More Organizing in the Sewing Room – And, a Product Review

Many, but not all, of my physical embroidery files – and loads more that are just digital!

Like many embroiderers, I have a terrific number of embroidery designs – egregious might be a better word. And while I do my best to keep my files organized, I lose track of what I have, and have had several near-misses in regards to purchasing the same item a second time.

Too there is the difficulty with design names – something like Celebrations might be appropriate, but without context, what does it mean? Holidays? Birthday-themed? Balloons and candles? When I save designs to my computer, I do try to label them with something descriptive, like monogram frames, or greetings cards, or animals, children’s… but then we are also limited to 250 characters in a file path name, and can only label them so much.

Enter database software. Yes, if you are inclined, and have a copy of it, you can use something like Microsoft Access. Me, I’m lazy, and don’t do well with computers so I prefer someone else to set up the database for me, and I don’t mind paying for it.

If you have Baby Lock’s Palette 11, you can use their Design Database software. It will let you add keywords and search and create catalogs of your designs, among other functions. Even if you don’t have Palette 11, you can download the software from their website, and use it to transfer designs wirelessly from your computer to your Baby Lock Wi-Fi capable machine. And you can still sort and print catalogs of your designs, but you can only add keywords within Palette.

I do have Palette, and I did try to use Design Database, and while I got it to work once in a test, I can’t get it to work again so I have a ticket in to Baby Lock and we’ll see if I can learn to use it. If I do, I’ll tell you about it in a future post.

This post though is about Floriani My Design Album (MDA). It’s one of the few embroidery-design specific database softwares out there. It’s also the most expensive, stand-alone software at $499.

It does what it says it does, but I would qualify that with “just barely”, and “not as well as you would think it should.” Floriani does have very responsive customer support, so you can ask them questions, they just don’t always have an answer that will help your situation.

With the Floriani software you can add your designs to different categories, and you create the categories so you can have exactly what you want and need. You can also add keywords to the design files, and you can search by keyword, file type, and file name. You can also view image files and cut files, like SVG, which can also be categorized and keyworded (is that verb?) They have several videos on their website that demonstrate the software and all that it can do.

And it comes with other software: Image Maker, which gives you pictures of the designs in File Explorer – but only for Large and Extra-Large icons; and Thread Converter, which is self-explanatory. Not to mention a pretty good editing program too, in case you don’t have any other embroidery software. And – bless them for it! – they give you two licenses, so if you have two computers – say a desk top and lap top – you can put it on both.

But… (which is the whole point of this post, isn’t?) there are several quirks of the software which make it not as useable as I would like.

Firstly, nowhere in the manual, or in any videos I have seen to date, does it say that you have to categorize a file first before you can add keywords. While this is fine, the situation is further confused by the fact that there’s a Keyword button in the main screen, and it shows up while you’re in the File-View window; if you can only add keywords while you’re in the Category window, why is it available elsewhere? If you’re in File View, you can click on it, type in the dialog box that comes up, and even hit OK – but it won’t actually save anything. I wasted a lot of time and energy tilting at that particular windmill….

Then there is the fact that, once you’re in a Category, it gives you everything in that Category, so if you’ve already put in 300 designs, you’ll have to remember the files names you’re currently working with. If you’re lucky, they’ll all start with the same number so you can whittle it down in the Name search box. If not, then you’ll have to look for each file individually. Personally, I would prefer to add keywords in the File View window, since I know when I select a specific folder, I’m only working with those files.

Keywords, once created, cannot be altered or deleted. So if you misspell a keyword, say “Quitl Blocks”, you can’t correct it. Yes, you can add a new keyword, Quilt Blocks, and then make sure not to add anything to the misspelled one, but when you’re selecting from the keyword list, it’s very easy to select the wrong one.

In the search area, you cannot use multiple keywords, only one. It seems to me if you can add multiple keywords to a file, you should be able to search with multiple keywords. Also, the search box for Keyword doesn’t show you a drop-down list of the keywords you’ve created, so you’ll have to be very certain of which keyword you added to the file you’re looking for. Which rather defeats the purpose I think… and if you’ve misspelled it, heaven help you to remember your misspelling!

You cannot move or rename files, not even within the software. I can understand that if I move files while outside the software, the link it created will be broken. Fine. But if I’m in the software and move a file, why can’t it rewrite the link? Other database software can do this; I know my Photoshop Elements does it. And if I move a file outside of the software, Elements will let me run a search for broken links, and lets me fix them by locating the file. Often it can even do this on its own, with no input from me. With MDA, you have to delete the broken links from the Category, then re-categorize and re-keyword your files again. So you’d better be quite sure of how you have your files organized to begin with.

I will however concede that while Adobe has millions upon millions of users, Floriani customers are probably only in the thousands, and economics likely plays a role in how they design and update their software. (But this customer is complaining, so if you’re listening….)

Then there is the oddity of “no information”. An embroidery design file is created with things like stitch count and size, and embroidery software can create an image for you to view within the program. However, several times now I have come across files that present as having no stitch count, no size, just a big goose egg of info. Or, they’ll have all of this info, and it will show up in the information pane at the bottom of the window, but it will still not be able to create an image for you, so you have to open it in other software to see what it looks like. When I asked, I was given no information other than “no, it doesn’t show up on my computer either.” Hmm. I have found that if you re-save the file it will correct it nine times out of ten.

Well, that was exhausting – now you know how I feel when I try to use computers! For those of you who touch a computer and make it sing, may karma continue to smile upon you. But for people like me, when we touch a computer, it’s more like un-tuned saws with nails on the blackboard as an accompaniment.

I hope this review was helpful to you in deciding about Floriani’s MDA software; if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them below!

7 thoughts on “More Organizing in the Sewing Room – And, a Product Review

  1. I hope Floriani and other such embroidery organizing software makers are reading this post so they can make improvements! Yes, it’s exhaustive just reading your detailed review — thank you!


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