Designaknit provides different modules for different tasks. It is possible to switch between those modules during the design process.
The Garment Styler provides a dialog that helps the user chose from various garments that are graded according to the measurements provided by the user. The prefigurations are meta-designs hardcoded into DAK and can neither be provided nor adapted by the user.
The Stitch Designer can be used to design stitch patterns, and is very similar to Microsoft Paint. If a special stitch-font has been installed, the drawing can be turned into a stitch chart.
In interactive knitting the knitting machine provides feedback to the computer via the knitting link. This feedback is then used to simulate the knitting process inside the computer, to provide the user with additional help.
The Graphics Studio can be used to convert bitmaps in standard computer graphics formats into DAK stitch patterns. It reduces the colour and image resolution to match the constraints imposed by the knitting machine.
This module extends upon the Standard Garment Styler, giving the user complete control over the style of garments (aka sewing patterns or garment patterns) thus complementing the Stitch Designer which is used to design the patterning of the knitwear. The Origianl Pattern Drafting tool is very similar to Vector Graphics programs such as Corel Draw.
The Lace Tool provides support for the design of lace patterns.
The original version of Designaknit was developed for Windows 3.1. Later versions of DAK are still backwards compatible though they require a graphics card capable of hires mode (at least 256 colours) while original SVGA standard only provides for 16 colours.
The look and feel of the user interface seem like a tribute to retro computing. This is due to the fact that Designaknit is an ancient 16 bit executable that is emulated inside the Virtual DOS machine (NTVDM) when run on 32bit systems such as Win95, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Since the virtual dos machine is not available in 64-bit versions of Windows, such as Windows Vista, Designaknit can currently not be run natively under Windows Vista.
It is possible to run Designaknit inside an emulator, though this can be tricky, since both copy protection, and the forwarding of the USB/serial ports of the emulated machine to the ports of the actual computer may not work as required.
DAK uses a combination of copy protection and dongle to keep its users from using it in ways not anticipated by Softbyte Ltd.
The software is protected by a cobination of License Number and Serial Number.
To make sure that the software will only be installed on a limited number of computers, Designaknit came up with the animistic notion of lives residing on a floppy disk. These lives could be downloaded onto a computer to activate a license, and saved back to the disk, to transfer it to another computer.
Since modern computers don't have disk drives any more, Designaknit is now also distributed on CD-ROM. The CD-ROMs use a copy protection scheme, effectively turning them into dongles: Designaknit will only launch if the CD-ROM is inside the computer.
Designaknit generates a Hardware-Key (Lock Number) to uniquely identify the user's computer. This number can be used to request a key from Softbyte, so DAK can be run without the need for a CD-ROM-Drive. While this reduces the strain on your CD and even allows you to install Designaknit on netbooks such as the EEEPC, you have to request a new key each time you change your hardware.
The hardware key is also used to determine wether the computer that DAK runs on, and the computer where the software is installed are actually the same. This is probably intended to prevent owners of Designaknit from running several instances of DAK on a local network, even though they only own a single license.
Designaknit used to be the only manufacturer of cable links for various knitting machines, keeping the inner workings of the cables a trade secret. Although the cables do not constitute dongles in the classical sense, their prohibitevly high prices, and Softbyte's effective monopoly in the cable link market, provided additional copy protection.
Designaknit is the only software of its kind in the home knitting CAD market. This results in prohibitively high prices (300 to 500 US-Dollars per license).
The lack of competition may account for the fact that DAK has not seen any notable improvement over the last 10 years. The focus was evidently on compatibility with new versions of Windows and on advancement of copy protection, rather than improvement of usability or development of fundamentally new features.
Designaknit limits its users rather than empowering them. It uses proprietary file formats, rather than relying on, or developing open standards for the exchange of knitting patterns.
Designaknit is armed with heavy copy protection. Users cannot create a backup of their own CD-ROM unless they use special backup software which may be illegal in their country.
The copy protection limits the ways in which the software can be used. Running DAK on a Network turned out to be quite a hassle at the University of Brighton, and running DAK on Windows Vista, inside emulators or on Linux is not officially supported and requires some hacking on behalf of the user.
The FB-100 Utility and the FB-100 Emulator, developed by Jos Timmermans, are immensly useful for owners of Brother electronic knitting machines. Both programs can be downloaded for free, but the FB-100 Emulator needed to connect to the knitting machine only works with Brother USB-Links sold by IBB van der Burgt.