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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,
I've just bought a Brother PR-650 and am getting an embroidery business started. I've read a lot of posts on these forums about digitizing and know that I can expect it to be a couple of years before I'm any good at it.
However, I want to learn how to do it myself so I've been trying to choose the correct software.
The problem I'm finding is that all products say they're the best but comparrisions between them are impossible to find. I found one from "Designs in Machine Embroidery" online somewhere which did a good comparrison of price and features, but it's from mid 2008.

So what I'm trying to find is
1) Are there any current software comparrisons out there that anyone knows about?

2) Of all the software I'm reading about, the majority of people seem to be saying either "buy wilcom" (which is $6000AU and not in my price range - besides which as a novice there's no way I could make use of the features for a long time yet so it would be mostly wasted money) or "use Embird". Judging a book by its cover, Embird looks "cheap" and aimed at the home sewers market.
Can I use Embird (comparititively about 10% of the cost of Wilcom) to do stuff on a semi-professional level? Can you use it to produce a professional design?
 

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For the price you can not go wrong with Embird. It is a good product. Learn with it . The basics are the same with most software Then when you decide if digitizing is really for you will know enough to evaulation the expensive softwares. You would be amazed at the number of people who are just like you a new machine want to do their own designs, buy expensive software and never use it because it takes a long time to get good at digitizing . You can buy wonderful designs very cheap any more.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply! Is Embird really limited in any way though? I'm aware that I won't use the capabilities of the highest end products, but I'd rather not waste the money if one of the others (for example Pulse - 3-4x the price of Embird or Brother's PE Design (2 x the price) which looks more professional than Embird based on their product literature, but seems to have less features) would be better in the medium term.

I want to buy something decent enough to be capable of semi-professional level digitizing without spending too much money. I'll spend for the quality (within reason) though.
 

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Embird is a quality program used by both professional and hobby digitizers. I have been digitizing for years and have used Wilcom, Pulse, and Embird, and now use Embird exclusvely. It does not lack in features--I have never found anything I wanted to do and couldn't do with Embird that I could do with Wilcom. No matter which software you choose, whether it is "professional" or not depends mostly with you and your skill. I get great sewouts on my both Tajima and my Viking with designs I've digitized with Embird.

There are great tutorials available for Embird, for both novices and advanced users. Check out Carolyn Keber's tutorials at Tutorials By Carolyn Keber and Amy Webster's at Embird Studio. There are also several very active yahoo groups dedicated to Embird, full of people who are generous with their knowledge.

Good luck.

Liz
 

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I briefly tried using Embird and it didn't make any sense to me at the time. We bought PE-Design when we bought our PR-600. I also have Embroidery Office Design Maxx which we got with our SWF. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Find one that has all the features you think you might need and then spend your time learning how to use it properly.
 

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As already stated, you cannot go wrong with Embird.

I do not digitize, however, I do hoard designs. :D

MANY of the professional digitizers I buy from use Embird. I have Embird because I use it to manipulate my already digitized designs. I would say the learning curve is VERY small. I bought the program, took a couple of free, online tutorials, and was tweaking designs within a day or 2. And this was when I was BRAND new to embroidery, so I basically had NO CLUE what i was doing.

With Brother, you are paying for the name. It may *look* more professional, but that says nothing about the actual program. Balasard (developer of Embird) spends the time to continuously upgrade and make Embird more and more functional, as opposed to advertising, etc.

If I were you, just starting out, I would start with Embird. Cannot go wrong--you will love the product and it's plug-ins.

No affiliation, just a VERY satisfied customer.:p

YMMV
 

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Hi,

Try Stitch ERA Universal. It is a FREE version of Stitch ERA Liberty (commercial software). The only two limitations is it requires an internet connection so some small ads can be displayed. And each design is limited to a total of 40,000 stitches. You can get it from zoom_monster (member here) at his website imprimeo.net - there is also a very active Yahoo group that provides support for this.

