Random Thoughts

I’ve been thinking, which is usually dangerous, but since I don’t yet have a Glowforge to occupy my time this sometimes happens. :slight_smile:

I was thinking this morning about the development of the Glowforge so far, how impressed I am with the PRU guys and gals and what they’ve been accomplishing with their lasers, wondering about the features that haven’t made it into the light of day yet, hoping that all is still well in the bypass/cut and flip arena. Then I started thinking about user experience and usability and there is a small worry that has been nagging at me from the back of my brain for a while. It’s obvious that @dan and the Glowforge team are looking to try to make a “universal” laser, good for everyone, not just the Maker community. I respect that, to be honest, it’s part of what caught my attention in the first place, the ease of use. But I worry that there is a dark side too. Often, the easier something is to use the less versitile it becomes. To protect ease of use features tend to be cut, settings tend to be locked and hidden. More complicated/difficult uses are often locked out or never developed so that the untrained/uninformed segment of the owners don’t do something stupid with their machine.

To be clear, I’m not accusing Glowforge of any of this to this point. They are still dialing things in. There have been several comments by @dan and others over the past year and a half that have caused me to wonder, though.

I understand where @dan is coming from on this. He’s imagining a completely ignorant user that has put absolutely no time and thought into what they are doing, they just want to push a button and make it happen. My worry is how far do you go with this and is it, in the end, the best approach? Something I’ve noticed with all of the PRU users, there’s a wide range of ability and knowledge, but what has surfaced is a super helpful community that help to educate and instruct each other in best approches and techniques. I’m wondering if Glowforge wouldn’t be better served in the long run by worrying just a little less about “foolproof,” since that doesn’t exist, and looking for more ways to promote and integrate the community they’ve managed to create more. In the long I can’t help but think that the success of the Glowforge will ultimately lie not just in it’s ease of use, but in the versitility of what people are able to do with it. Sure, there will be some of those that have enough money and little interest in learning that they only cut proofgrade and only cut designs they buy from Glowforge, but economics will keep that section small and the lack of creativity in that group won’t inspire others to dive in, at least not to any great degree.

Just random thought on a rainy day. Feel free to ignore :wink:


Well pretty much every PRU holder has been hammering them on this and I hope they are listening.

A PG setting will not be perfect for a non-PG material but it sure is better than a random number! Generally, I find them to be great starting points and occasionally to be dead on.


Your concern seems perfectly valid. I’ve written a fair share of “Enterprise Applications” / software used on the web by professionals in many industries. There’s always discussion of the trade-off between making it easy for new users (which makes it easy to demo and sell) and making it do a lot of great things to satisfy “power users”. (Often the folks holding the purse strings are not the ones who have to use it day to day, so the product has to be sales-y and have enough flash and pizzazz to get them to buy it, but then to keep customers, it really needs to do things well.) The best products are able to do both smoothly - as you said, “hide” the powerful stuff enough from newbies so they don’t break anything or find it too confusing during the sales process.

I have confidence that the GF team will do this well in the long run. Getting that balance right is a sign of a mature product with a lot of feedback from users, and it takes time (so, I’m planning to be patient). GF was wise to focus on getting the hardware correct and having the software be cloud based for easy updates. They do seem to really listen to customers, so that’s a great sign.

just my 2 cents…


I agree and have noticed that too. I think right now they are just trying to accomplish the original promised “as seen on T.V.” features that everyone signed on for, plus some cool surprises. I can’t imagine they really have the brain space to go beyond that goal. We know the software/GUI can be changed once the units are delivered. Maybe in future iterations there will be a “pro” button on the software that you can push to have all the gritty details be tweekable. I too am hoping that they take a more windows approach instead of the apple approach. Windows=friendly features, but with a little know-how you can get into the guts and change stuff around. Apple=everything works fine, don’t mess with it.


This is a VERY common problem.


I get the point you’re driving at, but this isnt the case anymore. OSX is built on top of UNIX, and while the regular UI is the simple “It Just Works” version, if you want to completely geek out with UNIX/LINUX variants you can do that too. :slight_smile:


Yes! I work with Win10, OS X, and CentOS 7 at work, but not having true shell access in win10 drives me nuts on a daily basis. Powershell and Cygwin approximate the experience at about the 80% level, but I really miss that last 20%.


