Ray Richards is founder of Mindspan Consultants and a technology journalist hailing from Ottawa, Canada

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Adobe Illustrator Versus Corel Draw - Part 2

If you recall, last month we initiated a head-to-head comparison of the two leading vector graphics applications Corel Draw 9 and Adobe Illustrator 8. So far the score is 4-0  in favour of Corel's product but as you'll see in this issue, this trend will not continue for long.

The Battle Continues...

As you may remember, we were creating the same brochure in each application and had just finished drawing a large circle in the centre of the page. The purpose of this was to create a path around which we could lay some text. I created the circle with little difficulty in each program but positioning it was more of a chore in Illustrator as you must click and drag on the 1 pixel wide stroke line to move an object which has no fill whereas in Draw, you can drag from anywhere within the bounds of the object. Now I'd start to lay down the text along this circular path. In Corel you simply select the object and go to the "Fit text to path" menu item under the "text" menu. After you are done inputting the text you may reselect the object and choose what text orientation (how the text follows the curve) and vertical placement (whether the text is above, below or on the path) from drop down menus at the top of the application window.

In Illustrator, it is even easier. You select the object that you want to use a path and then choose the "Path type tool" from the main toolbar which converts the object you have selected into a transparent path along which you simply type whatever it is you wish. There is also an additional path type tool within the same tool group which creates vertical text along whatever path you create... very handy. Score one slim one for Adobe. Next, I formatted the circular text. Again, Adobe's text font selection menu leaves a lot to be desired but for formatting text properties such as leading, tracking and kerning the character pallet is far more intuitive than Corel's methods for controlling these attributes. Score another for Adobe.

After accomplishing this task, I decided that I'd like to have two columns of text, one on either side of the circular text, each being justified to mirror the curvature of the central element. Both applications performed this task equally easily and while Corel provides an additional feature which enables the automatic creation of drop caps, I didn't find it very useful for real world projects. Score one each.

Next, I wanted to draw a small freehand representation of a computer which the text referred to. I found that Illustrator's brush tool was far better at rendering what I envisioned than Corel's as it responded to pressure variations received from my graphics tablet while the curves were being drawn, not merely rendering the effect afterwards. Additionally the paths automatically joined in an intuitive way when they intersected or neared each other within tolerances you define ... very helpful.

After I had completed the drawing, I wanted to put a red sphere behind it for impact. I found the Corel Draw method for creating the spherical gradient required to achieve the 3D look I was going for was by far easier and more intuitive than Illustrators. I had to fiddle with the object for about 10 minutes in Illustrator to get the desired effect, while in Draw, it took less than 1. Score another for Corel.

Next on my list was importing a bitmap for placement within the document. Both applications have the ability to link to an external file. This allows you to edit the object in the program originally used to create it and not have to re-import the object into Illustrator or Draw after you have made changes. While this was easily accomplished in both applications, the resulting display was inconsistent. Illustrator rendered the linked object as it truly appeared while Corel's version was badly aliased.

Of course I assume this was done to reduce the file size, but I like to look at pages in production as they actually are going to appear, and not have to fully embed all objects to do so. Additionally, when I changed the linked file and went back to the active documents in each application, Illustrator immediately informed me of the alteration and asked whether or not I'd like to update the linked object, while Draw failed to do so. Two points for Adobe.

Well, I was finally finished my document. Now all I had to do was publish it. Here Corel wins hands down over Adobe. Corel allows you to package the document including all fonts, associated links and even asks you if you'd like to generate a PDF file to enable your service bureau to proof the document. While Illustrator certainly can create PDF's as well, the rest of the job is up to you. Another feature that Illustrator lacks is the ability to publish directly to the Internet which is inherent in the Draw application. Another two points for Corel.

To Sum Up

While both applications certainly have their individual strengths, Corel Draw 9 came out on top with a score of  8 to Illustrator's 6. However, I wouldn't say that it's clearly a better program; artists will probably prefer Illustrator while business users will generally gravitate more towards Draw.  Either program represents an excellent investment in graphics software.

One Final Note

As we are indeed approaching tax time, I thought I'd mention a great program that will definitely assist the small business owner with the often tedious task of completing a return. The folks at Intuit drew my attention to their product which I wasn't aware even existed. QuickTax Incorporated Business is a fantastic tool to help you through the daunting prospect of completing your T2 and will even allow you to file your return over the Internet. What a relief!

Article originally published in HUB Magazine, April 2000, by technology columnist, Ray Richards.

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