Corel Draw, stylized as "CorelDRAW," is a vector graphics editor developed by the Corel Corporation for Windows and written primarily in C++. It was originally designed as a simple graphics creator for a desktop publishing program sold by Corel and first released in January of 1989 for Windows 2, but it quickly became a full-fledged graphics editor. The program has received routine updates for the past 30 years making it one of the oldest and most sophisticated vector editors. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, it was the premier graphics editor for Windows, but it has since been overtaken by Adobe's Illustrator after the company branched out from Macintosh to Windows.
I first used Corel Draw on my uncle's computer in the early 1990s. He had acquired version 3 which could run on Windows 3 and included the early raster editor Corel Photo-Paint. I watched him use the program to create flyers for his church and occasionally used it myself. My friend Kevin had Corel Draw version 5, and we would often look through the clip art collection. At the time I didn't have much interest in graphic art, but I occasionally played with the programs. In high school, my computer teacher allowed me to buy a copy of version 7 at the school's discounted rate. This was the first version where I actually spent a lot of time playing with it, and I used it at my first software development job to make logos and various other graphics for the programs I developed. I later used versions 8, 10, 12, X3, X5, and X7. I generally skip a version or two before upgrading in order to make the new features worth my while, although I'm way behind the curve now. I still use the program frequently for graphic creation at work and home.
Over all, I find Corel Draw to be a very useful program, and, since I've grown up using it, I'm far more comfortable with it than any other vector art program. I admit that it is inferior to Illustrator, but I find Corel's interface to be more intuitive and their software model to be far less constrictive than Adobe, but it's still quite pricey. A decent free equivilant is Inkscape, but I find Inkscape's UI to be a total disaster.
I own an older version of Corel Draw and have been using it since the early 1990s.
- The program features a vast array of features and capabilities, so many, in fact, that I'm still discovering new ones after years of use. Some of the tools I find to be much easier to use than Illustrator.
- Each new version usually adds new features while improving existing ones.
- The program is more cost effective than other similarly-featured vector graphics programs.
- The program is highly configurable, even to the point of letting you reassign hotkeys and redraw toolbar icons.
- Because the program isn't as popular as Illustrator, there are far fewer online tutorials and books available for it, so you won't have as many sources to learn from.
- There are several quirks in the program that bother me, like the default zoom's strange function. Thankfully, most of these quirks can be fixed by adjusting the configuration. And, I still much prefer the mouse scroll-wheel zoom over Adobe's unnecessary Macintosh-based CTRL + scroll wheel zoom.
- For decades the program has shipped with a hideous and useless default palette, and you can't easily replace it with a useful one.
- The interface has adopted the poorly-thought-out Windows 10 scheme making it inferior to earlier versions.
- There is no simple way to convert color models for an entire image. For example, if an image is using CYMK, and you want to convert it to RGB, you have to go through a tedious find-and-replace wizard twice (once for fills, and again for outlines), and the results may still not be very good. You're usually better off doing it by hand.
- Even as late as version 17, there is still poor support for the Web standard SVG format (I use Inkscape to ensure proper handling of the format, and the Illustrator importer is only so-so.
- It's a quibble, but Corel switched version numbers to a hybrid number plus Roman numerals at version 13. This may have been done to be more stylish or possibly to avoid using a number they superstitiously think of as unlucky, either way, it's dumb.
- I have used several versions as far back as 3, and as new as X7, and every version has been prone to crashing unexpectedly when performing memory intensive commands. Corel implemented a backup system which attempts to recover some lost art after a crash, but, depending on how frequently it is set to run, still causes you to lose some of your work. While I'm all for having backups in the advent of a crash, you know what would be better than that? Not crashing in the first place!
- In the more recent versions, most of Corel's products, even after purchasing, have built-in advertising that can't be disabled. You will frequently see pop-ups and in-app advertisements. Some of these can be turned off, many of them cannot.