ISSUE 513: The high tech office- Aug
Corel's flagship upgrade marks tenth birthday
In almost perfect symmetry, Ottawa-based Corel's
flagship product, Corel Draw is celebrating its tenth birthday with 10
million customers and the release of version 9. (Well, I did say almost
Corel 9 remains targeted at ad-
vanced business graphics users and design pros working on Windows-based
machines (there's a Mac version as well, but that's still in version
As with previous versions, it's a hefty package,
shipping on three CDs along with a trio of hefty manuals, including a
printed library of a massive collection of fonts and clipart.
Fans of the three-dimensional design application,
CorelDream 3D won't find it, but the new version still includes
upgraded editions of its core illustration and bit-mapped photo-editing
programs, Corel Draw and Photo-Paint programs. Also carried over from
previous versions are the Capture and Trace utilities designed to take
digital snapshots of the computer screen and convert bitmapped pictures
into Draw-style illustrations. A new addition is Cumulus, a media
management system, useful in cataloguing collections of photos,
drawings and other media types.
While the dedicated three-dimensional application is
now history, the main Corel Draw program has in-
creased 3D capabilities, including seven effects to give your pictures
the illusion of depth. These are combined with dozens of other effects
and filters which can be combined for almost infinite variations. An
interactive preview function, along with sophisticated undo/redo
capabilities, allows users to experiment with tweaking their drawings.
A new Artistic Pen tool makes it easier than ever to create
realistic-looking lines and shapes.
Graphics can be published in Adobe PDF format
thereby preserving their appearance when displayed on the Web or
distributed to systems that lack a copy of Corel Draw. Web links can be
added to graphics, and text can be converted to HTML. Graphics pros
will appreciate improved EPS capabilities and enhanced colour
management, sore points with users of earlier versions.
The user interface is somewhat changed. The roll-up
palettes to access various features are gone and replaced by more
in-your-face dockers on the right of the screen. The programs now
support Visual Basic for Applications macros.
Photo-Paint 9 now offers support for a wider range of
digital cameras. There's better control of zoom levels and a new
interface for many of the tools. Corel has continued its policy
of integrating features between the Draw and Photo-Paint programs,
sharing effects and filters, colour palettes and more, while saving on
disk space. Many Photo-Paint effects can be accessed from within Corel
Draw, simplifying editing bitmaps within that program.
There remain some quirks, however. As with version 8,
the new version wants users to use the Import command rather than the
more standard File/Open command to work on an existing image.
Users may have a confusing time trying to work with
the included utilities. Trace and Capture can be started up from the
main toolbar's application launcher, but Cumulus isn't. And the
application launcher's very existence is missing in the
otherwise-generous printed documentation and online help -- and the
Help system manages to totally ignore the existence of the Cumulus and
Despite these relatively minor quibbles, Corel Draw
continues to offer a lot of value for the price ($945 for new users,
$299 for upgrades). While competitor Adobe's product line remains the
favourite of graphics professionals, Adobe users need to purchase two
packages, Illustrator and PhotoShop, each at about the same cost as the
single Corel product. And even buying both, Adobe users miss out on the
huge font and clipart collections bundled by Corel.
Corel's new version is worth the upgrade, particularly
for users wanting to make use of its new electronic publishing
features. While the new version offers more to graphics pros than ever,
I suspect that Adobe will continue to maintain its hold on their
hearts, minds and wallets, but Corel will continue to find favour with
the millions of (primarily Windows-based) users looking for serious
graphics capabilities in a more affordable package.
Aspiring Corel Draw users may want to pick up a copy
of the CorelDraw Art and Artistry book and CD-ROM set ($69.99
from Osborne McGraw Hill). The new eighth edition is based on
the illustrations submitted to the 1997 version of Corel's annual World
Design competition. The CD includes 1,000 submissions, along with a
30-day trial version of Corel Draw 8. The book takes a look at the
winners, including step-by-step descriptions of how many were created.
A Tips and Tricks section walks readers through the steps needed to
achieve common effects. A final sec-
tion showcases the contest entrants, all in art-book-quality
The book is a nice merger of a coffee table art book
and a computer manual, while in-
cluding all the artwork on CD (along with the trial version of Corel
Draw) makes it possible to break up the pictures into their component
parts to see how they work. *