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Review: CorelDraw X6

CorelDraw

This is of course the main app in the suite, and the reason that most will buy or upgrade. The new version is supplied in both 32 and 64 bit versions, with Corel citing that it also takes advantage of multi core processors. I can't say that I noticed much in the way of performance improvements, and that was on an i7 with 6GB RAM but it was by no means sluggish. Quite often a software upgrade often requires a hardware upgrade just to perform at the same speed, so this is welcome nonetheless.

One of the most useful tweaks is the PowerClip command. It's now much easier to create PowerClip object and, once created you can simply drag another object over it to insert. It also - finally - auto centres the object within the PowerClip, which may sound like a minor point but when creating multiple clips it really does speed things up.

corel-vector-shaping-tool

CorelDraw X6 sports some new shape tools that beef up its vector credentials. Smear, twirl, attract, repel as the names suggest allow you to reshape a vector image just by dragging the mouse across it. They do add to the already impressive arsenal of vector manipulation tools that Corel provides, but you have to be using Corel for this type of work often for these really to be much of a bonus.

corel-baseline-gridOne great new addition is the baseline tool. This allows you to set a standard baseline font and size. Corel will then draw faint lines down the page. When you align a paragraph box to the baseline text will automatically snap to it when you move the box, thus ensuring that all text instances line up even after minor tweaks at the end of the design process. I can see this being one of the features that most designers will enable at the start of each document, so a big thumbs up for this new toy.

A lot of work has been done on OpenType font support. As they are Unicode based this makes Corel suitable for producing documents destineds for several platforms. The new interactive frames also allow you to quickly create mockups, such as text boxes prefilled with 'Lorum Ipsum' text, which is useful when you just want to throw something together quickly.

There are a whole raft of minor changes throughout the software - the object properties docker has had a makeover, new style engine and docker, colour styles and harmonies, support for Adobe and Microsoft formats has been beefed up (with Corel citing in their press conference that they'll support Adobe CS6 when released, as CorelDraw X6 was released earlier than CS6), support for both 32 and 64 bit Adobe PhotoShop plugins, page numbering (how did they miss that for 15 versions?) and master templates for odd,even and both page layouts.

Even as someone that has used CorelDraw across several versions I felt at home with this new release, with many new features feeling natural to use. For me the baseline alignment and PowerClip tools are the two that I can see saving time for a lot of people, but I think the object properties docker deserves an honorary mention also. The shape tools are niceties, but probably of limited use to many.