Corel goes Mac to the future in Draw 8
CorelDraw 8 suite (Mac)
Finally, Corel has given Maclovers reason to sit up and take notice - with the introduction of the CorelDraw 8 suite. Anybody who works in the graphics business and uses a Mac invariably ends up using Adobe Illustrator for this and Aldus FreeHand for that - Fractal Painter for this effect and Adobe PhotoShop for just being PhotoShop.
The CorelDraw 8 package comes with the best features from these programs plus a few of its own. It contains three applications: CorelDraw, PhotoPaint and CorelTrace and also includes 1,000 clipart images, 100 high-resolution pictures and 1,600 TrueType and PostScript fonts.
CorelDraw 8: The tools here are similar to those in most drawing programs, but with an interface that feels very PC-like to a Mac user. Corel has addressed PC-phobia by allowing CorelDraw to be customised, so that users who work in other graphics packages can make it behave in a familiar fashion. Another nice touch is that the distortion tool is not a one-way affair and any effect can be progressively undone by dragging the tool in the opposite direction. The default number of undos is 99, although Corel says 99,999 are supported.
CorelDraw can handle multiple pages and each page can be given a name instead of the traditional number. Files exported as encapsulated PostScript (EPS) can be opened in Illustrator or FreeHand with special effects converted to embedded bitmaps.
PhotoPaint 8: This is where Corel has created a real winner. The program is powerful and easy to use and there isn't much that PhotoShop can do that it cannot emulate. Again, Corel has included the best features of several similar programs. Zigzag, lens flare, unsharp mask and a wealth of other filters will be familiar to PhotoShop users. Brush tools are more easily managed than in PhotoShop or Painter and have greater latitude. CorelTrace 8: Like Adobe's Streamline, this converts bitmap images into vector line-drawings.
Basically, Corel has bundled three powerful graphics and painting programs in one value-for-money package. (Full price is almost £500, but upgrade pricing is considerably less.) The CorelDraw 8 suite recommends Macinstosh OS 8.1 or higher and needs a hefty RAM set-up - much more than the 32MB minimum specified - otherwise the programs will crawl. With the right Macintosh, however, this package is worth more than just a look.
Print Office, Corel (PC)
Falling prices and rising quality in scanners, printers and digital cameras have given many small businesses and home offices access to print technology which a short time ago was the preserve of professionals. Corel targets that market with its new Print Office software, which, it says, is for small businesses with modest finances and limited experience of desktop publishing. Print Office includes three applications: Print Office for desktop publishing, Photo House (a scaled-down version of the Photo Paint photo editing and image creation program), and Colleagues and Contacts, an organiser for managing addresses and appointments. Included are 25,000 clipart images, 300 fonts and 150 borders. Images can also be acquired directly from a digital camera or scanner. Photo House will handle common file formats and allows basic touch-ups, special effects or borders to be applied to images.
The experienced user may feel straitjacketed by the templates and prefabricated samples, but then Print Office is not intended for experts. It is, however, possible to dispense with the training wheels and to create original designs.
As in all publishing software, the creativity of the user and the quality of the final output device govern the results. Most modern colour printers will give credible results and are excellent for short runs. Longer runs are uneconomical and time-consuming - 500 colour copies on most desktop printers will take around an hour.
The instruction manual gives systematic guides to essential functions but is short on help for preparing jobs for outside commercial printing. One attractive feature is the price. At under £60, it is well within the range of most small/home offices. System requirements are equally modest: a 486 DX or compatible, 8MB of RAM, Windows 95, CD-Rom drive and a monitor which can show 800 x 600 pixels.
Windows 95 in a Nutshell, Troy Mott and Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly & Associates, Stg£14.95
You might wonder why O'Reilly & Associates would publish a book on Windows 95 at the dawn of the era of Windows 98, but perhaps the publisher realises that many of us will be staying with 95 for a while yet. After reading the book, (co-written by Tim O'Reilly himself, his first in years), this user is glad the company has done it and sorry that it wasn't done sooner.
This book is full of tips and insights into all aspects of Win95. These range from how to edit the Windows 95 Registry without the fear of trashing it, to recording and mixing sound files, to getting the best out of file transfer protocol (FTP) commands. There is also a helpful and pragmatic chapter on Dial-Up Networking, and one on creating batch files - those workhorses of DOS which can still be amazingly useful in Win 95.
There are a thousand and one useful instructions to allow a user to fully utilise Windows 95. Which Web pages has the computer been to this week? Open C:/windows/ history and click on the appropriate week. What version of Win 95 is on the machine? Find out here how to find out. There are also useful Web addresses for downloading all sorts of goodies.
I for one will be keeping this book close at hand, and will probably put off changing to Windows 98 for some time, although much of the information will also apply to Win 98.