Business-like, isn't he?


 

 



CorelDraw 4

by Alan Zisman (c) 1993. First published in Our Computer Player, June 18, 1993

from:
Corel Corporation
1600 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 8R7
(613) 728-8200
fax: (613) 728-9790

requires:
Windows 3.1
4 meg ram (8 meg recommended)
5-34 megs hard drive space
 

A story has it that Samuel Gompers, turn of the century head of the
American AFL trade union was asked "What is it that the workers
want?"

He replied, with simple brevity, "More".

Ottawa's Corel Corporation seems to have been listening. Not content
to simply give Windows users a best-selling and award-winning
illustration program, starting with version 3.0, they seem to have
decided to provide a one-stop graphics solution. And now, a year and
a half later, with version 4, they've chosen to give even more.

What do you get? A classy looking black box with hardly any text on it, just Corel'
s hot air balloon motif. Inside, a dozen floppy disks, a couple of
manuals, and count 'em, two CD-ROMs. Corel, which also markets world-
class SCSI drivers to aid users in setting up their CD-ROM players,
was a pioneer in providing CD-ROM versions of their software.
 

ONE-STOP SHOPPING

Corel Draw started life as a Windows illustration
package, way before there was Windows 3.0, even. It quickly gathered
a reputation for being both powerful and relatively easy to use, and
even got the attention of jaded Macintosh graphics professionals. (A
Mac version is finally being released, by the way, as well as a 32-bit OS/2
version).

The world-class illustration program is still there, still keeping its elegant
user-interface, with even more powerful features.

But early on, Corel started adding optional modules. This trend
started with CorelTrace, to let users trace scanned images and other
bitmapped pictures into the vector format used by Corel Draw and
other illustration programs. As well, they added Mosaic, to help
users keep track of clipart collections, and the no-longer needed WFNBOSS, to
convert standard font formats to and frem the proprietary format used by the
early versions of Corel Draw.

But these were basicly minor utilities. Version 3 started to give
users modules that could, for many people, replace other stand-alone
programs. Corel Photo-Paint, a version of Z-Soft's PhotoFinish,
provided much of the functionality of a high end paint, scanner, and
photo-enhancement program like Aldus PhotoStyler.

And used together, Corel Chart and Corel Show were all that many people
needed for presentation graphics. A dedicated program like Lotus
FreeLance or Microsoft PowerPoint might have more features, but was
that worth another $495?

Version 4 keeps all these modules, each of which has been beefed up
with additional features. As well, the user-interfaces have all been
standardized... each uses a toolbar down the side, just like Corel
Draw. (In the case of PhotoPaint, the change came too late to make it
into the documentation, it seems, which still refers to the older Z-Soft
styled interface).

In addition, you get a couple of new modules. CorelCapture is almost a
secret-- I couldn't find any mention of it in the documentation. But
it's simple to use... start it up, and you can capture all or part
of your screen, ready to paste into a graphics-aware application.
Corel Move is a bigger deal. It's an animation program. You can use
it to start with a picture from Corel Draw or Photo-Paint, or
another source, and make it move. Combine it with WAV sounds and get
a talkie. Look out Walt Disney! If you want, you can use the
resulting cartoon to make a Corel Show presentation come alive.

So for the price of a single graphics program, you get a powerful
illustration package, plus a usable paint and photo-enhancer
program, presentation graphics software, and animation. And if you'
ve got a CD-ROM player, you get huge amounts of fonts and clipart as
well. All for no more than the price of a competitor's illustration
program.
 

IN CASE ALL THAT ISN'T ENOUGH...

Many of you are already familiar with Corel Draw 3.0. And if you
aren't, you should know that this older version will continue to be
marketed by Corel, at a new and lower price (about $199). You may
want to look at the enhancements in version 4.0, and decide if it's
worth the upgrade ($199, soon going up to $249). If you don't have
version 3, should you pay the extra cost for the newer version when you can get
version 3 for half the cost of version 4?

