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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saving CorelDRAW Files to Previous Versions May Introduce Problems

I heard from someone who was using two versions of CorelDRAW. On the laptop, CorelDRAW X6 was being used. The desktop computer had CorelDRAW X3. I'm not sure which one was used at home and which at the office, but that was the reason given for the two different versions. The goal was to create some artwork in CorelDRAW X6 and save backwards to CorelDRAW X3 for more editing on the other computer. Let's examine why this is a recipe with potential for failure.

First, the two versions of the software were created six years apart. In the world of technology, that's an eternity. Let's go over two specific types of objects in CorelDRAW and how they were handled in the two versions. The differences in these two objects illustrate how things can fail when saving backwards.

A rectangle seems to be a really simple shape and it is a special flavor of object in CorelDRAW. Since the early versions, we could round the corners of a rectangle. With CorelDRAW X5 (if memory serves me correctly), two more types of corners could be specified. Even better, no longer would corners be distorted if the rectangle had been resized disproportionately. So a rectangle created in CorelDRAW X6 and saved backwards to CorelDRAW X3 may have to be converted to curves to look exactly the same. That's great, unless you want to edit it.

For most users, every file with contain some text. Often files will contain quite a few pieces of text. CorelDRAW X6 added support for OpenType and therefore a lot more characters. If you save a file to any previous version, the text will be converted to curves if the look of the text needs to be maintained. If you do that, the text isn't editable. Sure, you can leave the text editable, but the look could change.

Moving files from older versions to newer versions typically works well. Remember, the new version knows what was possible in older versions. The older versions didn't have a crystal ball to know of features that would be added in a future version.

I've only discussed two very basic types of objects. Expand this discussion to the many types of objects you can create in CorelDRAW and I hope you realize that files may not go backwards very well, especially when you save so many versions backwards. If it works well for you, it is cause for celebration. Just don't be surprised if you run into some glitches.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD Drive

SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GBI've written many times in the past about the benefits of an SSD drive. Moving data to and from a mechanical drive is one of the biggest slowdowns on most computers. Using an SSD drive speeds up the process dramatically and can make your whole computer faster.

If speed is the pro, then price is the con. As time passes, the price of SSD drives continues to drop so you aren't paying as much of a premium for speed. Of course the speed and reliability of these drives also continues to increase.

One of the best choices today is the SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB. It is one of the fastest drives currently available and the 480GB of space is likely enough to handle the storage space needed by most users into the foreseeable future. If you work with really large files such as video editing, you'll likely want a mechanical drive to store all that extra data. As I write this, the drive sells for $284.99 on Amazon bringing it down to just over 50 cents per gigabyte. One of its best features is the 10-year warranty. That's a lifetime in the world of computers!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit Now Available

Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success KitA few weeks ago I told you that a Comprehensive Font Management Tutorial In The Works. Some of you provided specific suggestions for what you'd like to see. I combined the recent requests with the more than 20 years of working with users having font issues to create a detailed tutorial to bring you success with your fonts.

The first element of the Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit is a 28-page full-color tutorial explaining all the details. You'll also get a couple of very useful utilities to help you give fonts useful names and to clean out some of the fonts you don't need.

And just in case you didn't have enough fonts to manage, you get 509 fonts from the Fonts Unleashed collection. For all of you who need to get your fonts under control, this is the most complete tutorial ever created for CorelDRAW users. Plus you'll learn how to improve your typography and take advantage of the OpenType features introduced in CorelDRAW X6. Get your copy now!

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Importing Illustrator and PDF Files Can Be Complicated

In the past week, I've had two separate interactions revolving around the importing of Adobe Illustrator and PDF Files into CorelDRAW. Let's start with the very negative reaction one commenter has made on a video I made entitled Why CorelDRAW Claims AI or PDF Files Are Corrupt. I'll warn you that some of this person's comments are not safe due to profanity.

Through multiple attempts to help this person, it was obvious they have no desire to solve the problem, simply to complain. It is very clear they don't like the answers and therefore dismiss the answers we've provided.

CorelDRAW EPS Dialog BoxThe one comment that shows this person is confused is the difference between "placing" a file and "importing". Newer versions of CorelDRAW have one file format that can be used in both ways, the EPS file. Look at the dialog box at right and you'll see the two options. First, "Import as editable" will make each element of the graphic editable in CorelDRAW. This is a very complicated process and doesn't always work perfectly.

I've select the "Place as encapsulated PostScript" option which simply places the file without looking inside of it at all. If the file has a bitmap header stored with it, you'll see that header on screen. Files without a header will show nothing.

Now let's look at PDF files. CorelDRAW always imports them, meaning that it tries to convert every single element in that PDF file into an editable object in CorelDRAW. This is quite different than Adobe InDesign which places PDF files in much the same way I showed that CorelDRAW has the option of placing EPS files. CorelDRAW does not have the ability to place PDF files, though I'm sure users would love it. I also don't think this is a feature you'll see in future versions, but Corel could certainly prove me wrong on that.

