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Flexi vs. Signlab I just bought a Versacam and need to buy one or the other.

Discussion in 'General Software' started by Git-R-Done, May 17, 2005.

  1. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    I just bought a Versacam and I am looking for opinions on Flexi vs. Signlab. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks.:U Rock:
     
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  2. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I prefer Flexi, although SignLab is a very good program. Flexi does a good job of opening old CASmate files, CorelDRAW files and importing Illustrator and EPS artwork. It also integrates pretty well with computer routing solutions like EnRoute. Flexi is also a much more commonly used "CAS" program. I'm not sure if that really means anything to most people. These days whenever sign people have to trade files around chances are they'll just send an EPS file or something like that.

    You can read over feature sets of various CAS packages. But the most important thing to consider is how well the program will play with your other pieces of software. How will it fit into your existing workflow? SignLab is boasting about AlienSkin filters. I'd rather just launch Adobe Photoshop and use raster editing filters there.

    I'm not a big fan at all of Gerber's software. They have left a lot to be desired when it comes to file interoperability between other applications. Hopefully their newest stuff will let you export in more than just DXF and HPGL PLT files. Blah!
     
  3. Dave Drane

    Dave Drane Very Active Member

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    You may want to take a look at Vinyl Master Pro. It is a lot less expensive and does everything the others do!!
     
  4. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

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    I argue whether or not VMP can do everything else the others do. For someone who has been using scanvec products for 9 years, trying out VMP, it was just lacking something. VMP does have some nice features that they couple with the software that Flexi would be wise to do also.
     
  5. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    FLEXI got a big problem right now with the upgrade to 7.5..screwin up machines..
     
  6. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    If you have Flexi 7.5, you can download the Flexi 7.6 upgrade. I haven't seen any problems with 7.5 though. The only issue I've had with Flexi has been from trying to load Flexi 6.6 on WinXP Pro systems (gotta have 7.x).

    Not to knock VMP, but it sure isn't Flexi or even the ol' dead CASmate 6.52.

    I had never even heard of Vinyl Master Pro until some fellow brought in a disc with a .VMP file on it. This customer was fed up with the sign guy he was using, but had a disc with a .BMP and ".VMP" file on it. It was from one of our, um, shall we say: "lesser than qualified competitors."

    Needless to say, I told the guy we couldn't simply copy his competitor's design and would have to do something different. Even then, none of my graphics applications had any idea what a .VMP file was. Only after doing a google search on that file extension did I find the site selling Vinyl Master Pro. The big sign applications like Flexi and Gerber Omega will not open or import VMP files. And I have to wonder about any kind of interoperability it could have with routing applications. I certainly would steer clear of this application (and a good number of others) if you had ambitions on gaining CNC routing capability. Flexi and Gerber have far better upgrade paths in that area.

    Just to take a bit of a tangent in the discussion, and to clarify this is not really a judgment on the VMP app itself, but the website for Progressive Sign Systems looks really really bad. You know it from my signature. I really HATE font murder. Yet, on the title area of their home page, they have Dom Casual and University Roman horribly crushed in El Amateuro DistortoVision for their "logo." Blaagghhhh!
     
  7. Driving Force

    Driving Force Member

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    I dont use flexi so I cant really compare. I am an avid signlab user and have been very happy with the 7.1 version. I think that signlab drives the roland product extremely well. They really seem to work hard at keeping up with whats new. The import and export filters are very nice, and the photoshop integration is very handy. there are some things that you can do in signlab with eyecandy filters that are very hard to do in photoshop. I hardly ever use the software that came with my printer. I also have omega and hate to use it, not very user friendly. Check out some of the new features in 7.1 @http://www.signlab.ca/upgradeToday/.
    just for your info I am not a signlab dealer or have anything to do with them, just a satisfied user.
     
  8. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    Thanks every one for the quick responces. I am guessing by the replies that the concensus is Flexi over signlab. Any other opinions ae greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Git-R-Done:thankyou:
     
  9. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Just to clarify, Vinyl Master Pro is authored and sold by Future Corporation Ltd. Progressive is apparently a dealer for them among other products. I agree that I would be hard pressed to take them seriously if I was considering them as a supplier after looking at their logo. Future Corporation Ltd. appears to have a clean logo using Handel Gothic.

