No, this is bullshit.

    So I poke around and I look at some forums and it turns out that what I want, what I really really want, is the Studio plugin, which lets me actually create designs. As opposed to the editor, which..... I don't fucking know, really. I managed to paste three letters together to create a monogram in one file so I don't have to tweak the placement every time, but that's hardly worth $160 either, so I'm at a loss.

    Whatever. Plugin download time. The studio plugin costs another $150, so off the bat, this is now costing double what it advertised. Now I understand what "plugin" means to them: "essential feature you need to pay extra for", as opposed to "useful but niche item like Iconizer" which fuck if I know what it does but it seems to be not an essential part of the editing process.

    Anyway, so I get Studio 2015, which is a "Digitizing plug-in for Embird", which contains two plugins (!!!): " Digitizing Tools and Sfumato Stitch". "To turn into full version, each module needs its own password," the website informs me, which means more $$$ and I don't even fucking know if I like it yet. So I install and I open studio and I spend a few hours working on this thing.

    I want an outline, since the logo is a line drawing. I eventually figure out how to trace the shape, creating a vector file which can be exported as an SVG (one file for each shape!!!!!), and then configure the stitch generator to make a "satin stitch" because that looks fancier than a straight border stitch. I then try to toy with some other options. The tutorial helpfully informs me that to close the shape, which is required for a "fill" shape, I have to make the last point somewhere off in space and then drag it on top of the first one, or else it'll select the first point. Isn't that useful.

    I tried using the "column" tool as well. See those little column shapes in between the windows on the gondola? I grabbed the column tool, clicked in the upper left corner, then lower left, then lower right, then upper right. Wrong move. It says I only have one side, and I need two for a column. What? Readers, I fought with this tool for maybe 45 minutes. I managed to get it to let me accept the shape if I click "create second edge". One time that even made an edge along where I'd drawn my lines, creating a three-sided boxy shape. More commonly, though, it would shove the extra points way off into the middle of space, making some abstract curved shape. Which is nice and all but not the fucking box I wanted. Eventually I figured out the secret: It needs to go upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right. Sure. What the fuck ever.

    I tried using the text tool to put in the letters. I even changed colors for the banner and letters, so I could stitch them in separate colors. I was feeling right proud of myself: all I had to do was put in the lettering and voila, I'd be golden.

    embird font tool

    ...what? I start typing. Nothing happens. WTF am I doing? This tutorial page wasn't helpful: none of those items were on my screen. Frusturated, I decided to back out by pressing cancel.... and the entire bottom half of the zeppelin disappeared. Yup. It had somehow cancelled the last two fill shapes, four border shapes, and sixteen manual-stitch items I'd placed down. WTF!

    So I decided, after this happened a few times, not to do the banner at all, just the top bit. Why not, I figured.

    embird studio main screen

     

     

    Easily four or five hours of work, ladies and gentlemen. Their stitch preview function is also really nice, as it helped me visualize what I was working with:embird studio resultAwesome, right! I can't wait to go plug it into my machine and try it out. Maybe I can learn to work with the frustration after all, if this turns out half as nice as it looks like it'll be.

    So why is the save button greyed out?

    ...And so is the "export to editor" button that should bring me back to the main editor where I can fuck around with hoop sizes and save it as whatever format I want....?

    Oh no.

    Don't tell me.

    THE FUCKING DEMO BLURB LIED TO ME. I CANNOT SAVE IN THE STUDIO IN THE DEMO.

    Fuck this. I am done. There has got to be a better solution. Their UI is terrible, their options don't fucking work, fuck this, I'm out.

     


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    My second attempt:

    #6D Embroidery

    Okay, so I keep hearing about this 6D software. Well, at some point it was 4D, but I guess there's been two versions since then. Anyway, I'm pretty hyped, it looks really cool:

    6D site 1

     

    Oh boy, awesome! I click "Purchase center", hoping to get a feel for the cost.

    6D site 2

    Yay more advertisement info! Just get to the price tag, please.

    6D site 3

    Yup, that's probably what I want! Buy now.

