Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 129 / MAY 1991 / PAGE 113

Designer. (graphics software) (evaluation)
by Robert Bixby

Micrografx's Designer version 3.0 makes the most of the new Windows operating environment and should be a significant contender in the high-end designware market that also includes Arts & Letters Graphic Editor and Corel Draw. Much has been made of the relative merits of these packages, along with DrawPerct, GEM Artline, and a handful of other products. Generally, the argument boils down to what features are more important to the individual.

Designer's installation is much more user-directed than most, pausing at each turn to ask whether certain features should be added and giving an estimate of the amount of disk space they will occupy-along with the amount of hard disk space remaining.

Graphic artists who work with scanned art will enjoy Designer's autotrace feature. While Arts & Letters can only trace a single contour in a monochrome graphic and Corel Draw uses an external program to automatically trace an entire graphic, Designer combines these features. It will trace an imported file with gray scales or multiple colors, recognizing the contours automatically and coloring the tracings to match the traced areas to which they correspond, right inside the main program.

Designer isn't very graceful when it uses all available memory in a too-complex autotrace. First a dialog box repeats several times, complaining that it has run out of memory, and then it continues to try to create the last trace until the user presses Esc. To Designer's credit, however, the program doesn't crash, and you can back out of most actions with Esc.

Despite the fact that I had 4205K available to me, Designer refused to print when the figure onscreen was Designer is a high-end drawing program that makes the most of Windows 3.0. highly complex. The solution offered by the technical support personnel was to make the trace less complex. I would suggest that future releases should make use of available memory for temporary storage of the graphic specifications. I like complex traces, and I'd like to be able to print them out as well.

The people at technical support are patient and knowledgeable (they knew I was a reviewer). Their hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. As a purchaser, you would be entitled to unlimited free technical support, but the registration card gives you the option of a year's "extended" technical support. This actually means that, for $150, you will receive Designer upgrades for a year.

Designer comes with a program called Telegrafx, which allows you to download your Designer charts and graphics to a slide service, which can create physical manifestations of your graphics for sales presentations and other kinds of shows. This has become a standard feature of design software and is widely available.

Although Designer isn't equipped to do "tweening" (creating intermediate shapes between two different drawings, as between a bat and a vampire) as Arts & Letters Graphic Editor is, it can make multiple copies of a single figure, distorting it and moving it a set amount for each copy. It substitutes gradient fill for blending-a poor bargain, in my opinion.

You can manipulate nodes (move control and set points for curves and lines in a drawing) through combinations of mouse buttons and the Ctrl, Alt, and Shift keys on the keyboard, which is harder to learn than the competing interfaces' styles. (Corel Draw uses a pop-up menu when you double-click on a point, and Arts & Letters uses selections from an existing toolbox and menu.) However, once you've learned Designer's node-manipulation technique, it's faster and less troublesome, representing a slight tradeoff of friendliness for efficiency.

In all, Designer is a capable piece of software representing the state of the art in many areas, but it distinguishes itself in its autotrace capabilities. Its interface is slightly harder to learn but more efficiently laid out than that of the competition.

IBM PC AT md companies or an. 80386-based

system; 1MB RAM; DOS 3.1 or

higher with Windows; EGA, VGA, or

851 4/A graphics; 20MB hard disk, mouse

or digitizing pad-$695


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