In various places online, there has been a lot of bashing going on in regards to the eCraftshop Pro software. I understand why people feel like this, after all the software needs a lot of work. I would love to be able to rave about the software, but I definitely can't do that. I am someone that always tries to look at the positive rather than the negative. When my mind gets clouded with negative thoughts, I am less productive and in general I just don't like the way it makes me feel. So I am someone that tries to find the silver lining. So what is the silver lining here? First off, the more I become familiar with the machine, the more I like the machine. I was able to cut some things that I thought I might not be able to with the eCraft, and they cut beautifully. I LOVE not having to use a sticky (waste of money) mat. I am so happy that I am finally able to cut perfect circles! I can't tell you how much that always annoyed me with my Cricut! Now, the major issue that needs to be addressed is the software. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the software can be changed, whereas the machine could not. So, I feel like we are on the right track. Craftwell clearly put a lot of time, effort, and money into the machine, and maybe not as much into the software. We now have the opportunity to help Craftwell develop this software into something that we WANT to work with! How great is that? We actually can help them create a great software product to go along with a great machine.
As I was working on this post and trying to figure out how to put all my thoughts down in words, I found THIS post by Tom at Create & Cut, and I think that he really sums it up beautifully, so I urge you to read this.
I have not told all of you about my professional background before, but I feel like now is the time. My father in law owns a heating and air conditioning company, and several years ago, he had a vision. In the heating and air conditioning business, we work a lot on gas forced furnaces. In a furnace, there is a part called the heat exchanger. The sole purpose of the heat exchanger is to hold all the combustion gases that the furnaces creates and then get them out of the house. The key thing that it must do is keep these gases out of your home. These gases can be deadly, and most people are familiar with carbon monoxide as one of the most deadly. In the United States, roughly 200 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by furnace heat exchanger failure. The problem with this heat exchanger is that it is extremely large, and nearly impossible for a technician to inspect for failure, including holes, cracks, rusting through, etc. At the time, the way technicians were inspecting it was with a mirror (similar in style to the mirror a dentist uses, and maybe about 3-4" in diameter) and a flashlight. Using this method, technicians can really only see about 20% of the heat exchanger. On top of that, if a technician found failure, because of the angles, it was nearly impossible to be able to show the homeowner what he was seeing. My father in law wanted to develop a better way to inspect the heat exchanger and at the same time, show it to the homeowner so that they did not have to take the technician's word for it. He developed a camera system called the Inspector. This is truly a great product, and my father in law has sold them all over the US and Canada. About 5 years ago, he added a feature to the camera that we call the DVR (Digital Video Recorder). This allows the technician to record the inspections. When my father in law did this, my husband and I realized that we would need to have software that could process these inspections and make DVDs. With some coaxing we convinced my father in law to let us work on this to make the camera even better. Working with a major software manufacturer, we developed software that would do that, as well as create discs that could be used for training purposes. My father in law holds classes now about 6 times a year where technicians can come and get trained on how to use the camera, how to record inspections, and also how to communicate what they finding to homeowners. I also teach classes on how to use the software. Although, we did not develop the software on our own, I am a little familiar with the process. I know that it can take some time to get everything just right. I also know that not everyone is going to be happy. I have clients that want to put minimal effort into it, and then are disappointed in the results. Software cannot read our minds, and the more we put into it, the more we get out of it. So with that in mind, we can now use this opportunity to help Craftwell develop a great product by reporting the facts, our NEEDS and our WANTS. We can be patient as we allow them to develop the things we NEED first, and then work on the things that we WANT.
Sorry for such a long story, but with that being said. Let's focus on what can be changed, and help Craftwell do that, because I think in the long run, it will be rewarding for all of us.
Also, I have made some progress on cutting some various materials with the eCraft, and will post some more findings either later tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. This afternoon I am going to do some various test cutting using the software and see what I can find out that may help Craftwell. Keep a lookout for my findings, and if you discover anything, please let all of know! The more people that can test out problems, the more we can help solve the problem!