CorelDRAW X7 Review: Part 1

Copyright © 2014 by Davis Multimedia, Int'l. All Rights Reserved.
As Printed in December 2014, Volume 40, No. 6 of The Engravers Journal
Figure !: The font display window in previous versions of CorelDRAW.

Figure 2: In this example, I have created four lines of the same text and assigned a different font to each of the lines.


   Well, true to form, Corel Corporation has come through with a new version of its CorelDRAW suite of applications. I must admit, seeing version 17 makes me feel rather old as I have been using Corel since the version 3 days.
   The question when any upgrade comes out is, “Should I upgrade? My existing version is working just fine. Why do I need to upgrade?” Well, here are a few reasons why:
   1) Import Filters—One task I use CorelDRAW a lot for is to import files that I receive from customers. I remember years ago buying a program that would do this for me. However, I soon found out that CorelDRAW is just as good at importing files as that third-party program and CorelDRAW did not cost me anything extra since I already had the software. The problem everyone faces in the software world is that all of the other software companies are continuously upgrading their programs as well. This means that a CorelDRAW import filter may work for software version X, but it might
not work for a new version of that same software. Thus, if you are using an older version of CorelDRAW, it may not be able to open a file created in a newer version of the software. File formats in programs such as AutoCAD or Adobe Reader are frequently changed, which means that often the old Corel import filters cannot process these newer file formats. There is nothing worse than receiving a file from a customer and importing it into CorelDRAW, only to find out that you can’t open it—and typically this happens at 9 p.m. the night before the job is due. It is important for me to always have the latest version of CorelDRAW so I have the greatest chance of successfully importing and opening a file from another program. Note: Another thing to remember is that certain features in a file may be new to the program they are created in, so even if you can import that file into CorelDRAW with an old filter, these new features may not be imported with it. There is nothing worse than completing a job only to discover you are missing certain parts of the file which weren’t engraved.
   2) New Features—Corel does not necessarily see our industry as an important market so software features written specially for us are few and far between. However, a number of updates to the software have actually made our setup times easier and more efficient, which allows us to complete jobs faster. Features like Corel PowerTRACE, Print Merge and Rounded Corners are three useful features that quickly come to mind. The problem is that we have to know that these new features exist and then we have to locate them in the software. That is what I will do with this multi-part review.


Figure 3: The Font Playground docker.

Figure 4: To change the font, first select a line of text.

Figure 5: The black arrow on the bottom of the selected text indicates that this font has OpenType features.

   3) A Healthy Corel is Good—This one always raises a few eyebrows when I say it because what I am advocating here is the idea that we should be upgrading because the money Corel makes on upgrades helps the company prosper. A healthy Corel will continue to create new features to add to an already full-featured program. We all make money off Corel-DRAW. Whether we are producing goods, selling machines or training people, we all derive our living from the program. In today’s day and age, software upgrades are a way that a company can continue to make money down the road. If Corel went out of business tomorrow, that would be a sad state for all of us!
   4) You Look Like You Know What You’re Doing—It’s ironic that as I was writing this article I received an email from a customer asking me if I could resave the Corel Version 11 file I made for him and send it to him in version 10. I did not mind doing this, but I was thinking that here is someone trying to run a business and the software he is basing that business on is over 10 years old. Also, I am thinking to myself does he really know what he is doing? Can you imagine if I were a customer sending him a file to reproduce? I would not have a lot of confidence in the file being reproduced properly knowing he was using such an old version.
   I always try to encourage people to upgrade to a new version of Corel-DRAW for these four important reasons. Now here’s a look at some of the useful features you will find in the new CorelDRAW X7.
What is included in the new version?
The main programs included in the suite:
1. CorelDRAW X7—graphics program
2. Corel PHOTO-PAINT X7—bitmap editing program
3. Corel PowerTRACE—bitmap to vector conversion
Supporting programs included in the suite:
1. Bitstream Font Navigator—font categorizing and font installer
2. Barcode Wizard—wizard to create bar codes
3. PhotoZoom Pro 3—special digital image resampling wizard
4. WhatTheFont—online font identification service
Content included in the suite:
1. 10,000 high-quality clip art images
2. 2,000 photos
3. 600+ professionally designed templates
4. 1,200+ Objects
5. 1,000+ fonts
Training included:
1. 5 hours of training videos
2. Updated “Insight from the Experts”
Minimum system requirements:
1. Windows 8/8.1 or 7 (32 bit or 64 bit) with the latest service packs
2. Internet Explorer or equivalent
How much does the upgrade cost?
   Ok, now for the question that everyone asks, “How much does the upgrade cost?” For those users who are using any version from X4 to X6, your upgrade cost is going to be $199 U.S. If you have a version that is older than X4, you will be required to purchase the full version for $499 U.S. Pricing will vary a little if you are outside North America (check Corel’s website).


