Thursday, September 2, 2010

You don't see me panicking and I bought TWO!!!

I know that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong when it comes to the debut of eCraftShop Pro.  You've had problems getting it loaded.  I've had problems getting it loaded.  It's been tough.

And, on top of that the electricity and phones went out in the area in which the Craftwell offices are located and everyone is having to work from home.  It's got to be a nightmare for them.

Then there is the software, itself, once it is loaded.  I saw a rave review on Craftwell's facebook page touting how wonderful it is.  And, I could not help but wonder what universe he is living in!  I am NOT going to rave about how good the software is.  That's because it is not.


And, I mean this sincerely...

The eCraft is a better machine than my Gazelle in all the ways that are important to me.  And, the Gazelle is among the best of the best.  If you panic it is you that will lose in the long run, as all these startup glitches get put behind us.

Many, many years ago, I was in charge of a Washington Area telethon called the "Johnny Cash Youth Special" that we expected to bring in millions of dollars.  But, just as the telethon went on the air, a popular local call-in program also went live on the radio.  Unfortunately, we were on the very same 'choke' network.  This network is designed to protect the entire phone system in a surge of calls by blocking calls on purpose.  Our phones went dead as a doornail.  And, we barely cleared expenses.  We were devastated.

The Baltimore chapter of the organization was not on a 'choke' network.  They DID make millons and they were estatic.  At that time, neither organization could ever have guessed what the final outcome would REALLY be in a very short time.

A year later the Baltimore organization was almost broke having lost all their old support base because that base thought they were no longer needed.   But, we still maintained our old support base because they knew they were needed.  In the end, we came out AHEAD and the Baltimore chapter all but collapsed.

In a time of crises, chaos or just plain uncertainty it's easy to lose perspective.  Don't let that happen here.  The eCraft is, at it's CORE a superior machine.  The fringes might be a bit rough right now.  But, from all the testing I have done, I have to believe that the CORE is rock solid.

But, what of the Software?

Being honest, I have to say it's a huge disappointment.  But, in my 30+ years of being a software designer, I've delivered big disappointments before.  Yet, once we and the client saw what we'd delivered and how our original vision had fallen short of their actual needs, we were both able to more clearly communicate what they wanted and what we could deliver.  SOFTWARE IS EASILY AND QUICKLY CHANGED!\

Once you know what you DON'T want, you have a better idea of what you DO want.

So, rather than bash anything and everything about the eCraftShop Pro, which I could easily do, I would rather work with my fellow eCraft owners to TRIAGE the software and communicate our priorities and our expectations back through the Craftwell channels to the developers.


For me, the number one priority is to get the SVG importing and cutting fixed... and fixed fast.  With that working we have the safety valve of being able to use any number of products to create our own designs.  Everything else is a distant also ran.

And, if that doesn't get fixed, then it's time to go in another direction.

Finally, I started out by pointing out that I have purchased two of these machines... and, remember, I am not even a crafter.  I am helping my artist daughter do her art.  And, along the way hoping to help you who can do such beautiful work to do YOUR art.

I could easily return them.  But, I won't.  I'm looking to where this can go, not where it is right now.  And, I remain convinced that those of us that muscle through these uh... interesting... times.  Will be VERY glad that we did.

TRIAGE... not TRASH... is the road I'm going to take.

I'll do it with my eyes wide open and my reality glasses on.  I'm as sad as you are that we weren't delivered a much more mature product.  But, we do have to remember we are dealing with not only an infant product; but, an infant company.  It takes guts for a start-up to invest the kind of money they've invested in the hardware.  So, I am willing to believe that after this wake-up call they are going to be willing to invest the same energy and money in the software.

Let's help them do it.  You know what you want and you know what you need.  This is your chance to mold a product to fit both of those criteria.

Maybe this blog is a good place to communicate your own priority or priorities.  I allow comments as long as they are not totally outrageous or filthy.   As you look at eCraftShop Pro, right now, what is YOUR number 1 priority?  The great thing about the internet that people all over the world can work together to build a better tool for themselves.  And, it's easy for those who are responsible for making the changes to see what you have to say.

I usually respond to comments.  But, in this case I will not, letting you have a conversation among yourselves to build our community TRIAGE list.


Ruthie said...

Yes - I agree with number one! So far, touch wood, I have been able to cut basic svg. I dont have much time to play so I havent tried much more than this. All my wishblade cutting files are GSD so I only have the basic word welds, nested shapes etc that I have designed to play with - but they have worked, for the most part, fine. I might go and search out some more files and see how I get on...

Tom, why dont we all try cutting the same file and see if we are having any differences across machines, computers, set ups etc. Think that might shed some light somewhere! Am happy to email you my basic scalloped rectangle thingy for you to try and cut. Or you could email me the file you tried.

Next thing would be to be able to edit svgs. Select just one part of an svg to cut. Yes, we can work around this by going back into the original and saving each piece as a distinct file, and it isnt that much of a pain - but it would be "nice" if we could do it within the prosoftware.

Kinda equal with that would be to get all the functionality working on the existing software.

Then comes the fun....oh, this could be sooooo big!

I am definitely NOT going to be trashing my little "snowball"


Denise O'Connor said...


I could not agree with you more. I actually was trying to figure out how to word this for a post on my blog last night, and fell asleep trying! Now, I am going to link here to your blog because it is like you took the words right out of my mouth!


Ruthie said...

Oh hey - and there is no copy and paste function - so we cant duplicate in that way. Just thought I would mention it!


tina said...

I want to cut svg files properly if that happens I would be happy. I really love this machine and think the software will be fixed & we will all be happy!! I have to think positive!!

Tom Meeks said...

Ruthie, great idea. An important aspect of software testing is to reduce what you are testing to the lowest possible level.

For a shape, that means a square or a circle designed in one application, say Inkscape.

Even with a simple shape like that we are going to end up with a lot of variables spread across users, like Windows versions and even computer chipset. In our case, it might also be the USB system of the computers, although I doubt it. But, processor speed might also be a factor.

I doubt if I can do this while I'm away because the internet connection here is so slow that I cannot seem to download inkscape to my netbook. But, certainly we can get this started early in the week.

Thanks to all that have posted. It's great that each of us, so far, recognize the merits of the basic machine.

susanjosey2004 said...

I just purchased the ecrafter and it is still in the box. We are moving but I am really wanting to play. Do I need to purchase MTC or SCAL to save svg files and cut. It seems like this may not work. I realize I am way behind the crowd but would very much appreciate some direction.

Love you blog. Thank you.

Beth said...

I agree, I really want the svg import cutting file to work first and foremost.

Tom Meeks said...

Sue and Beth,

Thanks for your comments and questions. Cutting SVG files seems to be the consensus when it comes to critical capabilities.

And, your input on that is going to help make it so at Creaftwell, I'm sure.

Sue, I don't know a lot about MTC or SCAL in terms of their abilities to let you create your own design. Leo at is the person I would contact and he reads this blog. Inkscape is a free program that I intend to use the most to create SVG files. But, I think it might be more difficult to learn to use than Make The Cut.

In any case, it's great to have both of you here!