    6D site 4Er.... okay... what? Um, Current System, none. I want to buy your software.

    6D site 5

    ...okay. Thanks. Guess I'm not allowed? "Buy Now" doesn't work, it's greyed out.

    And that was my experience with 6D.

     


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    And finally, something that was (shut up discotoaster) reasonable:

    #Sew What Pro

    Next on my list: a cheap little program called Sew What. It retails for $65, around half the price of Embird. I downloaded a 30 day free trial and popped open the installer:

    sew what installer

     

    Well that's always a good sign. Definitely puts me in mind of professional, slick software. Once I got it all installed, I popped it open

    sew what first screen

    Man, what is it with embroidery software and a billion cryptic buttons? What I like though are the tips on the right and the comprehensive help file.

    sew what help

    The very first paragraph of the introduction told me this wasn't the tool I needed: it didn't list converting images to embroidery files. There's a second tool in the suite that does that: Sew Art, for $75. All told, still less than just the base for Embird.

    A first try at using Sew Art:

    sew what first pass

    The best thing here is the Wizard. The help file, under "getting started" suggests that you run Posterize if you're using a messy image, which helps reduce noise, then run the image wizard to work the file into shape before doing the stitches. It also has simple editing tools -- eraser, pencil, paintbrush -- to allow for minor tweaks, which is handy if the wizard accidentally messes up some of the lines because they're too faint.

    I decided also to convert the image to svg, since that was part of what Embird did. A second pass, this time with an svg file and using a running stitch:

    sew what using vector

    Too bad the text wasn't legible. Some more tweaking of the SVG, a little fill in some of the solid areas, and erasing that darn banner provided something I could live with. Best of all, Sew What let me put some of the text back in: not the banner underneath, which I figured would be harder than I wanted to spend on this demo, but the "CZU" in the blimp balloon:

    sew what final try

     

    And, best of all, I could SAVE! The final test:

    The text glitched out on me; it apparently tried to stitch 1500 times in the exact same spot, causing Chaos some trouble digging it out of the machine. Oops. Definitely needs some tweaking -- for one, I'd like to clean up the cabin area some more -- but this I can bring to the CZU admin meeting to discuss potential uses :)

    This software is definitely not as nice. There's far fewer features, and the interface is just as crude, but the help files are well written, and the simpler features are clearly marked so I can get going fast and then make tweaks as things come up. At half the cost, I think I might just buy this one, but I'm still going to shop around a little more before I spend any money.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    popped open the installer:

    Is... Is that a WordArt in that logo? Jesus, haven't seen those in the wild since Office still had Schedule+ around.



  • I didn't even know this sort of software existed.

    Anyway, is it so hard to build this thing? Seems like a cheap ass MSPaint clone with some pixel-to-point transformation.

    And that installer window... If someone who made that can make this software... Challenged!


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    Sure, what's the format for a PES file? It seems like SVG -> PES is the most common transformation, so I bet they're similar.

    Looks like maybe http://www.achatina.de/sewing/main/TECHNICL.HTM has details?


  • sockdevs

    So looks like all you really need is a converter than turns SVG into PES. Then you can just use InkScape or something to make the design.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    Yeah, but see, remember what happened when I tried to auto-convert?

    Stitching order is super important!



  • Your gasbag is about a fifth the size it needs to be to lift that cabin.

    @Yamikuronue said:

    blimp balloon

    UGH as a fan of zeppelins you're KILLING me here. I am literally dying.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    Pedantry noted. I didn't draw it, tho :) It's the logo for the group I'm in.



  • That may be a problem, but there must be ways around it. You might have to brush up on graph theory, but it can't be too bad. This is also a situation where i'd look at some package manager to see if some random linux person has done this for some reason.





  • Now experiencing mid-90's Borland nostalgia...



  • BTW I went to 6D's website:

    Visit your local authorized HUSQVARNA VIKING® or PFAFF® sewing machine dealer to purchase the 6D™ Embroidery System package of your choice. Find your local dealer using the Dealer Locator on your country's website or use the links below.

