What's new in the 2021 edition?

New 'OXS' (Open X-Stitch) File format

Why would we want a new file format?

Cross Stitch software has now been around for over 30 years.
During that time, suppliers have come and gone, and no doubt new software will be developed in the future.
Throughout the history of computers in the home, and their use in designing cross stitch (or similar) patterns, each software manufacturer has created a file format that was suitable for their individual needs.
Invariably, this file format was a binary one - sometimes using ‘standard’ routines from the development language, sometimes using custom developed routines.
The file formats were proprietary, and unless details of the algorithm used to create these was shared,
one software product was unable to make use of data created in another.
Rather like having each product speak a different language without an interpreter.

This has meant that designs created in 'dead' software packages such as EasyCross, or Myriacross, to name just two, can no longer be opened or used in any software product that is still on sale .
Effectively , such work is lost - or needs to be created from scratch, which is a shame.
Similarly, anyone who wishes to use a new or additional software product will find that work created on one package cannot be used in another - until now it would have to have been recreated.

Open Cross Stitch (OXS) file format is an attempt to break down the barriers that exist between these software packages, so that (if need be), any software package can create a file that can be understood by any other package. At a minimum, it will allow designs created using Ursa Software products to be easily 'understood' by other products or suppliers in the future.

It is our hope that this format will be added to other suppliers products (it is not a big job), so that if/when a supplier goes out of business (which has happened many times over the years due to financial, health, or retirement reasons), designs created using package X will be usable in package Y
It will also allow new software to be developed quickly, and potentially new services to be developed, making use of the design work intended for cross stitch but with an application elsewhere, such as tiling, rugs, paving, lighting or more.
And a market / library of charts can be created that has a larger number of potential users, since
every software product could ‘speak a common language’ even if they also continue to use their own format 'normally'

Developers can find the documentation

Horizontal and Vertical half stitches

The new ‘long and wide’ half stitches stretch over 2 x 1 normal stitch placements.
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This image uses French Knots to show where to click, in order to place one of the new stitches - top left corner of the 2 x1 area.

Rococco / Queen Stitch

Another new 'stitch shape' is the diamond shape.
Originally intended to represent Queen stitches, it can be used to represent charms, or any other 'object' you want to decorate your design with.
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Rulers show the centre mark

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New files

  • 230 New motifs
  • New Backstitch and other Alphabets
  • New Frames

Marquee Zoom

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Select an area and zoom straight into it.

Output to Excel as CSV

Alternate 'Simple Key' in PDF export

(premium edition)
We have long had a detailed key in the PDF export, but many people asked for it to be 'all on one page'
We can't get all the detail on one page if there are too many colours in the chart, so in order to meet the 'one page' key, we introduced a new alternative key for PDF output. (The original method is still available)
For the new key, you have the ability to include things like design size calculated 'as if it was done on another type of cloth', and other text notes to suit yourself.

In this screenshot, you can see we have invented a 'Fave Food' item, while for others we chose the chart title, or the 'size at 18 count'
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And the simple key outputs these text items, your logo, and a simple symbol/thread number key which (for nearly all charts) should fit on a single page.

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Watermarked PDF

(premium edition)
You now have the ability to put a simple watermark across your PDF export pages.
We don't want to get into too much fluff and detail- for now, you can choose whether or not to have a watermark, what words it will say, and what color the letters use, on the 'Other' tab of the PDF export screen.

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Auto Select..is like flood fill but for selecting areas.
Choose this from the menu, click on a color, and all touching stitches of that color will be selected.
Click another color, and it 'adds together' areas, so that you could (for example) select 4 shades of green at once in an irregular shape.
Then do the usual cut/move/replace/flip options that previously only worked on rectangles.

This screenshot shows 3 different areas/colors all selected at the same time, with a blue hue.
(Top, side, and shadow areas are selected here)
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Convert ACO file into a Threads file

Photoshop ACO files define a set of colours. Now you can open one and turn it into a .threads file.

Export for PatternKeeper

(premium only)
PatternKeeper is a popular mobile app used to markup PDF files.
While the steps needed to create a file it likes are documented, this menu option applies the right settings for you in one click.

Diamond Painting

Several new export options for Diamond Painters
People have struggled to get output to be exactly 1/10 inch per block , despite the manual and help files.
These new options generate PNG or PDF files that are specifically set to the right size, with the chart all on one page, and a key on the same page.
The page can also carry a logo.
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The output can be square or round diamonds, too.
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'Scarf Mode' Rotation Option

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BackStitch Color / Strands

Backstitches can now have their own color for export, and their own strands. This avoids having to add a color to the palette twice, and lets you select a visible color for printing, if the backstitch is pale.
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But wait, there's more...

  • Apply alternate color to several threads at once (no need to set 'ALL to grey/ ALL to white' )
  • Added a vertical progressmarker.
  • Progressmarker can now be added or removed using the CTRL-click option
  • Ability to have numbering start at the middle and work out - new preference
  • Added popup menu on palette when in Layer editor: this allows flash/highlight and remove stitches of current thread
  • Added 'number plus skeins' as an option on the Print dialog, so you can have both.
  • TextBox editor dialog - change the words of a text box after adding one.
  • Ruler numbering can start from the centre line / not the edge of the design if desired.
  • Lock Grid button on the lower toolbar , prevents accidental changes to the design
  • New: 'Replace exposed cloth by current color' - lets you fill everything which is cloth with a color - useful for diamond painters
  • Can make the key in a PDF use A4 page size even if the main pages are much larger
  • can set the color of centre lines for PDF and printing independently of what is visible on screen
  • Added ability to target huge paper sizes such as 2A0 and 4A0
  • Markup can be a solid block or just a tick - allows you to see what was underneath a marked section.
  • Single strand items can be displayed as just a cross in stitch view so you can distinguish between 1 and 2 strand areas
  • 'Assign Random Symbols' to the palette at any time
  • Crochet notes are now 'per chart' and remembered on reloading
  • Added the ability to switch toolbar captions into the Toolbar menu
  • Added 'Markup Current Color' to Mark menu
  • Optional extended border around grid for print and PDF
  • PDF now generates only one key instead 'one key per style' to save you deleting pages