Industry Standards

November 2, 2006

I often hear people talking about how something is an industry standard. Unfortunately they don’t always do a good job of backing up that statement. I’ll provide a few examples and then I hope you’ll post your thoughts. For this discussion, we’re going to limit our debate to comparing CorelDRAW with Adobe Illustrator and Corel PHOTO-PAINT with Adobe Photoshop. Maybe another day we can discuss other products.

We’ll start with CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator. This debate came up again in the Corel support newsgroups when one visitor was told by their printer that Illustrator was the industry standard and that CorelDRAW was not. Before we discuss the merits of the software, let’s talk about that statement. It is just plain stupid. Not that it is right or wrong in fact, but that the printer is automatically rejecting people who might bring them business.

Sometimes these debates are actually PC vs. Mac. While the commercials we see on TV with the two characters representing the platforms, these debates usually aren’t very amusing and the truth often has nothing to do with the debate. Adobe has released native versions of Illustrator on both PC and Mac. This leads to many Mac users automatically dismissing anything else. I’ve seen CorelDRAW running on the new Intel-based Macs and it works pretty darned well. In order for this to happen, a user has to install Parallels and a copy of Windows. With Parallels, CorelDRAW almost looks like it is a native Mac app and it runs beautifully.

On price, CorelDRAW has Adobe Illustrator beat by around $100 at street prices. Oh, and CorelDRAW throws in Corel PHOTO-PAINT along with fonts, clip art and more. CorelDRAW supports multiple page documents. Illustrator supports one page. CorelDRAW has built-in imposition tools. Illustrator has expensive plug-ins that do imposition. Almost any task can be completed with fewer clicks in CorelDRAW. Yes, there are features in Illustrator that aren’t in CorelDRAW. At best, the programs are equals in capabilities but that would be giving Illustrator a lot of latitude. Basically the reason some people consider Illustrator the industry standard is that they don’t truly know both products.

In the laser engraving industry, 90% of users use CorelDRAW. Wouldn’t that make CorelDRAW the industry standard? You’ll also find high percentages of CorelDRAW users in the embroidery, sublimation, screen printing, quilting and many more industries.

I’ll stick with CorelDRAW and I’ll let the Illustrator users stick with their choice. This just means I can do more in less time than them and that helps me to keep my clients happy.

Now let’s look at Corel PHOTO-PAINT vs. Adobe Photoshop. You can’t buy Corel PHOTO-PAINT as a standalone. It is bundled with CorelDRAW. Even if we consider the cost of CorelDRAW, it is still at least $200 less than Adobe Photoshop. Given that it comes with CorelDRAW, that’s a lot of power in the box for a price lower than either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop and much less than the two of them combined.

As with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop runs on both Mac and PC. And Corel PHOTO-PAINT can run on the Mac with Parallels. I won’t dispute that overall Adobe Photoshop has more power. I would venture an educated guess that Corel PHOTO-PAINT has at least 90% of the power of Adobe Photoshop. Many of the things it doesn’t have aren’t things of use to the majority of users. There is no doubt that some users choose Photoshop simply because it is considered the “cool” thing to use. I don’t want cool, I want productivity. Having used both, I know I can get a lot more done in a lot less time in Corel PHOTO-PAINT. And though Photoshop may have more features overall, I find a lot of very useful things that can only be found in Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

Last weekend I went to a class on digital photography. All of the speakers were using Macs and Adobe Photoshop. There is no doubt that Adobe Photoshop is the most used application in the digital photography world. Yet I really didn’t see anything all day that couldn’t be done in Corel PHOTO-PAINT. They were proud of the Actions they had created to automate tasks. Each of those tasks could also be a script or macro in Corel PHOTO-PAINT. And then I could easily add it to my menus or toolbars. In short, anything they can do, I can do quicker. I didn’t say anything to any of them as I was there to learn techniques and I most certainly did. Now I’ll quietly go back to work with my secret weapon, Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

So what do you think? Which apps do you prefer in these debates and why do you prefer them? I’m not interested in some rumor you’ve heard. I want factual information. Let’s hear it!

Post Discussion


  1. Dan

    This is prevalent throughout the software using world. For example Microstation users think their software is superior to AutoCAD and vice-versa.

    The most vocal are those who have never used the opposite software and have no idea what they are talking about. In truth there is a 95% overlap in functionality between all these similar pieces of software, and the remaining 5% is what gives the software its flavour, the method of doing something rather than preventing something from being done.

  2. Jody McC

    Last year went to a two day class on Adobe Illustrator. You might ask why when I have been a Draw user since Ver 6. Well, Ive had numerous print shops here in Denver tell me they accept Illustrator files via email but not draw files. Also, my company has a graphics department that uses Adobe products on Macs. I figured I needed to know how to use Illustrator. When I went to the class, I took my laptop on which had Ver 11, I think. I sat in the front row and followed along with the lessons in Illustrator on the PC supplied but I was also recreating everything in Draw. During the first break, I had about half the class around me asking me what software I was using. The instructor came over and proceeded to tell me that she was a qualified instructor for both software products and that I should keep doing what I was doing as it would be an interesting comparison. I asked her which software she would prefer to use if given a choice and she told me CorelDraw, hands down. However, this was an Illustrator class so we continued on.
    In the end, when all was said and done, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing I learned to do with Illustrator that I could not also do in Draw only I could usually do it much faster and with finer control than in Illustrator. Im very glad I went to the class because I can now speak this issue with authority, I know both products and I KNOW which one is better. For me, this is not opinion, it is fact.

  3. Stan

    I second everything Foster said. In my day to day work as a designer, every single time I’m in a time crunch I will always revert to Corel simply because it is more user friendly and faster. I have 2 people that I supervise that swear Adobe is the better platform and I’ve challenged them to do anything in Adobe that I can’t do in Corel… I’ve yet to loose.
    Simply put, times have changed and Adobe isn’t the wiz kid on the block it was 10 0r 15 years ago.

  4. Robert Casanova

    Thank you Foster for putting this into perspective. I have been using
    Corel for many years and love it. I have two brothers who swear by Adobe. I really get tired of hearing about it’s superiority!

  5. Debby Abrahams

    There are significant differences in user interface that make each program right some times, and wrong others. I mostly work in PhotoPaint 9 & X3, and Photoshop 4 and CS2.
    Most striking is the poor presentation of the paint-on mask. Because the masked (white) area of the image is not transparent, it is difficult to shape and tweak the mask, but in PShop, you can see the outlines of the object below, which allows for better selection.

    Equally important, PShop has a better record of fixing problems (and also not breaking things that are working). Why the “Bump Map” filter is so messed up in PPaint X3 is beyond me, but the shaping controls have been messed up since v. 10.

    Of course, PSHop doesn’t always get it right. The main reason I use PShop 4 is for silhouetting photos. In that version (but not later ones) I can keep one hand on the mouse, and the other on the keyboard for quick efficient work without constantly mousing back and forth to the tool selector. This was changed in PShop 5, once again applying the “If it ain’t broke, break it” principle.

    So the tool I choose depends on the task at hand. I started out as a Corel person, and I’ll stay one, but at this point, I think PShop CS2 has the edge.


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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