Two important desktop advances. (Ami Pro 3.0 and CorelDRAW! 3.0 desktop publishing software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Robert Bixby
The pace of advance in computer software quickens all the time. Once you could count on a piece of software's remaining current for 18 months to two years with minor updates to add a feature, clean up a bug, and so forth. But lately, less than a year goes by between major upgrades of some software. You can thank the intense competition for market share, the advances in programming and hardware that make more features possible, and the conventional wisdom that anything new is better than anything old.
Two new products are now out for desktop publishing--Ami Pro 3.0 and CorelDRAW! 3.0. Since I've had the privilege of working with the betas and writing about each of these products, I'd like to introduce some of their most important improvements to you.
Ami Pro has added a slew of new macros, a grammar checker, drag-and-drop editing, newly designed icons, and dozens of smaller convenience features. For example, the SmartIcon option is much more logical than in the previous version and even includes a tiny paint program so you can edit your icons and create new ones.
You can view files without opening them, making it easier to locate the specific file you want to work on.
The Ami Pro File menu will show the last four files accessed so you can load them instantly by clicking on their names in the File menu. It now prints envelopes with a special menu option.
A Clean Screen option eliminates all the distracting little Windows doodads like menu bars and scroll bars, allowing you to work with Ami Pro more as you would work with a traditional DOS word processor while retaining the advantages of WYSIWYG. Don't worry, though, the menus are an Altkey combination away. Most touch-typists hate accessing menus via the mouse, anyway. If you want to retain some part of the Windows display during Clean Screen, Lotus has allowed for that, too.
The right mouse button has been provided with new powers. Right-clicking on a paragraph will call up the Modify Style dialog box, and right-clicking on a frame will call up the Modify Frame dialog box. Ami Pro 3.0 is full of little improvements that make writing even more effortless while making Ami Pro even more powerful than last year's winner of the COMPUTE Choice award for best word-processing program: Ami Pro 2.0.
CorelDRAW! is the graphics success story of the Windows age. CorelDraw! 2.0 was a significant advance over 1.2 about a year ago. But CorelDRAW! 3.0 is literally in a league by itself. It's one of the best drawing programs available, with better text handling than before and a more standard drawing interface (no more side-by-side wireframe and preview--now there's only one window, in which you can elect to see wireframe or preview). Extrude has taken a quantum leap, allowing you to shade all sides of an extruded object and allowing for a positionable light source. The extruded object can be rotated in three dimensions. But there's even bigger news.
First, WFNBOSS is history. CorelDRAW! now works with TrueType fonts, eliminating the need for font conversion.
CorelPHOTO-PAINT! is a powerful paint program capable of performing darkroom-like magic on scanned gray-scale or color photographs. It includes image-editing features like contrast, edge sharpening, and posterizing. You can fill shapes with gradients and patterns, or clone images from one location to another.
If you're considering one of the powerful graphing and charting programs for business use, consider CorelDRAW!. It now comes with CorelCHART! to generate bar, pie, and area charts; histograms; scattergrams; and many other kinds of charts, including several kinds of shaded 3-D graphs.
Once you have your charts created, you might want to put them into a presentation. If so, Corel has provided CorelSHOW!, an extremely simple presentation program that makes displaying your charts and CorelDRAW! drawings a snap. It's the easiest presentation package I've seen yet. And not only will it show drawings from its sister applications, but it has a special button that allows you to import documents, graphics, animation, or sounds from other Windows applications.