:: news + energy + technology
  The Tuesday Letter
Submit Articles
Product Reviews
Monthly Edition
Energy Archive


Richard Price

Just when you were beginning to think Corel had everything covered with their CorelDraw suite of programs they manage to surprise you by pulling a really interesting program out of their hat.

CorelXara is an amazing graphics package that manages to combine vector and bitmap graphics in one very easy to use program. Anyone familiar with CorelDraw, or any Windows based software for that matter would feel quite at ease with the CorelXara interface. It is very powerful, fast, intuitive program that should be useful to the less experienced, casual artist as well as the more professional user.

It is also a product that should work well, not only with CorelDraw, but complement any other Windows based graphics software that you may be using.

This program was not developed by Corel. It was previously known as Xara Studio and was developed by Xara Ltd., a company that has been developing application software for 15 years. Corel now has an exclusive licensing deal with Xara Limited, who will still continue to develop the program.

I have found it very useful for creating graphics for on-screen presentations and web pages. Anti-aliasing in CorelXara produces smooth, high quality, on-screen images which can be saved as JPEG, GIF, interlaced GIF and Transparent GIF formats which are ideal for Internet graphics.

There are a number of interesting features in this product worth mentioning. Not least of which is the fact that Corel have not limited this product to Windows 95 users. CorelXara is a 32-bit application that will run under Windows 3.x, Windows NT and Windows 95. It is also available as a stand alone product and not packaged with the CorelDraw suite of programs.

CorelXara appears to be a very precise graphics program, working to an internal accuracy of 72,000 dpi with magnification of up to 25,000%. Being able to zoom in to 250 times the original size gives you the ability to put the most intricate detail in your illustrations.

The undo feature is limited only by the memory of your PC. This really means an almost limitless undo option. It also means you now have the freedom to experiment with as many different effects as you like and then just keep clicking the undo button until you get back to your original image.

The program comes with 500 fonts and support for TrueType and Adobe Type 1 fonts. Although if you already have CorelDraw 5 or 6 you probably have all the fonts anyway. Unfortunately though I found the text handling capabilities of the program a bit weak. Although it is possible to do all sorts of fancy stuff with headings, you are rather limited when it comes to paragraph text. You can import text from other programs but you loose the formatting and, strange as it may seem, the tab key does not work when entering text.

The colours, clipart, fonts, textures and line styles all work on a drag and drop bases. To change a colour just select it from the colour line then drag and drop it onto the object you wish to colour.

Colours can also be linked to a 'parent' colour. Change the parent colour and all the associated colours change as well. This makes changing the colour of a complicated graphic as easy as clicking the mouse.

Highlighting, shading and shadows are easy to create with the transparency feature. By clicking and dragging you can apply a transparency effect to any bitmap or vector image. These transparency effects can also be graduated. All Graduated fills are dithered smoothly resulting in photo-realistic images.

Corel claim that screen redraws are more than 10 times faster than other drawing programs. Although I have not tested this myself. I was surprised at the speed of the program. I was also impressed by the small amount of space the program takes up on my hard drive.

As expected with a Corel product it comes with a bundle of clipart, textures and photo images. To access these the CD-ROM disk must be in the drive. On line help is comprehensive and the on-screen demonstrations are informative, especially if you have a sound card and speakers.

Installation is simple. The program is only available on CD-ROM. Minimum requirements are a 486 processor, 8 MB RAM, 8 MB hard disk space, Windows 3.x, Windows NT or Windows 95, a CD-ROM and a VGA display. CorelXara has a suggested retail price of AU$359.00 and should be available now.




The Tuesday Letter