Figure 6: Here are the OpenType text options available for the "X7" text.

Figure 7: In this example, the "X7" text has been changed to "X7"


   In addition to purchasing the full or upgrade version, Corel also offers a subscription service. With the subscription version you do not own the software, you are only renting it. You can pay either a yearly rate or a monthly rate to rent the software. If you use the subscription model you need to remember a couple of things. One is that once you stop paying for the software, you no longer have access to the full version of the software. In addition, a subscription model requires that you have Internet access and be logged into your CorelDRAW account. If you are not logged in you will not be able to use CorelDRAW.
   As of version X6.1, you also have the option of a standard membership, which is free, or you can take advantage of Corel’s Premium Membership for a yearly fee of $99 U.S. The Premium membership provides you with automatic upgrades to the latest version of CorelDRAW and access to the extras that are provided with the membership, such as premium content in the cloud.
   As I and many others have remarked, Corel has recently decided to be more focused on policing the number of times you can install the program. Your license allows you to install the software on three different computers, but you can only have one active working computer running CorelDRAW at a time. So if you want to use a second computer, you will need to log off the first and then log on to the second computer. Gone are the days of being able to load the program as many times as you want.
   Ok, now that we have some basic information about the software and what is included in the suite, let’s take a look at some of the more important features found in the new program. I am going to discuss the features one by one and not necessarily in what I feel are the most important to the least important features. It will be up to you to decide what is important for your applications.
Font Playground
   One of the so-called cardinal sins that you can commit in the personalization industry is to offer your customer too many font choices. If you have been in business long enough, you can probably tell a few stories of those customers who have come into your shop and spent 10 minutes ordering a plaque and 50 minutes selecting the font.
   When it comes to designing a layout, one of your most important assets are the fonts that are installed on your computer. Being able to choose an appropriate font can make or break your design. In previous versions of Corel-DRAW, you could view the font beingused by first selecting the text in the layout and then clicking on the font list, which brings up a drop-down menu as shown in Figure 1. Each of the fonts in the drop down menu are shown in that particular font style. To see how the message will look in a different font, you can hover the mouse over a font in the list. When you do this, you will notice that the line of text that you had selected in the layout has changed to that font. For example, in Figure 1, the text “Corel X7 Review” has been changed to Century751 BT (Normal).

Figure 8: The Substitute Missing Fonts dialog box displays when a font is missing from your system.
 

   Although a handy feature, the problem with this setup is that you can only see one font at a time. If you were trying to compare different fonts on the same text, you would have to copy the text a number of times in the layout. For example, let us assume that you are creating a layout and you want to see which of four different fonts looks the best. If you use the X6 or earlier method, you would have to create four copies of the same text line and then change the font for each individual line. Figure 2 illustrates this. You could then view the text in each font and compare them.
   To try and make this easier, Corel has introduced the Font Playground docker. This docker allows you to view text in a number of different fonts at one time. To open the Font Playground docker, click on TEXT 1 FONT PLAYGROUND. Figure 3 shows the docker opened in Corel- DRAW.
   Let’s take a closer look at the Font Playground. When you open the docker, three lines of default text appear which you can easily change to the text you will be using in your layout. Just like standard text editing, simply double click on the first line of default text. Press the “Ctrl” key and the “A” key at the same time to select the entire line of default text and then start typing the text that you want to display. In this example, I have used the wording “Corel X7 Review” as shown in Figure 3. If you want to increase the size of the text, you can adjust the slider in the toolbar, which is denoted by (1) in Figure 3.
   To change the font for one of the text lines, click on that text. The light blue outline around the text box in Figure 4 shows that the text has been selected. Now you can change the font for that line by clicking on the dropdown menu at the top of the docker (Fig. 3). In this case I have selected Gabriola. The font that is assigned to each line of text is displayed below the text in a light gray color. You can add additional lines of text to the display by clicking on “Add another sample” (Fig. 3) and change the font as desired. In Figure 4 you can see that I have select Tahoma Normal for the second line of text.

Figure 9: To embed fonts in a file, check the Embed fonts box in the Save dialog.

Figure 10: This flyout menu appears when you access the Customize button on the bottom of the toolbar.

Figure 11: All eight commands are available in the Shape Edit flyout menu.


