By Steve Bain
When it comes to your creative freedom to radically change your software's user interface, few applications come close to the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. By changing your CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT workspace, you can literally go wild with custom toolbars, command menus, and shortcuts to create a look and feel to suit your workflow or your tastes.
Besides the cool factor, there's an invaluable practical side to customizing your workspace. It's surprising how quickly each extra moment you spend adjust tool settings or sifting through options can add up over the course of a task or project. Organizing and optimizing your workspace can yield an invaluable resource many of us often lack-time.
So, what exactly constitutes a workspace? Essentially, a workspace is a collection of interface settings. It includes the current state and positioning of all dockers, command menus, and toolbars as well as shortcut keys and status bar display. Workspaces also include any customized items you have created such as new command menus or custom toolbars.
Corel's workspace file uses the XML file structure which means the files can be easily created, saved, and shared. You can save and/or share different workspaces for specific design, layout, or graphic operations, or to emulate other applications. Virtually any interface element can be moved, copied, or deleted enabling you to personalize your program to suit your own work habits or needs. In this tutorial, we'll explore how to switch workspaces, perform toolbar customization, export your workspace, set document default settings, and restore your application to its original factory settings. That's plenty of ground to cover, so we'd better get started.
Your current workspace is determined by the application or document settings you've selected during the course of working with the application or by importing a saved workspace file using the Workspace pane of the Options dialog. For some hands-on experience saving and importing workspaces into CorelDRAW X3, start by downloading and saving this workspace file. We'll use it next to explore and experiment with a few powerful workspace tricks. (NOTE: If you've changed your current workspace and wish to save it, be sure to perform the first three steps. Otherwise, jump to step 4.)
With the file saved to your system, follow these steps:
At this point, you may be wondering to yourself how you're going to undo what you've done so far. If needed, you can return to the Options dialog any time and choose a different workspace. For example, if you'd like to load your previous workspace, simply open a new document, open the Options dialog to the Workspace list, place a check mark next to My Old Workspace, and click OK to close the dialog. Your application interface will be returned to its previous state.
You can also return your workspace to its original factory default state. To do this, follow these brief steps:
Take a close look at the tutorial workspace you now have loaded. If you're accustomed to working with the usual default workspace, you'll notice several things have changed as shown below.
To begin with, a new Artwork Surfer toolbar is visible and other interface elements such as the command menus, Toolbox, and Status Bar are missing. To explore further, follow these steps:
With the tutorial workspace still loaded, let's do a little toolbar customization. As a general rule of thumb, virtually anything you see in your CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT interface can be moved, copied, or deleted.
This includes customizing any menu item, tool or toolbar button to create or modify any new or existing menu or toolbar. You can use customization features in the Options dialog to work with command bars, but the interactive method is much more intuitive. All it takes is a click-drag action while holding these keys:
Using this method, it's important to press and hold the modifiers before you begin your mouse action. For some hands-on experience, try these operations:
You may also add toolbar flyouts to your custom toolbar. A flyout is essentially a grouped collection of toolbar buttons. Creating new toolbar flyouts and copying or moving items from other flyouts requires a little more wrist action. To explore how it's done, follow these steps:
There are two ways you can preserve your custom CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT workspace-either by creating a new workspace as we covered earlier, or through exporting. You can also choose which specific items to include your workspace if you wish. The export operation creates a unique file you can email, share between colleagues, or copy to other systems. To export your current workspace, follow these steps:
If you're new to the workspace concept, it may help to know what is and isn't stored in a workspace file. For example, your CorelDRAW workspace does not determine document-level settings. Document settings include defaults such as fill and outline properties for graphic and text objects, a variety of general display-related preferences, as well as page, ruler, grid, guideline, style, save, and Web publishing options. These settings provide an extra layer of customization if you need it. You can choose which settings applied to your document to save as defaults in the Options dialog by choosing the Document options (shown below). Enable the check mark next to the setting you wish to save.
Once you have selected which document settings to save, you can immediately save all current document settings as defaults for new documents by choosing Tools > Save Settings as Defaults as shown below. Any currently applied document settings will be saved in your default CorelDRAW.cdt template file an automatically applied to each new document file you create.
If you've never ventured into the Corel Graphics Suite's powerful world of customization, this tutorial has exposed you to some intriguing possibilities. It may also help to know that although I often refer to CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3, similar features are available in previous releases.
Steve Bain is an award-winning illustrator and designer, and an author of nearly a dozen books, including CorelDRAW®: The Official Guide.