    You have to literally go to a store and buy a disk. Why?

    Please note: You must accept the license terms before you can use this software. This product also requires dongle activation via the Internet.

    So you can get the dongle you need to activate it!

    The "purchase center" is only for:

    Purchase upgrades and additional modules from your local dealer or on the Internet at the Embroidery Software Purchase Center

    EDIT: But don't worry, there's one on Amazon for the low, low price of $1600:



  • Oh and did you notice:

    1. She definitely has the look of someone who's being held at gunpoint. The mouth says "I'm happy with this software" but the eyes say, "please don't shoot my grandson!"

    2. That "photo" appears to be composed of a large tiling of 120x80 pixel images. Poorly-fitted together, since you can obviously see the seams. I'm guessing Bob's Discount Installer and Hereford Stud Service doesn't let you put decent-sized photos in your installers.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Visit your local authorized HUSQVARNA VIKING® or PFAFF® sewing machine dealer

    We don't have time for a bunch of PFAFF®ing about!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Okay, I assume it's the one with the big scary elevation shield on it, since I have no idea what the other two icons do. I installed only the main program, as instructed -- so why are there random other icons on my desktop?

    So this is what a Blakeyrant looks like without swears. I can hardly wait to see what's below!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    PES file format spec.

    Not knowing much about sewing, but knowing quite a bit about SVG and other vector formats, this is NOWHERE even remotely close. Which explains the... loose interpretations.

    Doesn't look too hard to drive. If I had a machine to experiment with on my desk at work, I'd give it two weeks to POC and a few months to a fully fleshed out manual editor.

    Conversion from traditional vector graphics, though, would be quite a lot harder.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Man, what is it with embroidery software and a billion cryptic buttons?

    Sounds like the usual problem with any category of software: once somebody has set a standard, everyone else makes their products follow much the same conventions regardless. Probably in the case of niche software like this, it’s because users kind of expect things to look and work like this, even if it’s stupid.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Embroidery programs are ridiculously expensive, and from the screenshots, aren't necessarily easy to use

    That seems to be the case for all specialized software. Low demand + hard requirements for specialized algorithms = few developers = crappy software. Necessary for some businesses = we can easily crank the price up a couple hundred (or thousand (or hundred thousand)) dollars.




  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @FrostCat said:

    without swears.

    Didn't last long.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Your gasbag is about a fifth the size it needs to be to lift that cabin.

    UGH as a fan of zeppelins you're KILLING me here. I am literally dying.


    Since you're pendanting here, I'll just observe that you have a curious dangling modifier. You're actually accusing Yami of being a fan of zeppelins, and I'd note also that blimps and zeppelins are different things, which, of course, you'd know if you were a fan... And one last bit of pendantry: since you are "literally dying", when is the funeral?

    ;)


  • BINNED

    @Yamikuronue said:

    creating a vector file which can be exported as an SVG (one file for each shape!!!!!)

    :wtf:

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Eventually I figured out the secret: It needs to go upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right.

    Sounds like Inkscape's perspective tool. Picky bastard...

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Their UI is terrible

    Those icons do seem familiar though. They nicked it from... somewhere. I'm pretty sure I saw those icons using some kind of default icon set on Gnome. Are they Gnome 2's default icons? I think they might be. The whole thing has a slight GTK vibe to it, too. I'm not sure it is, but might as damned well be. Is it at least multiplatform? Because it better be, not using default control set from what I can see.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @Onyx said:

    Is it at least multiplatform?

    Embird for Windows can be used also on Mac with OS X operating system *. However, Windows operating system must be added to the Mac to allow Embird run in its native environment.


  • sockdevs

    So… basically, it's a Windows-only program


  • BINNED

    @Yamikuronue said:

    >Embird for Windows can be used also on Mac with OS X operating system *. However, Windows operating system must be added to the Mac to allow Embird run in its native environment.

    Well, so much for that idea.

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Yeah, but see, remember what happened when I tried to auto-convert?

    SVG to PES is another matter, but let me just test at what I can get out of Inskcape by just tweaking the sliders...

