Deneba Canvas has long occupied a middle ground in the Mac graphics market. Combining vector-illustration, image-editing, and page-layout functions in a single package, it was seen as the graphics equivalent of ClarisWorks. Its components offered most of the core features of such leading stand-alone applications as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and QuarkXPress but lacked many of the high-end, cutting-edge functions of those programs. Now, with the introduction of Canvas 6, Deneba (305/596-5644, http://www.deneba.com ) hopes to steal some of its competitors' thunder and expand its appeal to graphics professionals.
The key to Deneba's strategy is a new technology called SpriteLayers. A SpriteLayer is an object that contains text, a bitmapped image, or a vector graphic. You can mix different kinds of SpriteLayers on the same document layer. Any SpriteLayer can be made transparent, and you can attach objects to each other to create masking effects. In addition to adjusting an object's overall transparency, you can use transparency gradients to create effects in which one object gradually fades away to reveal an object underneath. You can also create bitmapped alpha channels that act as transparency masks on vector, raster, or text objects.
The upgrade adds technical-drawing features borrowed from CAD software, including the Fillet tool, for creating precisely rounded corners, and a guides layer that can be placed behind or in front of objects. New image-editing features include additional built-in filters and the ability to import Photoshop layers. New page-layout capabilities include Master Layers, which let you mix and match master-page elements, and an AutoCorrect text-editing feature that resembles the one in Microsoft Word.
Deneba has also spruced up the Canvas interface, which now features a customizable tool bar and keyboard shortcuts. You can assign shortcuts to object attributes such as color, stroke, and style. If you drag a vector object to the Inks palette, Canvas automatically extracts the colors and adds them.
Deneba Canvas 6 is set to ship by the time you read this. The company's estimated price is $349; users of competing graphics programs can get the new version for $199.
January 1999 page: 37