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Sneak Preview: CorelDraw 9 for Linux - page 3

An Overview of CorelDraw 9 Beta 2

  • June 20, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

The other half of the CorelDraw suite is Corel Draw itself: a powerful and feature-packed vector graphics tool that brings Flash authoring to the Linux desktop, along with some other features design professionals will find some use for.

Vector graphics tools are critical to press-oriented publications. Unlike bitmap (or "raster") images, vector graphics are built for the precision print media tend to demand. Line art, extraneous design graphics, and body text for print copy all benefit from the scalability and accuracy vector graphics introduce to design work.

Corel Draw is a high quality entry in this area, bringing plenty to the table.

As with Photo-Paint, Corel Draw offers a solid collection of tools for creating and manipulating illustrations. Despite our own orientation to raster image tools, we had little trouble figuring out the basic elements of Corel Draw, and were actually able to apply some interesting special effects to our creations fairly quickly.

In some ways, as a matter of fact, our yen for working with bitmaps was answered by the fact that among the tools CorelDraw includes, there's one for converting graphical elements from vector to bitmap format. Once converted, an array of filters are available, much like with Photo-Paint, to introduce assorted distortions and enhancements to the element.

Corel Draw isn't about making pictures prettier, though, it's about producing ready-to-print material that includes a mix of illustrations and text. To that end, it includes some interoperability features that help it work with WordPerfect 9, such as preserving the formatting of text imported from WordPerfect right down to column layout. There is also a thesaurus and spell checker with the text tool, a boon to the copywriter who doesn't want to spend a creative session reaching for a book.

Because a lot of material is prepared for release both as paper copy and as web content, Corel's included a wizard that aids in the generation of CSS-oriented output. The option also exists to create PDF files for use with the popular Adobe Acrobat format.

In our opinion, the 800 pound gorilla of the suite, though, is the option to export work to Macromedia Flash (SWF) files. This is a one-way process, since Corel Draw can't import such files, but the ability to author Flash content is a powerful addition to the Linux productivity desktop, and one we suspect will lull quite a few businesses into considering Linux for their design bullpens.

Though time prohibited us from creating our very own Flash-animated masterpiece (or even, we'll admit, cool rollover effects), we were pleased to note that there are some authoritative articles on the Corel site for how to exploit this feature.

Concluding Notes on Corel Draw
As with Photo-Paint, we were impressed with the number of tools Corel Draw brings to bear to the task of creating illustrations. Corel has some experience in creating polished end-user applications, and it shows with this port.

Once again, we weren't without issues regarding the use of WINE and some of the pokiness this introduces to the overall experience. On the other hand, some speed issues were dealt with by the fact the product allows the user to change the level of detail viewed all the way from very simple wireframe representations to fully anti-aliased views, which sped things up in terms of moving elements around the page quite a bit.

The documentation was once again top notch, and the inclusion of links within the program to Corel's Web site, which features lots of articles, tutorials, and downloads made for a really pleasant learning experience.


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