-James
 

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The biggest thing missing from Stitch Era Universal is they blocked the ability to display the simulated version of the design as it would stitch out.

I have their Sierra Design Maxx version on one machine and SEU on my other machine. Drives me nuts when I can't see the simulated version on the SEU machine. EO also won't work with remote desktop so I can't view it on the other machine, I have to physically go downstairs to the shop to view it on the other machine... very annoying...
 

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I am also new to embroidery and purchased a PR-650 myself almost two months ago. I went with the PE-design 8.0 at the time. and so far I have been very happy with it. It is very user friendly and seems to go hand in hand with learning and using the PR-650.

I am concentrating more on learning my machine and embroidering well than I am on learning outright digitizing, but I have been very happy with PE-Design and can't imagine learning the machine without the benefit of using this program while doing so.

It is helpful to be able to re-size a design and be able to change the stitch counts when doing so. It has been great at allowing me to edit designs, so I can delete and/or add things to designs. Being able change the type of stiches and change/add under-laying stitches to things has been great. Creating my own lettering/monogram for items has been a breeze, and amazingly I have even been able to play around creating a couple very simple designs just for fun.

I have virtually no experience in this industry so take this advice for what it is worth, but I feel buying the PE-design along with the PR-650 has been worth every penny and has helped me to understand the most basics of what digitizing does. I think with time as I continue to try and learn to embroider with my machine to the best of my ability my knowledge of digitizing will increase as well and I think it will be a long time before I outgrow the limitation of PE-design. If I ever do, or by the time I do outgrow PE-design I am sure I will be much better able to decide whether it will be worth it for me to spend more on another program, or if so which one.

Good luck
 

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I use Embird and have for years. It does everything I need for it to do.

That said, the interface is not very natural... actually somewhat bass-ackward in a couple of ways. You have to expect to warm up to that, but the product is otherwise very good in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
where can I buy this software Embird?
Official Web Site of Embird Software Authors

My thoughts so far for anyone looking at this forum (feel free to comment!)

I've loaded the trial versions of both Brother and Embird on my computer and am playing around with them at the moment. (I'll load Stitch Era shortly to try it too.)

I know professional digitizers don't use the auto-digitising function, but I'm not a professional yet so it was my starting point as I know barely anything about manually digitizing at this point.

As forum posts I'd read all agreed, the auto-digitising doesn't seem very good (at least on those two products). Complex designs just turn into a mess. They might sew out looking like the original design (I haven't tested that yet) but the stitch patterns look to me like a nightmare.

One thing I did notice in Brother's favour though was in digitizing a bmp image of lettering. Taking the letter "C" as an example, Embird basically made the letter up with just stiches at a 45 degree angle until it had filled it all in. Brother on the other hand had horizontal lines in the middle, going through the angles to vertical then back to horizontal again - the way the embroidered fonts I've looked at all seem to be done.

My thoughts so far :
* If I go with the theory that to start with I'll need to auto-digitize then correct the auto-digitized design to get rid of the major flaws, then Brother is winning.
* Judging based on the professional feeling of the user interface, Brother is winning.
* Judging based on cost (and the fact that I can find lots of people saying "Use Embird" and very few saying "Use Brother") then Embird is winning.

I've still got all sorts of things to evaluate in the packages before making a decision (like their tools for push/pull compensation, thread library size, number of fill patterns each can do etc) - but if people who digitize regularly could tell me which features they use on a regular basis (in whatever software product you use) that will help me in my comparrison. It will also help me see what one product has that the other is missing.
 

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Choosing Your Software
1. Who is your target market?
2. What type of designs do they require - simple or complex?
3. Is the design mainly text or colourful logo?

From this you should be able to make a list of must have features. Then look for the software that has this.

For example,
If most of your customers are going to require text based designs, then lettering software will do the job and you can sub out the digitising for logo jobs.

Depends on your location as well.
If you are city based then you will likely have majority business customers with fairly simple design needs.
If on the other hand, you are in a rural setting, then you will probably get a lot of animals/vegetables to digitise, as a result you will need more features to get the detail (fur etc).

*Auto digitise is only useful if you have vector based art that has solid colour fills and areas clearly defined. If you try and use bitmaps as your primary art, it will ultimately be a waste of your time as you will have to redo it from scratch anyway.

user interface - whatever software you choose, you will get used to it. They are all different and have no bearing on the final stitch quality.

Cost - Always a big one.
Like a lot of things, you get what you pay for. having said that, dearer is not always better.

Look at after sales support. Not just who has the most user forums. ;)

You mentioned Wilcom in an earlier post, Australian company based in Sydney. So a customer support call will be a local call.

I would cast my net wider than just these forums, if you haven't already. Go to the yahoo groups for each of the software you are considering and have read through the posts to see if there are any major issues at present. Are the users happy with the product.
In the end, it will be whatever works for you and what you can afford.

Personally, I now use Wilcom. I made the change a couple of years ago after using another brand of software. The original software was good, but the stitch quality I got from Wilcom was much better.

In the end, it will be what works for you.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Choosing Your Software
1. Who is your target market?
2. What type of designs do they require - simple or complex?
3. Is the design mainly text or colourful logo?

From this you should be able to make a list of must have features. Then look for the software that has this.
And therein lies the problem.
I have a small target market at the moment, but like everyone else I have grand designs to rule the world. So I want to find software whose limits are broad (within reason of course) - the piece of software that will cover the proverbial 90% of digitizing jobs a small to medium business would expect to encounter. ie. Lettering / clipart / bitmaps in single colour or up to a reasonable limit (say 15 colours).
Obviously digitizing of designs that are unusual (eg. a 10m square design or a design with 4000 colours) are an exception and I'm not trying to cover those.

The problem is that I don't know the features that are useful in a product, and then whether other products support it and how good they are at it.

In the end, it will be whatever works for you and what you can afford.
True, I realise that an interface I like someone else might find painful to use etc. Failing knowing exactly what I'm after (because I'm obviously not sure of the specifics!) in an ideal world I'd find a spreadsheet listing all the common features of the software and whether each product supports it. No up-to-date version of such a beast exists that I can find - hence asking what features people use on their software.

Personally, I now use Wilcom. I made the change a couple of years ago after using another brand of software. The original software was good, but the stitch quality I got from Wilcom was much better.
Can you be specific as to what you mean by stitch quality?
 

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At this time, you have an idea of what you want to produce?
From there you can make up your own list of features.

Currently I am using Wilcom Level 1 ES 1.5e.
For what I do, it is more than adequate.

Although, the only feature I would like, but don't have, is the outline feature available on the next level up, would save me some time as I do it manually now when required.

What I don't use or have a need for, are the fancy stitches, pattern fills, motifs etc. So by not having these add ons I save many dollars for a start.

Embroidery is really only the combination of three basic stitch types - tatami, satin, running stitch. Digitising is the art of combining them in a way that is both production friendly and pleasing to the eye.

The secret to digitising, is being able to break down the design into manageble parts. Complex designs then become a series of smaller, but easier to manage parts. For example, a customer gives you a picture of a truck you just break it down to a number of squares and rectangles with a couple of circles and when put together, you have a truck. :)

As far as stitch quality, it is hard to explain. You would need to run two versions of the same design, on the same material using the same machine.
One digitised using Wilcom and one using another program and then compare the end result.
They would need to use the stitch angles and length to be a worthwhile comparison.
Density would be appropiate for each software as they all seem to have their own way of doing it, no standards there.
 

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best thing to do right now would be get their demos and see which one you like most.
(I use embird, but had pe design earlier)

I think the only limit on the embird demo is 30 days and no design larger than 5000 stitches? you'd have to look at the site to find out.

but like a car, test drive the softwares. If a company doesn't have a demo to try, I would be very leery of dealing with them.
 
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