CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4

August 6, 2008

CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4, the latest update to the stalwart illustration and image-editing package, focuses on improving productivity, adding a handful of useful new tools and enhancing many of the existing features. Although the changes aren’t revolutionary, they do let you work smarter and more effectively—both alone and with a contingent of colleagues. As always, Corel delivers a top-notch suite that, at $429 (or $199 for the upgrade), costs hundreds less than its Adobe rival.

Like Adobe did with Photoshop CS3, Corel has acknowledged the importance of collaboration in this latest edition of its graphics-editing package. CorelDraw’s Web-based ConceptShare lets participants share designs and concepts in real time. The free account offers two workspaces (5MB total) that can be shared among an unlimited number of users. The fee-based services vary, depending on your requirements. ConceptShare differs from WebEx and similar collaboration apps in that users do not have to be online simultaneously. The ability to log on anytime makes ConceptShare especially convenient for project members residing in different time zones.

Using ConceptShare is easy. Log on with a Web browser, create or open a workspace, and upload images, CorelDraw files, PDFs, or videos. You can set certain permissions for those you allow into the workspace; you can even print a history of the workspace and request approvals via the Approval Manager. It’s a neat, clever application and takes about five minutes to master.

CorelDraw X4 greets you with a prettier face—the user interface has been modernized with colorful buttons and streamlined to provide a more efficient workspace. The templates, which also have been redesigned, are accompanied by Designer Notes to help customize templates and produce flawless results. Perhaps the most important enhancement, though, is the ability to view independent page layers. In earlier versions of CorelDraw, additional layers appeared on every page in the document. In CorelDraw X4, on the other hand, each page can have its own set of layers. This feature makes the composition process much less confusing, especially when you’re working with highly complex documents.

A few of the new features make document composition more efficient. For example, live text formatting lets you preview changes before you actually apply them, eliminating tedious undoing/redoing. The new interactive Table tool easily builds and imports tables into a document. The tool also converts tab-delimited text into a table (and vice versa), and makes adding images to table cells particularly easy. If you want to manage projects such as address labels or cards using a mailing list, you can quickly do so in CorelDraw X4, thanks to the new Print Merge wizard. CorelDraw X4 also provides support for language-specific punctuation.

The built-in font-identification service is a weird and wonderful addition to the software. You can draw a selection box around some text and click WhatTheFont in the Text menu. Your selection is sent to the Web-based service, which examines the screen capture and presents you with the closest font matches. In our informal test, WhatTheFont recognized the common font Arial, but missed the lesser-known Sans Mono Condensed. The feature is not perfect, but it might come in handy if you have clients who submit documents containing unusual fonts.

Photo-Paint, the suite’s image editor, also has been tweaked and enhanced. You’ll find raw image file, or RAW, support for more than 300 different cameras, a terrific image-straightening tool, real-time histogram feedback, and improved tone-curve adjustments.

Corel has been known for its programs’ ability to import a wide range of file formats. The company maintains its reputation by adding to CorelDraw X4 support for Microsoft Publisher 2007 and Visual Basic 6.4; AutoCAD DWG and DXF 2007; Corel Painter X; and Adobe’s Photoshop CS3, PDF 1.7, PDF/A, and Acrobat 8 (including the ability to import comments). In addition, you’ll find Windows Vista integration, Windows Color System support (to match colors between Corel and Microsoft applications), and Adobe Color Management Module (to match colors between Corel and Adobe applications).

As always, CorelDraw ships with a number of additional tools, including a font manager, a bar-code utility, and huge collections of clip art, photos, and fonts (many of them new or updated). The box also contains a handsome "Insights from the Experts" booklet and training videos, plus built-in access to online tutorials and the Corel User Community Web site

Direct Price: $429 (full version); $199 (upgrade)

Corel, 877-662-6735

Powered by Computer 2000


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: