Do you regularly check for updates for the Silhouette Studio Software? I do.
Instead of checking for updates via the help menu in Silhouette Studio I usually check directly on the Software download page on the Silhouette Website instead.
Last week when I was on the site, I noticed that Silhouette have rolled out a Beta Version Of Silhouette Studio 4. It’s not supported yet and it’s still a test/evaluation version but it’s available for download for anyone who wants to try it. Here’s a screenshot of Silhouette’s Release Notes listing some of the new features
Note: At time of writing, they’ve already updated it to fix some bugs and issues.
Being a curious sort of person I downloaded it to explore some of the new features listed above.
What to Expect.
Before I start I should tell you first that I’m a Silhouette Cameo owner, but I’m not affiliated with Silhouette in any way.
First impressions count and when I opened the software, I noticed it has a nice clean minimalist look about it which I liked. Very uncluttered.
At first glance, it looks quite different from the previous versions. But…. If you are familiar with Silhouette Studio V3, it’s not too hard to get your bearings. Some of the icons have changed and are in alternative locations but I spent a few minutes hovering my cursor over the various icons and exploring around and I soon found myself in familiar territory.
Here’s a close up of the Top Left of the Screen.
The tools along the top are pretty self explanatory with icons that are easily recognizable such as the folder, save and printer icons. Next to those are cut, copy and paste, The redo, undo tools and the zoom tools. All pretty standard stuff so far.
The differences? Refer to pic above…
- There is a white bar under the Tool icons bar which changes to show the tool options that have been selected. The picture above shows the colour fill and line tool options but if you were to click on the knife tool on the left hand side for example, the knife tool options would show up in this area instead. Another difference is the File/Document name tabs have been moved to the top from their previous location at the bottom of the screen. The workspace bottom is empty now.
- Now to the left hand side – the Drawing tools. The main difference here is some tools are now grouped together. If you see a tiny triangle at the bottom right of the tool icon then there are extra tools available which are not shown. By clicking on the triangle it will pop up with the other options available. For example if you click on the triangle near the “Draw a Circle” tool (#2 in pic above), other options such as draw a square, a polygon, rounded rectangle etc will pop out. It’s very Photoshop like 🙂 This is probably why the screen now has an uncluttered appearance. In previous versions all these drawing tools were visible all the time.
- #3 That icon that look’s like a horse hoof (LOL to me anyway!) that’s the Eraser tool! Yes, some icons do look slightly different but that shouldn’t be a problem as it’s easy to hover your cursor over them to identify what they are.
You may not be familiar with the new very top left icon though – It’s a New Project Icon. Very handy as a shortcut to the various projects that may be created with the different Silhouette machines, The Cameo, Curio or the Mint. Click on an option and the work space will open with the appropriate tool window open all ready to go.
Here’s a screenshot of the top Right of the Screen.
- Here are the links to the Design Section, the Library or the Silhouette Store all along the top right bar.
- The rest of the tools and window icons are on the right in a vertical row. Most of them you would be familiar with.
- Some have been moved around and grouped together – For example; You’ll now find the Align, Scale, Shear, Rotate, Move & Skew tools all grouped together under the Transform Window (which looks like the old Align icon). Another example is the Fill Colour, Fill Gradient and Fill pattern tools all grouped under the New little paint palette icon.
- When a tool icon is clicked and the window panel opens, at the top of the panel each of the grouped icons are visible and it’s a matter of selecting whichever one you wish to use. In my pic I have the Align Tool selected and it’s options show underneath. Next to it up the top is the Scale Tool etc etc.
- The Floating panels are a great new feature. You can shift the panels around and open up more than one at the same time – Keep them open or minimize them too. All very handy.
Mostly for this post I was just looking around seeing where everything is located.
I haven’t tried the tracing options out as I don’t do much tracing but the tracing tool has a couple of new features. (Designer’s Edition) There’s the option to trace by colour which I imagine will be very useful and it’s also possible to do a Magnetic Trace. I’m not entirely sure what this is yet – I’ll try it out later.
The tutorial section looks like a great resource for beginners. For the gift tag project I looked at, it showed a series of small screenshots that you can go look at in your own time, moving on as you complete each step.
I have lots more to try out in the new Software, but I like it so far. It’s made a good first impression. Everything is nicely laid out, easy to find and intuitive. I’m going to keep on using it for now.
Having said that I haven’t actually made a design in it yet or tried to cut anything, this is more of a post about the layout and tools. The changes didn’t seem scary at all! I’m looking forward to designing and cutting with it and I’ll report back when I do.
Want to try it yourself?
Just ensure you have backed up your library before you download the V4 software – Silhouette remind you to do this before allowing the download.
Be aware that there is no support if you have trouble with any aspect of the software. It’s a testing version and there may be glitches and bugs that have not been ironed out yet. Worse comes to the worse you could always revert back to an earlier software version.
When the Release version is available it may have different features.
There is a feedback form that you can fill out to advise of any bugs or make suggestions. This will help Silhouette to fix any problems before they roll out the final Release and Supported Version of the software.
Will you be giving the Beta Testing Software a try?
Oh and before I forget, Happy Valentines Day!
Update. First impressions can be deceiving…
3 days later – Well, while I liked the look of it earlier, I’ve been using the program for a couple of projects and I’m finding it a bit frustrating! I’m having lots of issues with the cutting settings, I can’t really tell which lines are going to be cut, and and I’ve found Print and cut seems to take a lot longer now when selecting fonts, scrolling through options etc. I haven’t been able to edit some materials in the cut settings – unfortunately the one I was using – I was unable to turn on double cut. I’ve also noticed that when typing in a desired size in Scale window for an object it seems to have a mind of it’s own and didn’t always work. It took me a few tries to resize a simple box shape when designing a card.
To be honest while I would have liked to keep it and explore it some more, sadly life is too short!. I’ve decided to uninstall the software and go back to the version 3 that I have used successfully without all these time consuming issues.
Now, I understand that this is a beta version and it is still in the testing stage but….. I was surprised that things that worked fine in V3 are now not working very well in V4. In an update of this type I was expecting improvements that because of their newness may have been buggy and that’s fair enough, but I wasn’t expecting things that used to work fine to no longer work very well at all. Maybe I was a little naive in my expectations.
I wish that I was able to run both versions. The new one to experiment and try out and the other to actually produce some designs and Cuts without the hassles. As I don’t have those resources I’m opting to go with the version that I’m familiar with and stick with V3 for the time being.
Any and all opinions -other thoughts are most welcome in the comments. 🙂