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PixelCNC v1.64b Overview

The PixelCNC v1.64b update includes some new features and functionality revolving around working with text-layers. Navigating and working with fonts has been improved along with a new Character Map dialog to make it easy to seek out and use characters from a font - which is particularly useful when incorporating dingbats (I know, what a silly name) into a project's design.

Some more bugfixes are also included that also mostly involve text-layers and overall reliability/stability when working with them.

 

Character Map

 A new dialog has been added for users to quickly find what they're looking for from dingbat fonts. This is the new Character Map dialog and it can be accessed while in  the text-layer editing mode. Included at the bottom of the dialog are some buttons for moving the editing cursor left/right as well as for adding a space or performing a backspace to delete the character that the cursor leads.

 The Character Map generates character previews at a pointsize that the user can adjust from the UI Settings dialog accessed via the Config menu. If users find that the charmap is slow to generate on their system they can decrease this setting, sacrificing visibility. Conversely, if the characters are too small, or otherwise not clear enough, this setting can be increased up to 128pt, which will both enlarge the display of characters in the Character Map and also spend more compute resources rendering them. Most systems should be able to update the charmap within seconds when it is opened or different fonts are selected.

 

Alphabetized Font Navigation

 The text-layer editing mode now also includes a set of alphabet buttons at the top of the font list for quick navigation of the font list. Users no longer must scroll through hundreds or thousands of fonts - they can quickly jump around with the alphabet buttons to find a specific font by  the letter that its name begins with.

Previously, font filepaths were cached at startup for PixelCNC to know where exactly each TrueType/OpenType font was that the user would expect to see when editing a text-layer. Fonts were sorted by their filename, which is not always the same as the font's actual "family name".

As such, PixelCNC now also performs...

 

 

 

Font Name Precaching

At startup PixelCNC now loads up each font found on the system to extract its family name and style name, which is then cached alongside the font's filepath. This precaching of font names takes a few seconds, especially with a physically spinning harddrive. In our tests on a system with a 7200RPM harddrive, 786 fonts load in ~18.5 seconds, which comes out to ~25ms per font on average.

This all occurs in the background after PixelCNC has initialized. It is fully functional and usable while font names are caching with the exception that fonts are not sorted alphabetically until after all of their names have been cached. In order to avoid a myriad of issues, the ability to edit a text-layer is disabled until precaching completes. Those with a solid-state drive should be able to edit text-layers by the time they're able to create one. On our test system equipped with a solid-state drive 1200+ font names cache in under two seconds, for example.

PixelCNC also retains its previous font caching functionality. This keeps a few dozen fonts resident in memory to generate the "Aa" preview icon that's displayed next to each font while scrolling through the font list.

 

Discontinued 32-bit Builds

v1.64b marks the first release that will no longer be including 32-bit automatic updates for any users out there that may still be relying on them. We've been tracking the number of autoupdate requests for all builds of PixelCNC and there have been zero for the 32-bit version during the entire beta - which was launched during March. That's a solid four months without any of the pre-beta PixelCNC users needing these builds.

32-bit builds were available for download prior to the beta launch during PixelCNC's alpha phase of development. Updates for them were "grandfathered in" to allow those users a transitional period in spite of 32-bit builds of PixelCNC no longer being available for download from our site. To our knowledge there have only ever been a handful of 32-bit users due to their systems being older, or because they accidentally had the 32-bit version of Windows installed on their 64-bit system. We're not seeing any of these users pinging our servers for 32-bit updates anymore so hopefully it's safe for us to discontinue them entirely.

This will help simplify the process of releasing updates from now on as there will only need to be a downloadable 64-bit version on the website itself (which has been the case since the beta's launch) and 64-bit automatic update packages.

 

What's Next?

 We have been talking about making more tutorial videos for a year now. It's time. We've had a bit of feedback come in over the last two months about what users would like to learn how to do, what they'd like to see in tutorial videos, and we've about tallied it up and have a list that's prioritized based on user feedback. We're always looking for more feedback - if there's anything users want to learn how to do or need help with please feel free to email us at: support@deftware.org.

Happy CNCing!

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