That leads me to my other interaction this week with PDF files in particular. I was working with a client that brings in a lot of CAD files in PDF format. Some of these files have more than 100,000 objects so it takes several minutes for CorelDRAW to import them. Two in particular were giving the dreaded "corrupt" message. One of the two was easily fixed by opening it in Adobe Acrobat and saving it to an earlier version of the PDF file format. The other was created by an obscure tool named "Bluestream Brewery 5.0". In the limited time involved, a solution was not found to fix this file.

Similar problems occurred a few months ago when another obscure tool was used to create PDF files. Typically these obscure tools come along with "free" PDF printers. Yes, they create PDF files. But they don't always create files that follow the PDF standard as documented by Adobe. The folks who create the tools will test them in a PDF reader and deem them good. They don't test in all tools and so these files might fail when they are imported in CorelDRAW.

In any given year, I import more than one thousand PDF and/or Adobe Illustrator files into CorelDRAW. It is rare that I get a "corrupt" message because I know the workflow to follow to create PDF and AI files that work. Typically the files I have that do claim to be corrupt are those sent to me by others to troubleshoot. While the files I work with are not corrupt, that does not mean all elements import perfectly. Remember that Adobe and Corel are competitors so it is always a plus when the files transfer perfectly.

You have two choices going forward. Be like the person leaving the profane comments and make it clear that it will never work without providing any details or can know that there is always a way to make it work if you develop a proper workflow. My attitude in the latter and I have great success importing files.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Build Your Design With Free Questlok Font

Download Questlok FontAs a kid, I loved to play with toys like an Erector Set, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys and Legos. When I saw the name of today's free font, Questlok, it immediately made me think it was tied to a similar kind of building toy. There is no connection to any of those awesome toys, but it does offer some very unique characters. Get your free copy!

Not sure how to download and install these free fonts? Make sure to read Downloading Fonts, Installing Fonts and Spam Filters for detailed instructions. Need help setting up an account for free stuff? Read Do You Have Account For Free Stuff On Graphics Unleashed?
Download Questlok Font

Questlok

Questlok Character Chart Downloadable Product
Download Free Fonts

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Most Popular Accented Characters and Symbols Can Be Added Via Keyboard

CorelDRAW Insert Character DockerRecently someone used my Hire the Geek service to have me observe some of their typical tasks in CorelDRAW. Once I observe their workflow, we'll put together training to take their skills to a higher level.

One thing I noticed was that the Insert Character Docker (shown at right) was open during our entire session. Note that the user had CorelDRAW X4 and my screenshot is from CorelDRAW X6. I asked about this and was told how the user was frustrated that they could no longer use a keyboard code to get accented characters and symbols like copyright or registered trademark.

This was a headscratcher to me as I've always entered them via keyboard shortcuts and even mentioned that the keyboard shortcut for the e acute was shown right in the Docker. Simply hold down the Alt key and press 0233 on the numeric keypad (not the numbers at the top of the keyboard). Release the Alt key and you'll have the desired character. I can only guess the user had done something wrong at some point in the past and just made the assumption that it was no longer possible.

This isn't just a CorelDRAW feature, it works in pretty much any Windows program. Below you'll see a screenshot from Windows Character Map (supplied for as long as I can remember with Windows). I've selected the same e acute and you'll note at the bottom right is the same exact keyboard shortcut.

Windows Character Map

What I typically recommend to users is that they find the accented characters, symbols and other non-keyboard characters and make a cheatsheet of the shortcut keys. I have 8-10 of my most used characters memorized so I can easily insert them whenever need in whatever software I'm using.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Asus Strix GTX 960 Delivers Bang For Fewer Bucks and Watts

ASUS Graphics Cards STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC-2GD5Last week I told you a Giant Philips 4K Monitor Delivers Massive Bang For The Buck. As part of that post, I told you that you'd need a video card with Display port 1.2 and enough power to push all those pixels around. The suggestion was the EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti video card which sells for around $150.

For those who want an even more powerful video card, look no further than the Asus Strix GTX 960 DC2OC-2GD5 shown at right. Yes, it costs a bit more as it is currently selling at Amazon for $210. For the slightly higher price, you get a much more powerful card.

Why the Asus over other flavors based on the same nVidia design? Asus has overclocked their card so it runs around 12% faster than a stock version of the card. The two large fans keep the card cool and are nearly silent. It is also DirectX 12 compatible so it supports the latest version of Microsoft display APIs. Even if you aren't currently driving a 4K monitor, you'll find this card delivers more speed than anything else available at such a low price. And all that power draws less power from your computer's power supply. All in all, it delivers a lot of bang for the buck and the watt!


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