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Office Suite Evaluation: Drawing

Assignment: Draw a floor plan of the new computer lab.

I am not sure what the Windows competitor here is. Draw (screenshot)

The program is called Draw. This is a misnomer; it is much more an object manipulation program intended for symbolic graphics (organization charts, bar graphs) rather than representational art (e.g. room floor plans). I found it hard to learn how to use it, and to accomplish the assigned task. I was never able to figure out how to turn on the floating toolbars, so as to select a line style, nor how to draw an arc centered on a given point, so I was not able to make the symbol for the room's door. Nonetheless, I did produce a mostly finished plan. As usual with OpenOffice programs, it had an unrecoverable error when exiting (didn't say what the problem was).

Resource usage: Installed size not available separately. File size 6.7 Kb, virtual 132 Mb, rss 56 Mb, CPU 21 secs.

KDE: Karbon14

The vector graphics program in KDE is called Karbon14. It looks a lot like OpenOffice Draw. Unfortunately the help file could not be found, so I had to learn it by guessing -- which didn't work out.

Resource usage (with incomplete drawing): File size 1.6 Kb, virtual 61 Mb, rss 24 Mb, CPU 5 secs.

Gnome: Dia

The official diagram drawing program for Gnome is Dia. I looked through the package file list and there are a lot of predrawn symbols for electronics, civil engineering, VLSI design, flowcharting, etc. There is extensive control of line style, ends (arrows and much more), and color. Unfortunately the only help was an index file whose only entry was Podręcznik Dia. I was able to get started on the drawing, but I couldn't figure out how to group objects, rotate them, etc., so I was not able to do the whole job.

QCad (screenshot)

QCad (probably) imitates AutoCad. This is the program I would normally use for an assignment like a floor plan. Unlike with any of the competitors, I was able to finish the whole assignment including drawing the door.

Resource usage: installed size 4.8 Mb, file size 10.9 kb, virtual 41.8 Mb, rss 12.0 Mb, CPU 12 secs.

Gnome: Gimp

For bitmap images such as photographs and logos, Gnome's Gimp has no peer. Its Windows competitor is Adobe Photoshop. But a program of this type is not appropriate for vector graphics tasks such as an architectural plan or a chart.

Conclusion: The drawing programs from all of the suites were unsatisfactory to various degrees. The author uses QCad for architectural plans and vector-type diagrams, and Gimp for bitmap images such as photographs and logos. One lesson here is that there are several kinds of drawing programs, and it is important to choose a program that fits the task, rather than forcing it to do a task it is not suited for.

The lack of a help file killed two programs that looked very promising.

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