The biggest enhancement in the new version of Corel Draw (that is the
illustration program), is its ability to function as a desktop
publisher with the addition of multi-page text support.
No more single page limits; now you can create a 999 page document.
You can import text from a number of word processors, keeping
the formatting intact. Flow text into columns over multiple pages.
Kern letters on screen. A master layer lets you add common elements
to all pages. There's even a spell-check and thesaurus. (One
of my pet peeves... another spell-checker and thesaurus! In my
ideal computer universe, all programs will give me the option of
using a single spell-check module, instead of the half-dozen or so
that I currently have cluttering my hard-drive. We're half way
there-- a number of programs already share these resources, but only
if they're by the same company. So I have a Microsoft spell-checker, and
a Lotus spell-checker, and an Aldus spell-checker...
let's see a little more cooperation here, folks!)
 

There are up to 99 levels of UNDO, and added support for graphics
professionals. You can easily add dimension lines for blueprints and
plans. The number of layers is limited only by available RAM.
Support for colour printing includes licensed PANTONE spot and
processed colour support, TRUEIMAGE colour support, colour
separations, and automatic trapping. Pressure-sensitive graphics
tablets can be used.

If the graphics tech-talk leaves you cold, you'll still find
yourself trying out the  bitmap and fractal textures for backgrounds and fills.
Or the new PowerLines, to better imitate the effect of a wide range
of brushes (or create some never before seen). Also, try the new
conical radial fill.

There are more roll-ups than before. Roll-ups, first introduced in
version 3, are small, floating dialogue boxes that you can (you
guessed it) roll up, leaving just a title-bar. Unlike traditional
dialogue boxes, these don't close when you click on OKAY. They hand
around, rolled-up and out of the way, but easily available for those
operations that you want to access again and again. (By the way, you
can also move the toolbar to wherever you want).

You can import and export in more formats than before, including
Kodak Photo-CD, and compressed JPEG bitmaps. As well, a range of
word processors are included, to go with the new DTP features. There'
s new OLE-2 support, something that we'll be hearing more about in
the near future.

Not only can you duplicate an object, now there's a Clone command. A
clone is like a duplicate, except changes to the original are echoed
in all the clones. You can setup pages to print as cards (shades of
Print Shop!), or as multi-page booklets.

The special effects that made version 3 so powerful are back, with a few
enahncements. You can still easily add text to a path, extrude,
rotate, stretch and mirror text and graphics. You can alter an
object's envelope in more ways than before, creating envelopes from
existing shapes, for example. You can blend two shapes, now with the
ability to rotate the intermediate versions around a central point.
You can easily add 3-dimensional contours.

You can create and apply styles and templates, both for graphics
objects, and for text. This powerful feature means you don't have to
re-create evrything everytime you repeat a similar operation. As
well, there's a powerful Object Data feature. This will prove
invaluable to anyone creating catalogues, combining, for example,
pictures, prices, and descriptions in a similar way over and over
again.

The thing that I like most about Corel Draw is that everything's finally live.
In the original couple of versions, you had to work in a  black and white wire-frame mode. You
edited an outline of your final product. You could view your changes side by
side, but you couldn't edit the final product directly. Similarly, you typed
text into a window, but once it was popped into your illustration, you could no
longer edit it, or change its font or attribute.

No more. You type right onto your drawing. You can wrap text around a shape, add
perspective or other special effects, then fix your spelling. And while you may
choose to work in wire-frmae mode for added speed, I prefer to work right on my
drawing, in full colour.

THE OTHER STUFF GETS BETTER TOO

The other programs share more with the main Corel Draw program... finally a
common interface. But also shared bitmap fills in PhotoPaint and Slide. In
brief:

-- PhotoPaint gets new brushes and filters, including Inpressionist and
Pointillist brushes, like in the innovative Fractal Design Painter. As well,
it's TWAIN compliant, allowing you to scan directly into the program. New,
powerful masking tools improve your ability to work with multiple tools inside a
selected area.

-- Chart adds spreadsheet-like capabilities, allowing you to directly manipulate
your data with 45 functions. It now shares Corel Draw's fill patterns, letting
you use them right in your charts.

-- Show is more of  a multi-media program than ever. You can use animations or
Video for Windows and QuickTime movies right in a slide. You can even add
transitions to individual elements within a slide.

-- Trace has added two new tracing methods: WoodCut and Silhouette, but the big
addition is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) abilities. It is also TWAIN
compliant.

-- Mosaic lets you view more graphics file formats than ever before, and lets
you work in more than one directory at a time. You can drag and drop files, and
even use it to launch other programs.
 

THE CD-ROM BONUS

While you don't need a CD-ROM player to use this software, if you have
one, here's what you get in addition to what's on the floppy disks:
-- The Quick Tour. Corel Draw used to come with a video tape
tutorial. That was before the days of multimedia. Now you get a full-
action video, on your computer. Of course you need a CD-ROM player.
And a sound card. I tried it using the Windows PC-speaker driver,
and could only understand one word in ten.
-- Fonts, fonts, and more fonts. 750 fonts (!) in both True Type and
Postscript Type 1 (ATM) format. If you install from the floppy disks
you get 50 fonts, in True Type format only. If you only used Corel
Draw version 1 or 2, you don't need Corel's proprietary *.WFN fonts
anymore; the program happily uses any TT or ATM fonts on your
system, and the fonts included will be used by all your Windows
applications.
-- Clipart. Who needs a deciated clipart package when you get 14,000
pieces of art here? Even some Canadian pictures... John A. MacDonald
along with George Washington. Of course, the big market still IS
south of the border, so you get lots of US Senators who I, at least,
have never heard of. And a minor gripe... you get a font & clipart
catalogue which attempts to be multilingual by grouping the art by
categories identified by icons. And the clipart is identified only
by 8-letter DOS filename. So if, like me, you don't know who the
subjects of a few hundred of the portraits are, a filename like
WALTRSDL may not be much help. Come on guys... Anyway, lots of well-
drawn clipart, covering a wide variety of categories.

If I haven't convinced you to get a CD-ROM player yet, think about
this: a full installation from the floppy disks requires 34 megs of
hard drive space (you can get it down to under half of this by only
choosing some of the modules). You can, however, run it from your CD-
ROM player, in which case you need to only dedicate 4 megs of hard
drive space to the program.

Like everything in life, there's a down-side: Installed right on to
my hard-drive, it takes 38 seconds to load the program on my 386-25. Running the
program from my (admittedly relatively slow) Mitsumi CD-ROM player
on my 386-33, it takes almost 3 minutes to start the program. As
well, loaded that way, I can't access the clipart on the second CD-
ROM disk... I'd need to either copy the clipart to my hard drive, a
little at a time, or buy a second CD-ROM player!
 

BUYER BEWARE?

Version 3 got a bit of a bad rep when it first came out. Quickly reported bugs
led to a version 3A and 3B being distributed at some cost and embarassment to
Corel. Many users felt like they'd been paid good money to act as Corel's beta-
testers.

Why am I bringing up old news? Well, following a message in the Fido-net
LaserDTP area, I created a simple drawing with version 4, and exported it as a
CGM file. Corel hasn't published the file format for their CDR saved files, so
very few applications are able to import them directly.

Then I tried to import the CGM file into both PageMaker version 4, and the
working demo version of Quark XPress for Windows. PageMaker refused to touch the
Corel CGM file. Quark imported it, but the text was upside down!

Corel was very good in quickly fixing problems with version 3, but only to users
who complained. Why can't they get it right the first time?

This is a powerful program, that still is fairly easy to use. Version 4 adds new
DTP possibilities, along with extra colour support. The animation module is fun
and has lots of creative possibilities. If you tried to individually buy a powerful
illustration package, a paint/photo program, a presentation graphics package,
and more, you'd pay about $2000. And if you've got a CD-ROM player, the added
fonts and clipart are a great bonus.

On the other hand, for users with modest graphics needs, it's an expensive
program to buy or to upgrade from earlier versions. Since Corel is continuing to
market version 3 at half the cost of version 4, look at your budget and your
needs to determine which version to get.
 
 


(Note from the year 2003): The above article was originally published in 1993, as a review. A decade and more later, I've gotten a series of emails from CorelDraw
fans hoping that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for copies of older software to check at eBay or at OldSoftware.com.If you check on my Files
webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)

 
 
 



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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan