Several cross-stitch applications are available to run under Windows, but Stephen Allewell’s wife was frustrated to find that none of them gave her everything she wanted of them. “She asked me to have a look at creating an application for Linux,” the English developer recalls. “I started work on KXStitch in early 2002, and it has been an ongoing project since then.”
KXStitch is a graphics editor for creating cross-stitch charts – think of a mosaic made with cotton thread. Cross-stitchers normally work off bought or downloaded charts; KXStitch allows them to either create a chart from scratch from their own designs, or import pictures and convert them to a chart that can be further edited to produce just the design they want. It also allows pictures to be used as a background image, so users can trace an image as needed where an import might not give them the desired result. When finished, users can print charts, along with a key to the cottons used to stitch the finished design.
A recent enhancement for the latest version, which was released earlier this month, is an improved pattern library that allows users to apply saved patterns to any existing or new pattern by copying and pasting or dragging and dropping onto their current chart. Users can export and import these libraries, and so share them with other KXStitch users. Allewell says, “My hope is that users will be generous enough to share their work with others, in keeping with the open source philosophy.”
As KXStitch grew, so did Allewell’s skill as a developer. “I originally started the development process with KDevelop using KDE2/Qt, as I was new to developing graphics applications and new to developing on Linux. I found KDevelop was easy to use and provided a wealth of tools to aid the development process. Since then I have moved away from KDevelop and just maintain my own build files as I have gained more knowledge of Linux and the development process.”
Not that he was any stranger to Linux to start with. “I started using Linux about 15 years ago, mainly as a hobby thing to try it out and see what it was capable of. Over the years I moved more and more to Linux until I was using it full time, dual-booting with Windows to keep my wife happy. About 10 years ago I persuaded my wife to try Linux, and over a couple of months she gradually became a full-time user too. Now she hates using Windows. We are both amazed and inspired by all the people that give their time to develop such a wide range of applications that are made available to everyone without any requirement to give anything in return. Because of that I felt it was only right to make a contribution to the open source culture.”
Allewell says KXStitch today is fairly feature-complete. “My main aim now is to start a major rewrite to KDE4 and switch to the CMAKE build system. I also want to create a page layout tool so users can create their own printing layouts instead of just having the default arrangement of pages. Unfortunately progress is sometimes slow because of the busy pace of life these days, but I try to get as much done as I can, and always respond to user queries promptly, particularly when bugs are reported.”
If anyone would like to help with KXStitch, Allewell says the most useful task would be translating it into more languages. He also says feedback from users is essential: “what’s good, what isn’t, additional features needed, better ways of working. Not being a stitcher myself, I do get a lot of input from my wife, but having the views of more people is invaluable to develop the project to be as useful to as many people as possible.” You can get in touch via the project’s forums and mailing lists, or via e-mail.