    Shaun Morrell of Future Corporation Ltd. has been a friend to Signs 101 since its inception and their banner swap with use appears at the bottom of every page here at Signs 101. VMP is not something I've ever used but I've heard more than one positive review of it. In the past year they have also added FutureRip to their lineup and may well be worth your considering along with SignLab and Flexi as a possible solution.

    I personally prefer Flexi to Signlab but would call both applications more than up to the task of making one effective with a Versacamm. Like Bobby H, I have found that interconnectivity is highly important to me. I was surprised and delighted the other day to find that Flexi 7.6 will open an Illustrator CS file allowing me to forego upgrading my Illustrator 10 for a while longer. I also differ on opinions expressed here regarding Gerber Omega since I own licenses to both Omega and Flexi and use Omega for 99% of my setups and production.

    Most of us will end up liking the application we learn first the best. In reality, each app will have its strengths and weaknesses. There is no single best choice.

    If I was selecting an application to primarily drive my Versacamm, I would be asking the dealer I was getting the Versacamm from for his opinion as well and which one he would be best able to support when I needed help.
     
  10. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    Thanks Drivivg Force. I wonder does Signlab have business friendly things built into there software, like pricing structures ect. The reason I ask is I was told by a local dealer that Flexi does offer those "add-ons".
    Thank You
     
  11. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    Thanks Fred. I will ask my dealer.

    git-r-done
     
  12. WVB

    WVB Very Active Member

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    Flexi Pro 7 has what is called Job Estimation Git-R-Done. Which is not all that bad actually. Its totally customizable to your pricing, naming, etc. I truely like FlexiPro, however I still find myself going back to Illustrator to design/manipulate files etc. I know Flexi can do all Illustrator can, however I guess with my time and what I was trainned on (Illustrator) I am kinda too lazy to really re-learn Illustrator through Flexi so to speak.
     
  13. Hubert Furey

    Hubert Furey New Member

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    Git-R-Done,

    I can send you a demo version of SignLab which will allow printed (but spoiled) output. You will still be able to see the quality of the print job and experience the workflow firsthand.

    Email me your mailing address if you are interested or if you have any questions on SignLab.
     
  14. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    Thanks Huber. I have demos of both and I have looked at them both. I am just on the fence about a final decision. I just wanted all of your pro advice as I am just a beginner. I really appreciate your offer.


    Thank You
    Git-R-Done
     
  15. David Evans

    David Evans New Member

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    Hello,

    Bobby you said
    "How will it fit into your existing workflow? SignLab is boasting about AlienSkin filters. I'd rather just launch Adobe Photoshop and use raster editing filters there."

    FYI, Signlab works with particularly well with PhotoShop, like Illustrator you can copy and paste from Signlab to PhotoShop and in pasting in to PhotoShop choose between pixels, path or shape layer. This means you can run Actions and Filters on these areas. So Signlab is designed to work very well with PhotoShop.
    You can read a PDF on how well Signlab is intergrated with PhotoShop at the following link.
    http://www.signlab.ca/images/comp-1_PS-SL-2.pdf

    This was written for Signlab 7.0, in 7.1 we greatly enhanced our support of PhotoShop plug-ins and you can now apply these directly to vectors in Signlab, if you follow the PDF above and understand the benfits of the clipping paths we now automatically do this when plug-ins are used on vector data.

    Signlab also support PDF exporting as well as importing.

    You can export Signlab palettes in either Corel or Illustrator format.

    I think you would find Signlab intergrates with other applications at least as well as any other graphics application.
     
  16. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I appreciate any efforts a company makes in accomodating files from widely used applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDRAW. Still, I guess the primary benefit I see from an application like SignLab bundling in AlienSkin filters is those users who don't have Photoshop or another raster editor capable of using Photoshop plug-ins can use those filters.

    There's still a lot of things Photoshop does outside of a set of add-on plug-in filters. The new CS2 version adds a lot of useful features for cloning objects in perspective, correcting barrel distortion from wide angle lenses, new high dynamic range image functions, more functions in 16-bit per channel mode, etc. In short, Photoshop is still my preferred raster image editor of choice and I don't see anything changing that anytime soon.

