Corel? Never Heard of it. What’s Corel?


Many many years ago, when Microsoft Windows was very young and known as Windows 386—because it ran on computers using Intel 80386 CPUs—I came across a product called CorelDRAW. From memory it was originally written as CorelDRAW! … with the “draw” part in italics complete with the exclamation mark; or “shriek” as Americans tend to refer to an exclamation mark. At the time I discovered it CorelDRAW! was at version 3, which, according to Wikipedia, was released in 1992.

CorelDrawI originally came across CorelDRAW! at my work but I was so impressed with it that when it got to v5 around 1994 I bought my own copy even though it was very expensive. As I recall, even back them in 1994, it was something like $600 for a full copy. But you sort of got your money’s worth, compared to modern software packages. It came with a training video tape of about two hours (which I worked through step-by-step), at least four manuals, a separate CD set containing something like 200,000 clip art samples created using Corel, about 150 foundry quality licensed fonts for Windows, and an electronic colour calibrator do-dat that you could use to check that your (CRT) screen was set up for ‘correct colour’ (which I still have today).

Incidentally, checking out the Corel Web site (here) it seems that they no longer write it with the word “draw” in italics or with an exclamation mark.

CorelDRAW, as they write it now, is currently up to version 15, or X5 as they prefer to write it.

CorelDraw3So what is CorelDRAW? It is basically an amazingly powerful yet easy to use vector image manipulation program that happens to incorporate page layout capabilities and comes bundled with a fairly useful raster image editor called CorelPhoto-Paint. But the key take-away here is that CorelDRAW is a vector image editor.

The likeness of the actress Hedy Lamarr shown at right, used by Corel as part of their 1998 v8 release, is 100 percent drawn using CorelDRAW. It is all done in vectors.

Vector imaging has come a long was since 1998 but back in 1998 this was pretty amazing stuff.

CorelDraw5At right is the picture of Hedy that was used as the ‘model’ for the vector drawing above. For anyone who understands the complexities of drawing with vectors I am sure they will appreciate the awesomeness of this.

Apart from being a full strength vector image editor CorelDRAW has a lot of other tricks in the box. It can open and edit just about any vector or pseudo-vector image format file known, including a PDF file. It incorporates components of the Xerox Ventura page layout package which Corel purchased from Xerox back around 1998. It can auto-magically convert any well defined 16 tone raster image into a vector image (using CorelTRACE) and it does this very well. It incorporates very precise panel-printing which allows, for example, an A0 sized ‘page’ to be printed using A4 panels. And much, much, more.

So where am I going with all this? Well I thought then, and still think today, that CorelDRAW is a fun and exciting program that has incredible capabilities. However it is amazing how few people know about it. Or if they have heard of it they have very little understanding of what it does. And Corel Corporation (who are based in Canada) don’t do a very good job of advertising CorelDRAW, or any of their products for that matter. I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing any advertising for CorelDRAW. At a recent lunch time conversation at my work, and I work in IT, none of the five other people there knew of CorelDRAW.

CorelDraw6I thought this was a kind of sad so I decided to do my tiny little bit in making CorelDRAW slightly better known. While the full product license is still expensive at around $850 you can buy the Home and Student license, which gets you the entire fully featured product with no technical restrictions, for about $160 (at Harris Technology, here). Basically the only rule is that you cannot use it commercially (i.e., you cannot use it in business or for the purposes of making money).

Well, hopefully, now about 30 or 40 people who might not have known what CorelDRAW was before do know what it is now.