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Interview with Gerard Metrailler, Director, Product Management, Graphics at Corel in Canada

For such a high ranking bloke, he was extremely laid back and easy to talk to, especially as English was not his home language. A Swiss by birth, living and working in Ottawa, Canada and an accent that sounded akin to Irish more so than Canadian or Swiss, he provided an entertaining interview with his Australian cohorts, Richard Dodd and Gavin Watson of Corel Asia Pacific.

Gerard was in our region to promote the new CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 which was launched last month. The program sets a new precedent in terms of the giveaways that one receives with the program – 1000 OpenType fonts, 10,000 pieces of clip art, 4000 royalty free images, 1000 hi-res royalty free photographs and 80 professionally designed templates.

His time here was spent visiting users and resellers in order to gather feedback that will potentially be used in version X5 or beyond.

 Richard Dodd, Gerard Metrailler, Gavin Watson (5).gif

From left to right: Richard Dodd, Gerard Metrailler and Gavin Watson

WFOL: How do you see CorelDRAW’s positioning within the sign industry?
GM: CorelDRAW is known as the industry leader in the sign industry. We had a survey done recently by a US company associated with Sign of the Times magazine. They did some research of their readers and the majority say that that they use CorelDRAW.

WFOL: Did they put an exact percentage on that leading position
GM: 60%

WFOL: Why did the numbering system for CorelDRAW change? After 12 it went to X3 and now X4 was there any significance in this?GM: We didn’t want to hit the number 13 for cultural reason. In certain countries this is more important than in others. Also when we reached the 13 stage we didn’t want it t feel as though it was an old product, so it was all to do with branding and regeneration.

WFOL: Do you bring out a new version as you see fit, or is there a strict timetable, like every 24 months.
GM: Historically we have released a new version every 18-24 months. This is about the time it takes us to iron out the kinks and have the product fool proof.

WFOL: Are their any other industry sectors where CorelDRAW dominates?
GM: Any industry that is geared towards design and production. The ones that spring to mind are engraving, printing direct to garment, embroidery, neon bending.
Generally you will find that the users of CorelDRAW are those that have not been professionally trained or gone to an art school to learn graphics but they have discovered graphics on the job. It is the easiest to use application.

WFOL: Exactly what research do you do to ascertain the requirements from the sign industry?
GM: First of all we attend a lot of trade shows and talk to a lot of people at these shows. Then we also visit our users on their premises and ask questions about their requirements.

WFOL: In your opinion are there any obvious functions that are still missing in CorelDRAW, functions perhaps that you have struggled to incorporate so far?
GM: There are always things that users want. There is not one big thing but there is always a way of making things better and we are constantly on the lookout for these. Actually we want our users to spend the least amount of time in CorelDRAW as possible, in other words we want to make it as productive as possible.

WFOL: Do you find any resistance to upgrades due to the fact that users get comfortable with a previous version and don’t want to go through the learning curve again?
GM: If we were to upgrade for the sake of upgrading, then I would understand any resistance that may be forthcoming, however people do upgrade to obtain the new features that can make them more productive. In the case of X4, there are numerous new features as well as the free fonts and free clip art, etc. which are certainly worthwhile. There is potentially thousand of dollars of value in the fonts alone, never mind the extra productivity functions that have been built in.

WFOL: Is there any specific direction that CorelDRAW is moving in?
GM: Most definitely. Up until about Version Eleven Corel tried different directions. We have now refocused onto our two user groups.  The first group are design professionals within the production oriented industries such as sign-making, engraving or direct-to-garment printing. These are people where time is money.

The second group are what we call the Occasional Graphic User, these are people who have a requirement to create promotional pieces in perhaps large corporates, or even a home business.

Then perhaps we have a third group and these are members of the first group who have proven their design capability to their customers and now wish to take on other design work. For instance an engraving company may attract both small and large print work, business cards or posters using CorelDRAW.

WFOL: Producing a printed manual must be expensive. Do you see this going to CD or web based manuals in the future.
GM: Our users put pressure on us to maintain this and we keep doing it, in spite of the expense. It costs us plenty but it adds great value for our users.

Many users use the manual as a sales aid by showing customers the Clip Art or the Images and the customer can select the Clip Art or Image.

WFOL: Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
GM: I would like to suggest to your readers that if they are interested in CorelDRAW X4 they can download a trial version from our web site in order to try out the various features.

Then also they can log onto http://www.coreldraw.com/ where there are forums, blogs, galleries, etc where users can learn how others are utilising this great application.