NEWS: PixelCNC v1.74b is Live!

PixelCNC v1.71b

 PixelCNC v1.71b has gone live! This is a smaller bugfix update that resolves several issues - a few of which that were introduced with some of the changes that came with the v1.70b update. We've also changed how activating PixelCNC to remove free trial mode restrictions works.

 Here are the major changes and fixes that come with v1.71b:


Value Knobs

 A change was made in v1.70b with how value knobs interpreted mouse input in the user interface system, which improved responsiveness with some knobs but caused others to become unusably desensitized. We've gone through and tuned UI value knobs to behave as we expect they should.

 One of the recent changes was to include acceleration dynamics in the interpretation of mouse input to the value of a UI knob. This was carefully tuned for most knobs so that slowly adjusting the value would reduce the rate of value change for a given mouse travel distance. Conversely, faster adjustment would result in a larger rate of change for the same travel distance. However, some knobs that have a large value range, or a tiny increment, were adversely affected, such as the machine origin percentage knobs and this was missed with the v1.70b update before its release.

 We'd like to reiterate that the dynamics of UI value sliders have also been modified to behave more like value knobs.

 We've also fixed the mousewheel scrolling adjustment of value knobs being broken in v1.70b. You can adjust value knobs by simply hovering the mouse cursor over them and scrolling the mousewheel. The SHIFT modifier key applies here as well, incrementing the value by 10x the normal increment for each mousewheel click.


Left-Click Selection of Paths

 The behavior around selecting paths by left-clicking them has been improved with this update as well. With metric projects the distance from mouse cursor to a path (while the path-editing mode is enabled) was 25.4x smaller than that of projects created with imperial measurement units. Selecting paths should be identical between metric and imperial projects now.

 This also affects inserting new nodes onto existing paths - basically anything that involves detecting which paths and where those paths are clicked on has been improved. As far as distinguishing between when users are placing nodes to extend/draw a path and inserting a node onto an existing selected path, the distance to place a node onto a path is half of the distance the cursor must be to left-click select a path.


Tapered Ballnose Percentage Stepover

 The 'Stepover' parameter for operations includes the option to specify a cut stepover as either a physical distance or a percentage of the currently selected tool's diameter. Previously, for a tapered ballnose tool whose flute width was automatically calculated from the ballnose radius, taper angle, and flute length, a percentage stepover was in terms of this calculated flute width.

 This has been changed, per user request, to be in terms of the diameter of the ballnose whose radius is user-specified for the tool. Entering a cut stepover as a percentage of a tapered ballnose is now relative to 2x the radius of the tool's ballnose geometry.


Layer Handle Sensitivity

 Layer handles seemed rather desensitized to us with the previous update and have also been tuned to better represent what we feel is an appropriate sensitivity level when manipulating layers in the 3D view. At some point their sensitivity was reduced, likely to facilitate precise positioning and sizing, but this reduction in sensitivity was somewhat overkill. We've brought the sensitivity when adjusting a layer's position and dimensions back to something more agreeable.


Layer Origin Bug

 If a project contained a layer whose origin is 0,0,0 the layer's origin would not show under Layer Properties when the project is opened and the layer selected. The origin XYZ editbox values would just be blank, showing only the measurement units suffix. The layer origin would only refresh in the UI if the layer was moved around in the 3D view by its layer handles, or manually changed via the origin XYZ editboxes.

 This would occur when opening such a project after starting PixelCNC. If a different project was opened or the user otherwise did anything involving layers before opening a project with a zeroed out origin the issue would not be seen.


Raster/Text Along Paths Issues

 The Along Paths function had a recurring issue since its introduction many versions ago that caused the Repeat Spacing parameter to affect its output when it shouldn't. The parameter is only shown when the Repeat Layer option is enabled on the dialog, because it's meant to only affect how repetitions of the raster/text layer should be spaced apart along paths.

 If the spacing parameter were changed to a non-zero value, and Repeat Layer subsequently disabled - hiding the spacing parameter, the resulting raster-layer generated by the function would appear squished along the paths it was conformed to in the resulting raster-layer output - in spite of the Along Paths preview shown in the 3D view appearing as intended. The actual raster-layer output and the preview would not match.

 The spacing parameter ended up affecting multiple aspects of the generated raster-layer's contents and all of these have been fixed.


Sweep Paths Crash

 A crash bug has been fixed for the Sweep Paths function, which enables extruding designated 'profile' paths along/between designated 'rail' paths, blending between the differently shaped profiles. This enables the creation of flowing organic 3D shapes in a simple and intuitive way using the path-layer editing system.

 The crash would occur when trying to generate a swept shape if profiles were not spaced apart from each other - specifically, when they're all sitting at the same point along their rail(s), such as their default 0.5 position. To prevent this from occurring PixelCNC now pops up an error message warning users that their profiles have not been separately positioned, rather than attempting to generate a swept shape with zero length and crashing out.


Max Framerate

 We've increased the maximum allowable framerate from 200 frames per second to 240. This setting is found on the View Settings dialog, under the Config menu. This change reflects that some newer high-framerate monitors only include refresh rates of 60, 120, 240, etc.


Online Activation Requirement

 Since v1.00a's release we've taken pride in providing PixelCNC users with the ability to use the software they've paid for on more than one system at a time - with or without an internet connection. In an effort to make an attempt at a marketing and PR strategy we've opted to implement an online activation requirement so that we can offer product keys for promotional purposes to content creators and social media influencers alike. This requires that a mechanism is in place to limit the number of activations allowed for each key and that also allows us to revoke the activation status of a key.

 Multiple activations per key are still allowed and new activations will require an online connection. After activating PixelCNC it only needs to be able to check for updates once every few weeks to re-validate  the activation status of the key that was used to activate it. It is not necessary that any available updates are actually installed but if PixelCNC is not able to check for updates for a decent interval it will prompt users with the option to either check for updates or have it temporarily revert to functioning as a free trial until it is able to check for updates again.

 However, we are instituting a hard limit of three (3) concurrent activations per product key starting with v1.71b's release. Systems that PixelCNC has already been activated on will not need to re-activate online after installing the v1.71b update. PixelCNC should continue functioning normally as long as it can check for updates online every few weeks.

 If your existing activated installations of PixelCNC have been able to check for updates at any point in time then our servers have already counted those systems toward your key's activation limit. If you have activated PixelCNC on more than 3 systems you will need to deactivate it from enough systems to bring your activation count below the activation limit before you can use your key to activate PixelCNC on another system again. We feel that this keeps in line with our philosophy of allowing users to enjoy the software they've paid for on more than a single system while still affording us the ability to promote and market PixelCNC in more effective ways.


What's Next?

 As mentioned previously, we're currently working to better market PixelCNC by establishing relationships with social media content creators to demonstrate what it can do as a fully viable alternative to the expensive software that's out there. We'll also be hammering out a number of new tutorials that go deeper into the various functionality of PixelCNC and its editing modes. They will demonstrate how to wield some of its capabilities to achieve specific effects and results for projects.

 That's all for now. Thanks for reading and happy CNCing!

 - Charlie


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