They all have their strengths and weaknesses. It's not the only product out there.
Also is Hog PC, LightJockey, Elation Compuware, AxisDMX, Sunlite, and some others. It depends on your needs and budget, but I'd only consider HogPC and LightJockey. The rest don't have as good support and/or user library and/or interface and/or features and/or number of universes.
Watch out for anything that says "starting at." I've worked with another PC-based light system (ET's Horizon) and the basic version which I used has so many limitations - it couldn't even do a simple effects cue, something our ETCExpress 48/96 board does with ease.
Another thot: I visit the LightJockey forum at the Martin website frequently. LightJockey costs about $1200. The software is free, but you pay for the dongle to allow you to send data to the fixtures. At least once a month, there is someone asking if they can buy a cheaper product that will work with the software. And the answer is no. Think about it. The electronics in that box probably cost about $20. I heard the parts for an Ipod are about $30 by way of comparison. But LJ costs $1200. Why? Because someone has to develop the software, and that's not cheap. So why would they (and by they I mean anyone who's written a pc based dmx program) spend thousands of man hours writing this software only to give it away? So if the hardware and software are free or very inexpensive, how good could it be? At the very most, it's a trial version like Mike says, designed to give you a taste so you'll purchase the whole product.
the pc based desks are usually better at running movers than conventionals, because of the interface. Martin sells an add-on for LightJockey called Fingers http://www.martin.com/product/product.asp?product=fingers, which is a board with a lot of buttons AND 12 faders which could be configured to run dimmers (you can do other things with them, but this is just one example). I think HogPC has similar capabilities. If you buy the PCMCIA dongle for LightJockey you get 1024 channels out, and 1024 in, so it is possible to connect a conventionaldesk in and have greater control over faders, etc.
I like LJ because it's small, and portable. It fits on a computer. And for ballyhoo it's very easy to make stuff with 3-4 mouse clicks, and edit on the fly. Conventionals are a weakness, but I don't use them often, and when I do, usually it's only 4 channels, so not a big deal.
I see this thread is really old so I wanted to give a bit of an update. I own lightfactory and really like it. About a year or two ago it went through a huge revision (V2) and added a ton of features. At first, a few years ago, it was unstable, but now the latest build runs flawlessly.
I don't have a huge rig, around 100 conventionals, and 8 intelligent fixtures. But in my experience, this software handles both conventionals and intelligent fixtures excellently. I have yet to find a scenario where this software limits my design. It has great features like timeline effects or timecode so you can put lights to music. I also find that there are often multiple ways to get the same end result, so if one process doesn't work for you, there is usually another way to do it.
Customer service is beyond the moon. Not only will they help find a solution, they will often rebuild the program to meet your needs.
What is it missing? well the same as any software, a cheap control surface. ENTTEC makes one for this software but its not cheap. For getting DMX out of it I have a USB-DMX open interface and an ETHERNET-DMX box from Enttec. The ethernet box has quit on me twice, the USB works fine. But the ethernet box is nice because I can go wireless with the laptop, bringing it where ever I want.
Has anyone else worked with this software? I'd like to hear what others think.
I've tried a lot of different DMX control software. I'm getting ready to try LightFactory, that is if I can get over the price tag of $500.
I've used Martin LightJockey for the past year. My opinion is to stay away from the LJ software unless it's the only DMX control you plan on using for a long time. It has all the bells and whistles that you would want and expect from software, but the execution is absolutely horrible. The software feels and runs from something out of Windows 95. You can do pretty much everything you want to do, if you spends hours upon hours learning the ins and outs of the software. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but some of us don't have time to play with the software for days on end trying to figure out the smallest of detail.
The LJ forums on Martin's website are decently active, which I took as a good sign though I should have read through them first. Lots and lots of questions go un-answered, and while most of the help you'll get on the software will come from the forums, it will most likely come from a post made in 2006 which hasn't been updated in years.
Because of the scheduling features, LJ is awesome for architectural applications, but it's lack of support for conventionals, and it's learning curve and outdated interface and functionality make it less than desirable to the average LD.
I have been researching software based lighting control so we could add moving lights and RGBLED fixtures to our conventional lighting capabilities for our current production of All Shook Up and future shows. Our theater has a 72 channeldimmersystem and an older Colortran (now Leviton) Encore 24/48 Expanded lighting console. The Encore is limited to 550 stored cues and does not include any features for intelligent light control. Based on comments here and elsewhere that LightFactory does LEDs, Movers, and conventional lights well, I tried out LightFactory (V2.12 build 260) in demo mode and later bought a 1 Universe license. Our hardware interface is an ENTTECDMX USB PRO dongle. I'm still working my way up the learning curve but I have been successful getting the show programmed and we are pleased with the results. We opened this past Friday 9-13-2013. Patching in LightFactory was fairly easy and intuitive. It included fixture definitions for the Chauvet COLORado 3 LED fixtures and High End Systems Studio Color 575 and Studio Spot 575 CMY movers we rented for the production but the definitions needed some improvement. I used the included fixture editor to modify the definitions a little to get them to work better for us and also imported more representative fixture images. I also created some simple definitions for some specific conventional fixtures. Cue storage and modification has been a little more difficult to get used to but I did get things done eventually. The Cue List Editor screen allows cues to be copied and deleted. I managed to lock it up once when I moved or deleted a cue and somehow got a next cue link pointing to a no longer existing cue. I later found LightFactory includes a Clean Up Next Cue Numbering option so they have a way to fix it. Even though the cue list locked up, I was able to kill and restart LightFactory and all the cues I had done to that point had been saved. The Cue List Editor also has an pop up Cue List Details screen that allows channels/fixtures to be added or removed from the cue, dimmer levels to be changed, fixture attributes to be set or changed, etc. It is not obvious how to get to the Cue List Details screen and I have to admit I found it by accident and then later spent hours looking for it again. There is little button with just ... as a label in the channel list with each cue that brings up the details screen. I have also modified and created some new effects for the LEDs and movers using the FX Editor screen and some additional palettes using the Palettes Editor screen. I have not yet used the Macro Editor or the Interface Builder. Hope this is helpful to someone else going through the same kind of research.
Added note: I had some issues early on with the virus protection on my Toshiba laptop (Windows 7) interfering with LightFactory. I am currently using Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security (version 6.0.1318). Twice a few days apart, LightFactory suddenly aborted and the executable and desktop shortcut disappeared spontaneously. The first time it happened when I finally decided to buy and register my demo copy of LightFactory from within the startup screen. Bang... Gone. It was undoubtedly trying to access the web in order to register. That time there was a trace left behind in the Trend Micro Scan History log that it had removed the executable and the shortcut. I unchecked one of the default virus protection settings "automatically delete files that show any signs of a threat" so it wouldn't do it again. Thought I was good to go. Later is happened again while I was doing something else in LightFactory. That time there was no trace left behind in the scan log. I then found another virus protection setting "check for suspicious computer behavior and remove the programs involved". I unchecked that too and have been good to go (as far as LightFactory is concerned at least. I reinstalled LightFactory after the first time after copying the current show and fixture definition files elsewhere just in case. I also kept an extra copy of the executable, shortcut, and the download setup files. Both times, my show related files were preserved and lived through the removal and the reinstall. It just scared the heck out of me as the 2nd time was only a couple days before cue-to-cue. Anyway, I don't blame LightFactory for the problems and will probably switch virus protection brands the next time I come due to renew.