I've been experimenting with Cochenille's Garment Designer software and I like it. So far it only enhances my natural way of planning a design. It doesn't bog me down or leave me doing most of the work after all.
This isn't the best photo but I don't have any designs published yet for which I can share better examples.
It all hinges for me on how I use the grid option (In the Display menu select "Grid settings" then input the exact measurements per stitch and per row based on your gauge swatch; use all decimal places). I don't think many people know what they can do with this, judging from conversations I've had. Thanks to the grid printouts customized to my stitch & row gauge, I just settle into my comfy chair with an espresso and shift into Contract Crocheter for Self mode. To write up the pattern in different sizes, I print these maps for each standard size and "merely" translate the map into text. What a load off.
Here's a closeup of the grid that is scaled exactly to the gauge of my stitch pattern repeat. This is not the most straightforward example (sorry!) but figure 1 box = 1 stitch with the height of two different rows averaged together. This is why I've drawn the purple lines for myself: the narrow purple strip is a vertical row of short sts, the wider purple strip is a row of taller sts. (Sure wish I could show you my gauge swatch. Should I have waited on blogging about this until better examples are published?!)
I haven't tried every stitch pattern under the sun yet, but so far I've found a way to create grids for any stitch pattern in grid-like rows (even those that don't seem like such). I don't know yet if I could come up with a way to do diagonal mesh-based st pats. In other words, I could do a grid for big ol' fans that stack in columns, but I don't know yet about fans that are offset and stack in alternating rows (i.e. the classic shell st pat).
I can do some motif-based constructions with this grid method but probably not all; and I might find a way to do ripple pats. These aside, so far I've done:
-rows of different heights alternating (pictured)
-pretty wide range of stitch repeat sizes
-a design with an exaggerated edging that would have been painful without this software.
Side-to-side construction (pictured) is easy-peasy.
Not sure how I'd do *cough*dorischan*cough* seamless-top-down-in-the-round!