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Lineform - The new ClarisDraw

In the days of System 7.5 and up until MacOS 9, I did most of my graphics and drawing stuff using the excellent ClarisDraw application. It was the perfect combination between power and ease-of-use (even though it suffered Claris's typical "jumping lines" imprecision when zooming). But with the advent of MacOS X, ClarisDraw eventually developed more and more problems, refusing to print, crashing Classic under odd circumstances etc.

So, eventually I went out to search for a new drawing application. I tried Illustrator, Freehand, EazyDraw, Canvas and even Inkscape and OpenOffice.org. The closest I got was Intaglio - a Carbon-based drawing application that natively imports ClarisDraw files. It had most of the power, but its bezier path tool left much to be desired, and a discussion with its developer quickly made me realise that he was so busy fighting Carbon that the annoying GUI issues would never get fixed.

Then, a six months ago, a new drawing app named Inform was released. Once people pointed out that there already was a programming language of that name, it got renamed to Lineform. But boy, is it a great program. It has a modern Cocoa foundation like EazyDraw, a simple and non-gaudy GUI like Keynote, with the basic feature set that attracted me to Intaglio (except for ClarisDraw import).

It doesn't do pressure-sensitive WACOM tablets yet (though it has an "artistic" drawing style that looks similar), but I bought it anyway. Here's why:

  • Simple GUI. Five core tools, two "pointer" tools, two "navigation" tools and an eye-dropper. No two dozens of tools, but all the tools I need.
  • Every object can be converted into a bezier path. So, I can draw a circle and turn it into a path to create a speech balloon.
  • You can union, intersect, subtract or X-Or any object from another. Want a doughnut? Draw two circles and subtract. Want a balloon with two tips? Draw two tips with straight bezier segments, convert a circle to a path, union them and you have it.
  • It uses the Cocoa text system for text tools. Free syntax checking, skewing, scaling, resizing, kerning, the works... You can even write text along a curve.
  • Every object can be scaled (proportionally or disproportionally) and rotated. Yeah, I know you get that free with Quartz, but you do it live, and it just works.
  • The most intuitive way of specifying corner roundness for a rectangle I've ever used. Just grab the corner and pull in or out.
  • Shadows and different blend modes for effects.
  • Image, gradient and color fills.
  • Named Layers.
  • It comes with a PDF manual that actually tells you something interesting.
  • ... oh yeah, and it's a universal binary.
And now imagine how cool this app could get if it reached version 10, like another candidate I almost picked before Adobe bought the manufacturer...

Update: Incorporated name change, updated site URL and some more small changes.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Joel Mochida writes:
I ahve ClarisDraw on disk and while trying to load on my Mac when I put in disk four the computer said the disk was another disk so I checked the disk in question and it was labeled incorrectly. I renamed the disk but the computer informed me that although I did change the disk name the disk was still incorrect. I am using or planning to use ClarisDraw on Classic 9. ClarisDraw was the last software and I started with "Draw" (not sure what it was called), then I went to MacDraw Pro and am looking for another program as flexible as ClarisDraw. You mentioned "Inform" so will check your suggestion out. Mahalo from Hawaii (Thank you from Hawaii) Joel Mochida
frederick writes:
just upgraded to 10.4.7 (and still experiencing OS 9 > OS 10 shock)... so what do you use to access old MacDraw and Claris Draw files? FreeHand is our drawing app of choice (since vs 1) but I have scads of drawings and plans in CD that I'd like to access. I can use FH for new stuff, but none have the dimensioning capability that CD has/had. nice blog btw...found it thru a google search for clarisdraw Frederick
Uli Kusterer replies:
@Frederick: Well, if you need to convert the files, Intaglio really seems to be your only option. I just exported my stuff from ClarisDraw with an old version and then imported that into Lineform, but that only gives you the whole page as a single picture, so you can't really edit that stuff.
Joseph Rosario writes:
Thanks for the Intaglio tip! I've been looking for a OSX app to edit my old MacDraw Pro files for a long time.
Jim Gordon writes:
I have a huge number of ClarisDraw files made from roughly 1995 through the present and have taken something like 18 months to import them into an old version (2?) of Intaglio, software that suffices but is not as good for my purposes as ClarisDraw. But, I do want a new Intel chip iMac to replace my horribly outdated 2003 floating-screen iMac stuck with OS 10.2.6.! I chose Intaglio because of it's importing capability and it's compatibility with the Intel chips. Now, can I hope for seamless integration with the latest version of Intaglio? If so, is there any reason I cannot (1) purchase a new iMac and (2) use the latest version of OS X (10.6.6?)? Jim
Shane ONeill writes:
I am looking to purchase and old version of ClarsDraw for PC. I have very old ClarisDraw files that I need to print out from time to time. I'd appreciate any help that anyone can be given.
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Created: 2006-04-14 @765 Last change: 2014-07-24 @875 | Home | Admin | Edit
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