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New Software Blues - Forgetting What You've Learnt

Serif DrawPlus X5
Image: Serif Website.
There was a time when I could skim through a manual for virtually any application software in the space of a weekend and that would be all I'd need to find my way around the program from then on.

There was even a time when I could work out applications based on my previous experience of using similar software.

Whilst those days aren't completely gone I'm finding it harder and harder to learn new software simply because the software can do so much more than it used to.

For example, I got very used to using Corel Draw 8 and the suite of tools that came with it back in 1995. I learnt to use it over the space of a weekend so I could complete a large commission I was working on for a client.

I'm from the school of if it does the job then don't upgrade. Corel Draw 8 has done the job I need it for well for nearly 15 years. Plus I don't like spending money unnecessarily on upgrades - I just don't buy into the whole concept of computer software and hardware being obsolete from the moment it's released.

However after 15 years, even I can see there's a need to upgrade so I did. I went with Serif Draw X5 because it worked with my graphics tablet and because it was far  cheaper than an upgrade to Corel Draw X6.

The problem is I seem to be really struggling with learning it. Sure I know the very basics. The common features that most drawing programs have such as the Pen and Pencil tools, how to adjust line widths and change colours etc. It's all the advanced stuff that I'm struggling with.

Serif Draw X5 comes with a lot of built in context help that you can read as you draw. It has a help panel that you can keep open for a refresher of how to use any tool as you select it. Despite this I still don't seem to be able to make things stick in my brain.

I've done all the tutorial videos for the program at least twice to help out but even that isn't really working - even though the tutorials are really good with step by step examples.

It's not helping things that I've bought quite a lot of software lately and am experiencing similar problems learning them as well.

I know I'll get there eventually if I keep persevering but it's very frustrating knowing that the tools I have are the right ones for the job if only I knew how to use them confidently.

I guess the analogy I could liken it to is learning how to walk again after an accident. You know how to walk  but until you strengthen all the muscles it's going to take time to get back to where you were before.

That said, if I"m having trouble learning some of these programs, I can only imagine what difficulties someone with less experience of using application software packages must be having.


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