Xara Boosts Designer to Pro X11

The Xara Designer programme has a long history and was originally developed in the UK for the Acorn Archimedes in the 1980s, although it was acquired by a German publisher, Magix Ag in 2015.

The company has just released a new version of its flagship product, Designer Pro X11, and has also updated the lighter “Xara Photo and Graphics Designer”. We’ve been giving the new version something of a work-out, and very good it is. A lot of the new features are for website design – the programme can create complete sites and now offers some online editing in the cloud – but which is less interesting to us.

In the graphics area, there are new art brush and blend/transparency modes. Transparency has often been an issue in other packages where vector and image graphics need to be used on the same illustration, but the latest version has added new modes that are not only safe for W3C standards on the web but also for PDF use. There are new art brush tools and “liquify” tools that help to create more organic shapes. I particularly liked a new vector tool that can create separate shapes from all the intersecting shapes in a diagram (including bit maps).

This is not a photo, but a Xara photrealistic drawing. Click on it to see a higher resolution version

We like the fact that Xara has increasingly supported text well, acting more and more as a desktop publishing tool as a replacement for a dedicated app. New features include improvments in embedded graphics. We use Xara to create brochures and it’s often very useful to be able to import full pdf pages with high quality and the latest version adds to the existing features in this area. There are full features for exporting pdfs in formats ready for publication. Xara has always been very fast in rendering and even on my UltraHD display, the speed is very good, with live preview of many effects, which really helps to boost productivity.

Magix is still using a purchase model for the software, which costs $299 or €279 (inc VAT), or $99 as an upgrade.

Analyst Comment

I love the idea of being able to use Xara for all my graphics needs. On getting the latest version, I really spent some time trying to improve my understanding of the bit-mapped graphics side to see if I could replace the variety of other tools I use for my digital photography. However, in the end, I couldn’t always get the results I wanted and I had some issues with plug-ins (Xara can support some Photoshop plug-ins and is supplied with a number).

Then I found some excellent free tutorial videos on using Xara for bitmap editing and those show that it’s really not a problem to use Xara for almost any bitmap process. The tutorials also made me realise that there is a really good add-on that is supplied with Xara, called Magic Bullet “Looks” that is very sophisticated and able to get great results. However, I still find myself sometime struggling with how to do things when it’s a simple bitmap, so in the end, I still use a dedicated bit-map editor for heavy editing sessions. However, Xara does everything else I need to do graphically other than that! (BR)