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CorelDraw 2019 comes back to the Mac and onto the web

After almost 20 years, Corel takes another stab at luring Mac users to its CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2019.

CorelDraw on the Mac.

Corel

Corel surrendered to the inevitable and dropped its Mac version of the CorelDraw products in 2001. 18 years on, the company is bringing it back simultaneously with the release of its latest Windows update, CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2019, and its debut into the web app world. The difference this time is the Mac version isn't a warmed-over Windows application. Instead it's built from a separate and newly developed code base.

What that means in practice is that it looks and feels like a native Mac OS application. It adheres to system-specific conventions -- preferences under the application menu rather than the edit menu as they are in Windows, support for dark mode in High Sierra, extensive Touch Bar integration, Javascript rather than VBA for scripting, and so on. It also supports native GPU acceleration. Functionally, however, it's on par with the Windows version.

Based on the system requirements, it should run on systems as low-end as the late-model MacBook Air (it requires at least four logical cores, which rules out the old models using the Intel Core 2 Duo).

The CorelDraw web app comprises a subset of the larger application's features, with documents saved to Corel's proprietary cloud service. But it's not a standalone product: Access comes as part of the Suite and it's intended for collaboration or quick-and-dirty creations, though it does support multipage layouts. There will be a paid-for subscription upgrade dubbed CorelDraw Pro.app.

You won't yet be able to use the web app offline or share documents in the cloud via a link. Those features are scheduled for a little later this year.

Either Suite runs $500 (£600 or about AU$700) for the perpetual license. Note that it's not a "dual SKU," so the Windows and Mac versions are considered separate products. Windows owners can upgrade for $200 (£300) and there's also a subscription option for  $198 (£200) per year with perennial upgrades as long as you're paying.

The Suite comes with the main illustration application, Photo-Paint and AfterShot (raw and HDR editor), plus a few utilities such as a font manager. And, as any long-time CorelDraw follower will expect, tons of clipart and fonts.

The CorelDraw web app runs in a browser.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The two most notable new features in the main CorelDraw application are an Objects Docker (called the "Objects Inspector" on Mac OS, it's basically the object hierarchy of the document), non-destructive effects and editable effect stacks on bitmaps. The latter means that if, for example, you apply effects to an image with a clipping path attached, you can still edit the effect settings without painfully unbundling everything (or worse).

There's also beefed-up GPU acceleration and a more robust Windows tablet mode which takes extensive advantage of the Microsoft Dial. This is analagous to the Touch Bar integration on the MacBook Pro.

It might be too late for Corel to stage a comeback on the Mac, although stranger things have happened. Corel owns one of the original killer applications that helped launch the Mac as a graphics powerhouse -- Corel Painter, nee Fractal Design Painter, which Corel bought from Metacreations in 2000 -- and has managed to retain its fan base. It also owns Parallels, bought in December 2018, which is one of the most popular Mac virtual machine programs. But despite bulking up of its Mac products through those acquisitions, the bulk of its portfolio has been in Windows for almost two decades. 

CorelDraw Mac in dark mode.

Corel

The online app is based on Gravit Designer, which Corel bought in June 2018. That's still a separate product for the time being, but don't forget that pro CorelDraw.app I mentioned earlier.

Growing pains are inevitable with a brand-new application. I tried to run it simply to create a screenshot but the app was sluggish and crashed twice before I gave up. On a Mac Pro. 

Times have changed, too. There's a lot of competition on the Mac, and I'm not just talking about Adobe Illustrator. Software such as Affinity Designer and Pixelmator Pro have justifiably devoted fans. So it remains to be seen if there's room for Corel to elbow its way in.

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