    CAS applications have a great deal of benefits outside of what users normally have in standard desktop applications. The benefits are more clear in terms of vector based compositing.

    For example, many people do like to design signs in Adobe Illustrator. I often use it (as well as Macromedia Freehand and CorelDRAW) as well. But Illustrator has this really punishing limit of a pasteboard far too small for large scale sign design. Corel and Canvas are the only desktop vector applications that allow one to design large signs at full size. But even Corel hits the wall at the 100' X 100' mark. I can go quite a bit larger in applications like Flexi. That can be pretty important when you have an entire building elevation to decorate.

    IMHO, as far as raster image handling goes I think CAS-type applications will do enough to have dependable color control and good RIP functions. (It might be interesting to see how CAS-type apps and dedicated RIP apps like PosterShop Pro take to Adobe's new color control system in CS2 -it totally bypasses the system used by Windows). I don't see much need to duplicate much of the Photoshop toolset in the application. Again, this is just my opinion, I think such duplication leads to needless application bloat and sluggish performance. Lots of desktop graphics applications are guilty of this. For example, I see little need for Illustrator to include so many Photoshop functions. It's a vector drawing program, not Photoshop. I've been very annoyed by many of these applications wasting code on pseudo web page editing functions. I've got Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver already. I'm not going to use Illustrator by itself to design a website.

    In general I would like to see graphics applications of all types concentrate on doing unique things no other application can do (and then do those unique things well) rather than water themselves down by copying features from other apps.
     
  17. David Evans

    David Evans New Member

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    Hello Bobby,

    I completely agree with your points on using PhotoShop for bitmap editing, and thats one of the reasons we support the PhotoShop clipboard format.

    But PhotoShop only handles bitmaps and there gets to a point in a design when you need to start combining the two and that can get very complicated, the support of PhotoShop plug-ins in Signlab makes this a lot easier.

    For example, you have some text and a b/w logo you want to give it a Crome or wood effect and print this at say 30" wide by 60" long.
    If you do the whole thing in PhotoShop the edges of the text and the curves around the logo will show up jaggies unless the image is high resolution and that would make one very big bitmap.
    The way to keep the bitmap size down is to use a clipping path around a bitmap that defines the edges and have the effect bleed slightly larger than the clipping path, this way you can use a much lower resolution bitmap.
    The link in my previous e-mail explains how to do this using Signlab and PhotoShop (but its quite a few steps), but with Signlab 7.1 it will automatically do this for you when you apply filers directly to any vector object. So it makes it very easy and will sabe you a lot of time.

    FYI. Our RIP also include a resampling feature, resampling works great for fills but not so good for edges (try it in PhotoShop and you will see how it starts to blur the edges rather than leave nice sharp edges). So when you have some text with a bitmap fill in SIgnlab you can work with quite low resolution bitmaps and just have the RIP resample them on output and you cant tell any difference.
     
  18. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I think Photoshop's own vector handling capabilities are pretty decent. However, I see no purpose in Photoshop duplicating a bunch of functions from Illustrator.

    The clipping path function in Signlab sounds pretty convenient. But in general, when I'm designing raster images for large format output I tend to work with large files bearing high pixel counts anyway. Even if the edges are smooth, if the detail inside is too low in resolution it is still not going to look very good. RAM is cheap. Most jobs can be burned to a CD. The really big ones can be sent on a DVD-R.

    It is nice to be able to mix vector and raster art together for a large format print. I certainly recommend it to anyone to keep items in vector form that can remain there, like logos and type. This is an area where CAS applications like Signlab can provide some advantages. You're not affected by pasteboard size limits of Illustrator or Freehand.
     
  19. David Evans

    David Evans New Member

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    Unfortunatly all of PhotoShop vector tools are for internal use, when it outputs it converts all these to bitmap data.

    Would you like me to send you a PDF example, you can open it in Illustrator and see how the fill and clipping work. Even though its small, in Signlab it would could be printed any size. It really shows you how you can combine vector with bitmaps.
     
  20. multifarious

    multifarious New Member

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