Wednesday, July 31, 2019

CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2019 Review

Since I'm originally from Ottawa, I've always used CorelDRAW for vector graphics. This actually works out well. Since I'm not an artist or designer, I rarely need to do any vector graphics work, so CorelDRAW has worked for me because it comes with a lot of functionality, I could make a one-time purchase of a perpetual license to the software, and I was occasionally able to get good deals when buying it.

I previously used CorelDraw X5, and it did what I needed it to do, but the menus didn't work quite right on Windows 10, so I was looking to upgrade if the upgrade price ever dropped to around $100-$150 or so, but the price never dropped that low, so I just kept using my old version. Especially since I now make my own vector graphics package, I rarely needed CorelDraw except for some occasional obscure feature. Unfortunately, Corel declared that 2019 would be the last year they would offer upgrade pricing on CorelDraw, so I decided to pick up a copy of CorelDraw 2019 since it would be my last chance to get an upgrade.

I have to say that I feel a little disappointed with CorelDraw 2019. CorelDraw has always been a buggy piece of software. But usually it's the new features that are buggy, but if you stick with the core vector graphics stuff then it works fine. Usually, the new features would be so buggy that they would be unusable, but Corel wouldn't bother fixing it until a later version, so you would just have to pay for an upgrade to fix those bugs and get working versions of the new features. Unfortunately, it seems like they rewrote the core user interface code in this version, so now the core vector graphics functionality is buggy. I suspect it might be related to the fact that they've rewritten stuff so that it works on the Mac (previously, CorelDraw was Windows only). This is annoying to me because CorelDraw 2019 is too buggy for basic vector graphics work, but it likely won't be fixed unless I buy an upgrade to a later version, but Corel isn't going to be selling upgrades any more. I'm sorely tempted to keep using CorelDraw X5. The bugs are just little annoying little things like the screen blanking out if you scroll the window using the scrollbar, requiring you to press ctrl-W to manually refresh the screen. Groups also no longer snaps properly to grids. If you try to move a group, CorelDraw will choose one of the objects of the group (I think it's the top one?), and snap that to the grid instead of aligning the group as a whole. This makes grids sort of useless to me. CorelDraw also doesn't let you snap to grids and snap to objects at the same time. It gets confused and tries snapping to objects, and will completely ignore any possible grid snapping you can do. If basic functionality like scrolling and snap to grid don't work, then how is anyone supposed to get any productive vector graphics work done with CorelDraw?

On top of that, CorelDraw feels slow and sluggish. To be fair, CorelDraw has always felt slow and sluggish, but if you keep using an old version, then after a few years, your computer gets fast enough that it feels snappy and usable. Still, I was hoping that Corel would have left well enough alone, and stopped meddling with the old code so that it would stay fast. That's not the case. It feels sluggish. After all these years, Corel still has not learned that responsiveness is one of those magic unspoken features that make a graphics package feel good to use. Even though Corel Photo-Paint has many more features than my old copy of Photoshop Elements, I still use Photoshop Elements as my primary paint program because it's just so much faster and responsive. CorelDraw 2019 also just stops and hangs for a couple of seconds sometimes. I think it might be that the saving code is now very slow for some reason. Since CorelDraw autosaves fairly often (due to its buggy nature), I think CorelDraw will just occasionally become unresponsive as its incredibly slow autosave happens.

In the end, I feel like I've wasted my money. I bought CorelDraw 2019 because it was the last upgrade version they would offer. But CorelDraw 2019 is really buggy and not very usable. These bugs likely won't be fixed until a later version of Corel, which there won't be any upgrade pricing available for. Every time I use CorelDraw 2019, I keep wanting to go back to using my old version of CorelDraw X5 instead, which I sometimes do. I think the verdict is that if you are in a rush to upgrade CorelDraw because it's a last upgrade version available, DON'T get CorelDraw 2019 because it's too slow and buggy. If you can find an upgrade to an older version of CorelDraw, that might be a better choice to buy actually. Otherwise, just stick to your old version.