what sign software to buy when you enter large format digital color inkjet printers.

Figuring out what sign software to buy when you enter large format digital color inkjet printers is a tough assignment. It's hard enough to decide among Encad, HP, ColorSpan, Roland, Graphtec, or the other sign printers. On top of that you need to select what software to use. And the need for a better scanner gets forgotten in all the transition to wide format printers.

FlexiSign software for signmaking is typical or some software that come in several flavors, "lite" and so on. The basic version does not have adequate features but lures you with its low price. Most people complain about "lite" versions that they will not accomplish what the user needs. Of course not, the premium features have been eliminated so that you will upgrade at substantial price and buy the full version, in this case FlexiSign-Pro. This ploy is by no means restricted to ScanvecAmiable.

If you have more than one printer, it is a rude surprise when your software RIP will only power a single printer. Most of the better RIPs have an option to run several printers simultaneously. It's a clever advertising plow to list how many printers your software will run, but then not to fully indicate whether it will run them all at the same time. We just received a complaint about this from someone who had bought a FlexiSign software under the misunderstanding it would run both his printers. Whether this was a slick sales rep or a naive buyer is hard to judge but the end effect is the same, the customer paid for what sounds like the inappropriate product for his specific needs.

Thousands of signmakers surely like FlexiSign. We can only judge by the e-mails that we receive since its expensive and time consuming for us to test each and every software in person. Thus this commentary is not a buyer advisory at all for a specific product, but rather a general wake up call for both sides to be more realistic before and after the sale.

What about SignLab and other comparable software? We are gathering end-user information and as soon as we have information we will report on the CADLink products for large format printing.

The FLAAR evaluation program is dedicated to encouraging people to enter digital imaging, in this case to encourage traditional vinyl cutters. We try to point out as many pitfalls as possible so you not only survive the transition into the digital millennium, but so that you also increase your profit. Besides, digital imaging is enjoyable. Being nonprofit we would not do digital imaging unless it's fun. We need to get something out of all our labor.

All the FLAAR network of web sites will be expanding coverage from our core area (photo realistic printing with wide format inkjets) into the realm of sign printing. Many traditional sign makers e-mail us to say they are losing business to other companies who have already made the transition. Other people who are entering sign making for the first time realize they need an inkjet printer in addition to older traditional equipment. FLAAR visited numerous trade show recently and will be looking more closely at signage aspects of upcoming trade shows in 2003. In the meantime, to provide assistance right now, we have prepared the following reports for you.