    Well, that took... a minute?

    It's also a single path, too. I don't know if the software would like it in any way, but damn it, just to prove that it's not that hard to get this shit right for simple drawings such as yours.

    Note that I pretty much touched nothing in default settings. I'm sure I could get something better if I wasted more time on it.


  • BINNED

    @Steve_The_Cynic said:

    since you are "literally dying", when is the funeral?

    Everything that is alive and not immortal is literally dying. Doesn't necessarily mean we know when they will die


  • BINNED

    Oooh! Pendant battle. Let me get my axe!



  • It can also be used on Linux, provided you install Windows in a VM or in a different partition and then use that instead.



  • Given the topic of discussion, the following pendant seems more apt:



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said:

    And one last bit of pendantry: since you are "literally dying", when is the funeral

    Ugh, "literally" does not have to literally mean literally, get with the times man.


  • BINNED

    @anonymous234 said:

    Ugh, "literally" does not have to literally mean literally, get with the times man.

    Now you're just being ironic.


  • sockdevs

    A search for 'Piko Hammer pendant' was disappointing… until I found this:

    #WANT



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said:

    I'll just observe that you have a curious dangling modifier.

    That's what she said.



  • I wonder how many programs will break once Microsoft retires the Windows 3.1 file selection control...


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    I'm just glad I took those screenshots on my desktop where I won't leak my name again XD

    "Frankie" is the computer's name, not any user's :)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Didn't last long.

    I know, but I didn't want to make the obvious followup post.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said:

    I'm just glad I took those screenshots on my desktop where I won't leak my name again XD

    You know your name and pictures are all over the CZU website, right? :smile:



  • @anonymous234 said:

    That seems to be the case of all specialized software. Low demand + hard requirements for specialized algorithms = few developers = crappy software. Necessary for some businesses = we can easily crank the price up a couple hundred (or thousand (or hundred thousand)) dollars.

    Tell me about it. Before software development, I went to school for printing, and part of the curriculum was a few classes with some printshop management software. At the time I thought it was the worst software I'd ever seen, although now I can't remember much about it other than that every interaction had to be done from one of x non-modal windows, which in practice had to be operated one at a time, because they would overwrite each other's data if you had more than one open.

    Maybe some time I'll find the demo and see if I can put together a thread like this about it.

    PS: Of course the software costs thousands of dollars. How could it be any other way?


  • BINNED

    I think it's a matter of making it so that involves at least some effort. And ability to use logical thinking.

    I mean, that filters out about 90% of Internet users. At least that's the impression I usually get.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @FrostCat said:

    So this is what a Blakeyrant looks like without swears

    Impossible by definition.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @antiquarian said:

    Impossible by definition.

    I was going to rewrite what I'd written in a more pendantic tone, but fuck it, I'm just going to give you a :flags: instead.



  • @VinDuv said:

    I wonder how many programs will break once Microsoft retires the Windows 3.1 file selection control...

    ... which will probably be around 2059 for precisely this reason.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Scarlet_Manuka said:

    ... which will probably be around 2059 for precisely this reason.

    What's going to happen at 9pm?


  • sockdevs

    @PJH said:

    What's going to happen at 9pm?

    Server cooties #cheapshot



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Ugh, "literally" does not have to literally mean literally, get with the times man.

    I'm well aware that there is a rising tide of ignorance of the meanings of words, and that we cannot stop it, but that doesn't mean I can't make fun of it...

    There's a similar rising tide of ignorance of basic principles of spelling and/or grammar, and it is equally hard to stop. In both cases, there are certain things that everyone misdoes in the same way, and others that are less well-shared. These latter are an obstacle to communication.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @RaceProUK said:

    Server cooties #cheapshot

    Why are they going to be late today? #cheapershot


  • sockdevs

    @PJH said:

    Why are they going to be late today? #cheapershot

    I never said they'd be late :stuck_out_tongue: #cheapestshot


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    So apparently embird updated their website a couple months ago and more clearly spell out what's limited in the demos.

    I took those screenshots and ran the demo back in January >.>


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