I intend photographing/scanning all the codes, labelling and printing them and sticking them to squares of thin mdf. This way, by placing them in the GF when needed, i will have a starting point for any non-proofgrade, but similar materials i use. Being in Malta, other than the samples i’ll get with my machine, i doubt if i’ll ever use Proofgrade materials (unless a Eurohub for Proofgrade is in the hopper @dan) .


And I expect that the total noob would be trying to apply PG to non-PG materials. By the time you do that you’re in an informed state and not going to be generating spurious help desk calls.


Not sure that’s gonna work. Once they go to UV invisible codes they aren’t likely to be scannable/label replicated. If you got some now you could do this but they might deprecate support for all existing printed QR codes because the PG in customer’s hands are all in the PRUs so would have a short shelf-life.


If it can read UV QR Code on :proofgrade:, then it should also be able to read same QR in a visible label…just saying. Just like the whole “Do not try this at home” disclaimer, just disclaim that will not provide support for issues related to :proofgrade: codes used for non-:proofgrade: materials. "You may use this as a starting point, but our support department will not assist with this or issues arising from this.


That’s the argument the PRUers are making - GF’s fear of the support desk impact of noobs using PG settings for non-PG materials is something they’re overly worried about. But it seems they’re worried that even with the worries they’re going to get calls.

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I was thinking about this late last night, it’s a tricky balance. You see it a lot with 3d printers. There is the type of printer that works almost every time but only with their one or two types of filament, and with their specific settings and you can’t adjust things like infill, support, wall layers, etc. On the other hand, there is the other printer that you can adjust everything under the sun. It works with 20 types of materials but it is harder to use and has a much higher fail rate. On the plus side, it is much more versatile. I know for me I would rather have the more versatile machine knowing that there are more chances of things going wrong, but there are people who would rather have something that works every time, no matter what.

I hope that glowforge will create a more versatile machine or even a “basic” and “advanced” controls that will allow more customization. I can understand that it’s helpful to have proof grade as a standard to optimize settings for as long as it still has the capability to let the customer tweak and expiriment as well with their own materials.


Damn, i forgot about the UV printing!
Well, hopefully you will be able to choose the PG settings in the settings somewhere.

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I hear this all the time, and I don’t want to start a flame war or even a discussion, but after working for 25 years with all Kind of “unixes”(SunOS, HP-UX…), Linux and using all kind of shells (Kornshell, Z-Shell, bash…) I have to admit that I can do everything with the powershell that I used to do with the bash (and more).

It is different, but not worse. You have to understand that when using the powershell you are working with structured data or objects (and this is a good thing), coming from e.g. bash you are working just with globs of text, that you parse, replace, grep, …

Be open minded and give it a try, it is actually quite nice and super powerful, especially if you have a software development background.


We value ease of use over complexity. We are also, ourselves, a mix of basic and advanced users, and appreciate the needs of both.

Beyond that, I’d say - look at what the product does so far; it’s been pretty thoroughly documented here! If you like that, you’ll see more of it. If you don’t, well… you’ll probably see more of that too. :slight_smile:


To share an experience, I’ve started digital manufacturing a year ago with a 3D printer. I’ve bought it after ordering my glowforge to train myself to this kind of way of thinking.
I was a total noob in this and I started with a diy Prusa i3 with Slic3r and Pronterface. A total opensource hard and software solution quite different from glowforge business model but I have no problem with both (I work as well with Microsoft and Linux without any dogma).

The point is that in Slic3r software, when I started, there was a very few options. That was great for me to do small projects without too much anxiety for doing fatal errors.

And then, when Istarted to be more confident, I was a little frustrated not to be able to do more difficult things with the settings at disposal.

And then I found a magical button called “advanced profile” or something like that. Paw!!! So many settings appeared. Now the field of possibilities seems to be infinite and I m not confident with all those settings yet.

To conclude, I think it will be an error to choose one way (simple vs difficult). The two approaches are compatible with a simple mode / advanced mode and if I had well read some previous PRU posts, it is the case.


This would be a wonderful thing. With some kind of warning you have to sign in blood, like the first time you use “sudo” on a linux system…


The :proofgrade: settings were starting blocks for me as a complete idiot with lasers, but with little experience and experiment the relationship of power/speed/lpi begins to gel.
Under manual control all settings are available as far as I can tell… With the exception of being able to over drive the tube.
I may be mistaken, but it doesn’t seem like any capability of the machine is walled off.


Really interesting idea. I think I will do some of this too. Never hurts to have that reference when using non-proofgrade materials.

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