Mon, 15 Aug 1994

CorelDRAW! 5.0: Powerful but more demanding

By Zatni Arbi

JAKARTA (JP): Although typically there's a lot that one can do in a year's time, it might not be the case when it comes to improving an already superb software program. Often, the improvements come only in the form of adoption of features offered by competitors' products or minimal enhancement of one's own.

However, CorelDRAW! 5.0 is different. In their effort to keep up the one-year upgrade tradition, the people at Corel System, Ontario, Canada, have managed to give what Version 5.0 needs to deserve the name of a new version.

Most notable are perhaps the inclusion of new special-effect tools, such as the lens, trim and intersection. We shall talk about them in more detail later. A totally new addition to the set in CorelDRAW! 5.0 is CorelQUERY, a program that allows you to create publication-quality reports based on your existing database.


CorelDRAW! 5.0 comes in two CDs or sixteen 3.5" diskettes. Surprisingly, installing everything on the diskettes did not take as much time as Version 4.0 did.

It took me one hour to complete a full installation on my aging 386 machine. In comparison, it took me more than two hours to install the twelve 3.5" diskettes of Version 4.0. Full installation requires a 50 MB space on the hard disk.

As usual, we can select only the programs that we use to be installed. Strangely, installing CorelDRAW! 5.0 does not automatically overwrite CorelDRAW! 4.0, but you cannot call up CorelDRAW! 4.0 if CorelDRAW! 5.0 is already running.

While installation takes a shorter time, loading seems to take longer -- markedly longer than Version 4.0. This seems to be the reason why Corel states the minimum system requirements to be a 386 machine with 8 MB of RAM.

Its recommendation is a 486-based machine with a math co- processor and 16 MB of RAM. As I'm using the minimum that Version 5.0 can run on, the creation of the texture fill preview samples unsurprisingly takes a long time.


Once loaded, a couple of enhancements will catch your eyes. First of all, as the default setting, the status bar is now located at the bottom. For shortsighted people like myself, this is a better arrangement since my eyes are mostly focused on the lower part of the monitor anyway.

If you prefer, you can reposition the status bar on top as in Version 4.0.

On top of the workspace we now have the button bar. Most of the icons look familiar as they resemble Microsoft's toolbars closely, and they automate tasks such as opening a file, print ing, and opening the Symbols Roll-up.

Like Winword 6.0, Lotus Organizer, and many other up-to-date programs, a yellow balloon that tells you what the function of each icon in CorelDRAW! 5.0 will also pop up after you place your pointer over it.

Unfortunately, most of the time the cursor pointer itself covers part of the balloon and that makes reading the text inside it difficult. Hopefully Corel fixes this quickly in its interim release.

CorelDRAW! following the trends of Microsoft's product is also obvious in the use of tabbed pages for various dialog boxes, such as the Preferences and Print dialog boxes. Furthermore, despite the many additional tools that it has, the workspace is as clean as it is in Version 3.0 and 4.0.

There are also other subtle changes in the menu structure as well. Instead of Display in Version 4.0, we now have the View menu item. The Help menu item does not stand by itself on the far right end anymore.

All these make CorelDRAW! more consistent to other Windows programs. The addition of two Mosaic Roll-ups adds to twenty Roll-ups altogether. You can see one of these Mosaic Roll-ups on the bottom left of the screen in the illustration.

New tools

The lens can be applied to any object with a closed path, and whatever object underneath it will be displayed as if the object were a real lens with a special effect.

In the accompanying illustration, I applied the Inverse lens tool to the text THE JAKARTA POST, and the colors of the red apple that is visible through the characters are changed into the their respective complementary colors based on the CMYK color wheel: Red becomes cyan, green magenta and yellow blue.

Invert is just one of the eight types of lenses that you can apply. The others are Magnify, Brighten, Color Limit (that filters out all colors under the lens except the ones you specify), Transparency, Color Add, Tinted Grayscale, and Heatmap.

Another useful new feature is the Intersect command. Applying Intersect after you've selected a number of overlapping objects will leave an object covering the area common to all of them.

Other improvements

As many as 60 more Fractal texture fills are included in the new version, and by changing the texture styles you can have millions of fill types. CorelDRAW! 5.0 also provides OLE 2.0 support for easy integration with other programs.

It also comes with supports for more types of scanners. I can now use my three-year old HP ScanJet IIC with a driver supplied by Z-Soft and included in CorelPHOTO-PAINT!.

Next week, we'll have a closer look at CorelPHOTO-PAINT and see what tools are available there and what we can achieve with those tools.

CorelPHOTO-PAINT! also supports popular plug-ins for other leading image manipulation programs, including the ones for Adobe PhotoShop. This allows you to use, for instance, filters from Kai Software for image manipulating.

As I reported some time ago, Brad Young, Corel System's Sales Manager for Asia, said that Corel might be marketing CorelPHOTO- PAINT as an individual product. I really welcome this idea in view of the component software trend that we've been watching lately.

If Corel can offer us an option to buy only whatever program we need, in addition to offering its one-stop graphics solution, so much the better. To be honest, I can live without CorelMOVE!, CorelSHOW!, CorelCHART! and CorelQUERY.

But I know I cannot live without CorelDRAW! -- at least for now. However, the US$ 895.00 is still too much for my purse -- especially when it brings me much more than I actually need.

All said, the verdict is clear: If you work a lot on graphics illustration, you should grab the new version. Version 3.0 and 4.0 will continue to be offered. But, once you've tried out this version on the right machine, it will be hard to go back to the earlier versions -- unless, like me, you're still using a 386.

Secret screens

Incidentally, if you like playing around with software and you'd also like to read the names of those who have toiled to bring this great product to us, here's what you can try: Click on the Help menu item, and click on About CorelDRAW!. A dialog box will appear.

Find the famous CorelDRAW! balloon, and double-click on it. Or, you can also double-click on the colorful icon on the right to the same effect. Now, sit back and just watch your screen.