ISSUE 588: Zisman- Jan 30 2001
The high-tech office
Corel good value for OK product
Ottawa's Corel Corp. is the closest
thing Canada has to a company trying to be Microsoft. Corel
founder and until recently CEO Michael Cowpland challenged the
big guysby buying Wordperfect and pitting it against Office and
in pushing Linux as an alternative toWindows.
But, ironically, Corel's core product doesn't
challenge Microsoft at all. Instead, Corel Draw has, foryears, gone up
against the graphics leader, Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshopprograms.
Corel Draw is now 12 years old, with an all-new
Version 10 (about $800) that the company calls itsbiggest upgrade ever.
It continues in its long-standing tradition of cramming more stuff into
the boxthan anyone else. Three CDs, hundreds of fonts, thousands of
clip-art images and photos, and a pile ofutilities. Despite including
all that stuff, Corel has cleaned up and trimmed down. While the
goodiesare there if you want them, installation is surprisingly slim,
smooth and tidy.
While competitor Adobe bundles each of its products
separately, Corel has, for years, offered agraphics suite. The main
Corel Draw program is an illustration program à la
AdobeIllustrator. Photopaint, not coincidentally, sports a name
reminiscent of Adobe Photoshop. And with alot of the excitement in the
graphics world focused around animation software such asMacromedia
Flash, it should be no surprise that new to Corel Draw 10 is Flash-like
Version 10 offers lots of changes to the Draw program,
starting with a new, more customizableinterface. A Navigator window
makes it easy to find your way around a large image. One of my
favouriteadditions is the Perfect Shape tool. A subtle reminder that
Corel also markets Wordperfect, it makesit easy to make stars,
captions, organization chart shapes, arrows and the like. I also like
the easyway that you can duplicate a colour used somewhere in a drawing
and drag it to apply it to any otherobject.
Real Time Preview helps you see what will happen when
you experiment with sometimes complex options.And, like Photoshop,
there's now a History list, letting you step back to a better past.
(No, it can'tbe applied to relationships or the stock market.)
Corel Draw can be used to produce complete Web pages
or page layouts, but you'll be better off with adedicated Web or page
design program. You can use Corel Draw for these but, then
again, you canuse a large screwdriver to hammer in a nail, too.
Many of the enhancements such as Real Time Preview,
Web image optimizing and better colour managementappear in the
Photopaint module as well as the Draw module. In Photopaint, moving
around a largegraphic, panning and zooming in real time is now easier;
text looks smoother, even in small sizes; anddrop-shadows are created
more easily and with more control. However, a red-eye removal tool,
standardwith most home photo software, doesn't work as advertised.
Corel promises a downloadable improvedversion.
RAVE (Real Animated Vector Effects) is the new module,
allowing users to create animations and savethem in Macromedia Flash,
animated GIF or Windows Video AVI formats. It's not as powerful as
Flash,but is easier to use, particularly if you're familiar with
Corel-style interfaces. Saved files don'tcompress as well as those made
with Flash, however, which will be a problem on the Web, where filesize
I am disappointed that Corel has joined the herd in
downsizing documentation, both in print and on thedisk. Hardly anyone
actually reads software manuals, but I've always found them somehow
Version 10 is currently only available for PCs; a Mac
version is reportedly in the works. As well,Corel tends to continue to
sell its older versions at reduced prices. None of the suite
modulesoutperform the Adobe counterparts, but since you can buy the
whole Corel bundle for about the price ofone Adobe product, it re-mains
a great value.