I love to do research and learn as much as I can. Lately, I have been researching different embroidery programs and the different tools and ideas that they have. Most are basically the same, they all have the run stitch, satin stitch and fill stitch and have tools for shortcut stitches, motifs, and fancy stitches. I find it very interesting to see how other embroidery programs work, how good the UI is (UI is the user interface, so how the desktop is set out, how easy it is to find tools and make things work) and what each program has to offer. If I had millions, I would literally buy one of each embroidery program, just for fun! Well, I don’t get out much these days, so yes, trying different embroidery programs would be my idea of fun!
With that logic, I can’t afford to buy all of the programs right now, but I should be able to try the different ones for free, right? I mean really free, not take my credit card number and all of my information free. I was thrilled thinking that I could try some different embroidery programs and have some fun – also with the idea of learning different ways to digitize, and maybe do an in-depth review of what I have discovered, so I can share that knowledge with fellow digitizers. Alas, that dream has been crushed: all trials are not created equal!
I remember doing my trial of Hatch. It was awesome – there was nothing big to do – add your email and download the trial with no credit card needed. Plus, it was a full 30-day trial that was fully functional. I was able to have an embroidery “adventure” with Hatch. I enjoyed testing Hatch – I tried every single tool, and put Hatch to any and every test that I could come up with, even complicated auto digitizing tests to see what Hatch’s stitch processor can do! I did this for a couple of weeks and really got to know Hatch. Before the end of the 30-day trial, I was happy with the program, the tools, the UI and mostly the near perfect stitch outs. So, of course, I bought the program. Thinking of that rather pleasant experience, I figured that most other companies will follow suit with Hatch – make a 30-day free trial so you had enough time to really get down and work with the program and stitch out your creations. 30 days is also enough time to take some classes and check out some free Hatch Facts tutorials to really learn the software. And of course stitching out any and all of your creations without any limitations. I quickly found out that not too many companies allow this level of trial freedom.
Difficult trials: one of the things that I found out quickly is that some companies do not offer free trials. I am not sure that I will spend a ton of money (or any money) on any program that I can’t see how it works and at least play around with the program. Some companies require ALL of your information, including your credit card information to do a trial, and then some you have to wait for a disk in the mail. Yeah, no. In this world of instant technology, a CD in the mail isn’t going to work. Plus, believe it or not, both of my big computers (iMac and a big gaming computer) don’t have CD Roms. We keep an older computer plugged in for this reason – and we copy the information to a zip drive so we can put it on our work computers. Again, getting a CD in the mail just doesn’t work anymore – time to get modern, people.
Limited trials. I found the various trial limitations very frustrating. After copying the disk to a zip drive and putting them on my computer, I realized that the trials are limited, and some are limited in big ways! After weeks of waiting, I realized that I couldn’t really use the program too much with big limitations. I mean seriously, how can you test out an embroidery program if you can’t stitch out your work? Or if you can’t save your design? What is the point of that? Since I can’t test out the program by stitching anything or saving anything, it quickly becomes a waste of time. If you are an experienced digitizer of any level, you will know that what you see on your computer screen looks perfect, but the stitch out is a whole other story, right? When push/pull compensation comes into play when you are actually stitching a design, that perfect circle on your screen can be an oval when you stitch it out. I also like to see how well the stitch processor works for the program – the better the stitch processor, the better the stitch quality – and that means a lot! Does the program remove small stitches on output? How easily does it connect to my machines? To me, one of the best things about Hatch is that you can send an EMB file to your machine, and Hatch will convert it to the stitch file on the way to your machine – you have to tell Hatch what your machine uses, and after that Hatch converts it. We use that one a daily basis – I create a design in EMB, save it to our embroidery server, and Don will pick up the design from the server and send it to whatever machine is free at the time, and whether it uses a DST, PES or TAP file, Hatch already knows what to use. That saves us making and keeping multiple copies of the same design. We think this is a great feature – it may not apply to you, but you can see what a time saver it is! I discovered this feature during the Hatch trial.
Basically, if I couldn’t get a free trial that was totally free of commitment, I moved on to the next one. If that trial had limitations and I was not able to fully explore the software and really get down and try the software in every aspect of every feature that the software had to offer, I moved on to the next one. I do this with every kind of software – photography software, vector software, drawing software and especially embroidery software – I have to do my own research and make sure I know that the software will work for me before I spend even one single penny on any kind of software. I encourage everyone to do some research, work with the software and test it out completely before you purchase anything. Make sure that the company offers a ton of support too – I have learned this one the hard way – if you don’t have support, it is not worth it. Quite a few years ago, we had some software that cost us $10K to purchase. Yes, that is a lot of money, but it was a top end software. I wasn’t able to try the software. but we did purchase it based on its reputation. Well, again learning the hard way, I found this software really difficult to use – it was hard to find tools and the toolbars kept disappearing. I was frustrated for years! They did a free upgrade, and that upgrade had errors. Not just errors, critical errors, big ones. There were around 4 that affected my daily work. I found out quickly that there was no one to talk to about it – they kept saying that it may be fixed in the next year or so – or something to that effect that said “sorry this part doesn’t work but use the rest of the tools and you will be fine” over and over again. Well, I will never make that mistake again, so I research, try, test and work with any program before I purchase it, and I encourage everyone out there to do the same. If you can’t fully try the program for at least 30 days, go to the next one and try that. A good company will stand behind their product!
If you are not happy with your software, time to try something new! If you need more out of your software, try something new! Don’t be afraid of change, you never know how much your craft can improve with some new software to add to your software stash.
Now, I need to win the lottery so I can buy tons of software and create a software stash.
Until next time,
Do your research!