Sneak Preview: CorelDraw 9 for Linux
An Overview of CorelDraw 9 Beta 2
There are some things that don't make themselves clear enough when you're a Reviewer With a Short Attention Span until they arrive in a FedEx envelope with an invitation to look. It doesn't help that everyone who's ever heard the word "Linux" has an opinion on what it will take to "elevate" Linux to the corporate desktop, causing reviewers to run around flapping our arms at spreadsheets, databases, and support contracts.
Fortunately, a few minutes with CorelDraw 9 beta release 2 can lend some clarity in an otherwise noisy and crowded situation and cause even the most obtuse reviewer to stop for a moment, gather his wits, and realize that Corel has just tossed a couple of platinum chips in the pot.
Before going any further, I'll make a few disclaimers:
I love the GIMP. I've always loved the GIMP. I probably won't be saying anything in this preview that will cause the GIMP's core audience to throw down their mouses and reach for their credit cards. As a community, we have every right to be proud of an application even Adobe's support people are rumored to recommend to Linux users inquiring about a PhotoShop port.
On the other hand, there's an audience of folk migrating into our community who have needs even the GIMP isn't quite up to filling: though work is being done on incorporating Macromedia Flash support, for instance, and there are ways around pre-press and color calibration issues, these are still things incompletely addressed by the once and future champion of free software graphics tools. There's also a community within our community attracted to tools with a similarity to the operating system they still think of as "home": Windows 9x. CorelDraw 9 looks like it may step in to satisfy that userbase, and provide Linux with another powerful argument in the battle for home and office desktops.
Getting CorelDraw 9
The CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite is composed of Photo-Paint, a bitmap image editor providing photo-editing and painting capabilities; and CorelDRAW, a vector graphics tool for creating illustrations.
The suite is currently in beta release. Later this month, Corel will be releasing Photo-Paint as a free download. In August, the entire suite (Phot-Paint and CorelDraw combined) will be released with a price comparable to the Windows version.
The suite is shipped in RPM and Debian's .deb format for installation, and Corel includes a couple of additional support RPM's specifically for Red Hat.
The stated requirements for the system are light: a Pentium 200 with 64 MB RAM and 256 MB of hard drive storage.
The immediate eye-catcher in terms of the feature set of the suite is CorelDraw's support for Macromedia Flash as a file-export option. We'll take a look at that a little further in the article. Though there are tools like Olivier Debon's Swift Generator, the ability to author content with a full-featured vector graphics tool is a definite plus.
The second noteworthy feature in the package is Corel's inclusion of ICC color management profiles and Pantone color palettes. These features are important to shops looking to make the jump to the Linux desktop for prepress work. A standing complaint in terms of using Linux for professional, production quality print graphic work has been the lack of support for industry standard color management--a complaint that has just been answered.
As with Corel's WordPerfect Office 2000, the Bitstream FontTastic font manager is included. CorelTUTOR is present to aid users new to the software.