   Using the Font Playground docker, you can also select and apply Open-Type features of certain fonts which let you choose alternative appearances for characters, such as fractions, ornaments, small caps, etc. For instance, in the example text we are using you can change the “X7” to “X7” as long as the font you are using is an OpenType font and it supports that feature.
   To do this, highlight a letter or letters from the text in the Font Playground docker. If the font has OpenType features, a black arrow will appear at the bottom of the selection as shown in Figure 5, which is called an OpenType feature indicator. This indicator allows you to change a selected letter(s) to a variation of that letter within the font. If you click on the black arrow below the blue selection box, a drop-down menu will be displayed that shows the various letter styles for the selected text. Figure 6 shows the text variations that are available for the selected “X7” text. Once you select the desired font variation, the docker previews that selection. Figure 7 shows that “X7” has been changed to “X7.”
Font Embedding
   One of the features that has been around for a while in CorelDRAW is the ability to embed font information in a job file. The problem is, it never really worked. Personally this is a feature that I have wanted for a long time and the new version appears to have corrected the problems it had in the past.
   The ability to embed font information in a file allows you to add text or spell check documents that you receive (or give to others) without actually having to have the font on your computer. No longer will you need to convert the text to curves so that the fonts look the same on someone else’s computer that does not have the font installed. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a file from a customer that requires you to install additional fonts.
   If you’re not familiar with what I am talking about here, let me quickly explain the concept. When you create text in CorelDRAW, Corel is accessing the fonts that are resident in Windows and installed on your system. Anytime you open the program, it accesses all the fonts that are installed in the Windows Font Directory. If you open a file that references a font that is not on your system, Windows will let Corel know that the font is not there and asks us what needs to be done. You are then presented with a dialog box that asks you what you want to do. By default, CorelDRAW will suggest a substitute font. You have no doubt seen the font substitution dialog box that pops up when you do not have the resident font installed on your computer (Fig. 8). You then have the option of using the suggested font or changing it to a different font and selecting whether it is to be a permanent substitution or temporary for use with just that file.
   It is important to note that not all fonts can be embedded into Corel-DRAW job files, so be forewarned that you may still have some issues. I have tested a number of fonts by saving them and then removing the font. In the testing I have done with older versions of Corel, I did have issues retrieving the fonts, but if I went from X7 to X7, the font embedding worked fine.
   You can embed fonts in a file when you save the job. All you need to do is to check the “Embed fonts” box that is located in the Save dialog box (Fig. 9).
Customizing the Corel Interface
   The toolbox, property bar and docker space are now fully customizable to allow you to organize the tools and features that you use most. Corel has added easy customization buttons which allow you to create a workspace that is suited to your own personal workflow.

Figure 12: All eight commands have a checkmark which mens they are all available.

Figure 13: Here I have unchecked the "Smear" command.

Figure 14: The "Smear" tool has been removed from the toolbar.

   It is easy to customize your workspace. When you look at the toolbox on the left side of the workspace, you will see a “+” symbol located in the lower left corner of the toolbox, which is the Quick Customize feature. When you click on it, the flyout menu shown in Figure 10 appears which is where you can customize your toolbar.
   Let’s test this out. Figure 11 shows the normal flyout menu that appears when you click on the Shape tool. Notice that there are eight commands in this flyout. Now if you click on the “+” symbol shown in Figure 10, the customize flyout menu appears. Navigate to the Shape Edit section as shown in Figure 12 and you will see that each one of the commands in the flyout have a checkmark beside them. The checkmark indicates which commands are available and which ones are not. Because there are eight check marked commands, each one of these will show up in the toolbox shown in Figure 11. If you want to remove one of these commands, you can do so by simply unchecking the appropriate check box.
   So let’s assume I want to remove some of the commands I do not use. To remove a command from a flyout, just uncheck the box next to that command. Figure 13 shows that I have unchecked the “Smear” command. Now when you select the regular Shape Edit flyout from the toolbar, you will see that the “Smear” tool has been removed (Fig. 14).
   The new Customize tool is a nice add-on because it allows you to remove those tools that you don’t use on a frequent basis. This is a nice feature because it will also make your workspace cleaner and simpler. It’s also good for those who want to limit employee access to tools that are not essential to their standard duties in CorelDRAW.
   Well, that is all the room we have for this month’s article. In this article I have started to show you the new features that I feel will help you in your choice to upgrade to X7. It will take a couple of issues to get through these new features. I know once we get all the way through, you will realize that upgrading to the new version will speed up the work flow in your business. Until next month, keep practicing


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