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Xara Designer Pro 6

Reviewed:

June 30th 2010
June 30th 2010






Introduction
About Xara Designer Pro 6
New Features
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

Graphic programs range from the easy-to-use to the detailed, and from those that work with illustrations to those that work with pictures. Xara Designer Pro 6 is a program that does it all and manages to still appear uncomplicated and intuituive. How does this program fare? Read this review to find out more...

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About Xara Designer Pro 6

Xara Designer Pro 6 is from Xara, a company based in Gaddesden Place, UK. The new version is the successor to Xara Xtreme Pro, and is now called Xara Designer Pro. The basic Xara Xtreme program is now called Xara Photo & Graphic Designer -- it is less featured than the Designer Pro version, but still very capable. Other than Designer Pro, Xara also creates other graphic software such as Xara Web Designer, Xara 3D Screen Maker, Xara 3D, etc. You can learn more about their products and download the 30 days trial version of Xara Designer Pro 6 from their site...

Xara Designer Pro is ideal for both print and the web as it is equally flexible with vector or bitmap graphics. It repertoire allows to create simple logo designs, detailed illustrations, photo compositions, web pages, and animations (GIF and Flash)..

Here are the file types that Designer Pro can work with:

  • Bitmap file formats: GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, PSD, and RAW
  • Vector file formats: PDF, AI/EPS, and EMF/WMF
  • Text: RTF (Rich Text Format).
  • Animation: Xara Designer Pro creates GIF and Flash animations.
  • Web: (X)HTML

My contact for this review was Nova Fisher -- thank you Nova.

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New Features

Xara Designer Pro 6 builds upon the extensive feature set of Xara Xtreme Pro 5 -- the new and improved features in Xara Designer Pro 6 include:

General Enhancements:

  1. New user interface (See Figure 1).

    Xara designer pro 6 interface
    Figure 1: Xara Designer Pro 6 interface

  2. New fly-out tools and buttons.
  3. Auto-updating of the Designs Gallery and automatic back-up of all open documents.
  4. Automatic save & restore of open documents on closedown.
  5. Hierarchical arrangement of Designs Gallery content (See Figure 2).

    Design gallery
    Figure 2: Design gallery

Drawing & Design Features:

  1. A new straight line /arrowhead tool, solid live shape drawing tool, and solid live line drawing tool.
  2. A new Sketch Mode option.
  3. Balanced bezier editing.
  4. Solid blend update.
  5. Enhanced pressure support for graphics tablets (combined with Sketch Mode for creating cartoons).
  6. Opacity Masks, a new way of defining and applying transparency to irregularly shaped areas.
  7. New ‘enhance’ transparency type which allows you to adjust the brightness and contrast of any part of document including text and drawings.
  8. Selector Tool infobar that includes perimeter and area info for selected lines of shapes.
  9. Improved Page & Layer Gallery (formerly Object Gallery) now includes all objects plus new Solo, Layer and Locate modes.
  10. Easier control of graphic styles (attributes).
  11. New paste style fly-out on top toolbar to give quick access to cut, copy, paste, etc.

Text Features:

  1. Support for bullets, numbered lists and indents.
  2. Find & Replace for the Text tool.

Photo Features:

  1. Scaling improvements and new content aware zoom.
  2. Vector based photo enhancements perform selective enhancements to any part or region of a photo using the mask feature.
  3. Clone area tool, an entirely new tool which allows erasure of photo regions by cloning parts of a photo from one area to another, even from one photo to another.
  4. EXIF Viewer.
  5. Perspective correction tool.
  6. Simplified photo editing workflow - just open a JPEG, edit it, and click Save to get an edited JPEG saved back in its place.
  7. Ability to create manual brightness curves in the Levels tool.
  8. Edge trace freehand drawing to assist in drawing of vector lines around the outline of high-contrast shapes or objects in photos.
  9. Optional auto-downsizing of photos on import.
  10. ’Optimize all JPEGs’ menu option, a quick way to reduce the file size of documents containing many JPEG photos.

Web Features:

  1. Significantly enhanced NavBar handling and DHTML menu support.
  2. Drag 'n' drop color schemes for instant color changes.
  3. Drag 'n' drop Widgets from the Designs Gallery, and a new Widget library.
  4. HTML snippets can be pasted directly into your document, with an automatic preview/placeholder created.
  5. A large selection of new designs in the Designs Gallery (see Figure 3).

    Design gallery
    Figure 3: Design gallery

  6. New ‘complete website’ designs.
  7. An easy way to add links to (and upload) external files such as PDF, Flash and Word files.
  8. Incremental Publishing.
  9. FTP details can be stored with the document.
  10. Named FTP profiles.
  11. Free web hosting offer from MAGIX Online World, including 500MB space and a personal web address.
  12. Enhanced photo thumbnail pop-ups.
  13. Create a slideshow with next/previous controls.
  14. Auto filling of photo galleries via simple drag & drop of photos.
  15. Support for justified text.
  16. Easy MP4 video upload and built-in video player.
  17. Enhanced page color and background color support.
  18. Ability to support rounded-corner pages, add drop shadows to the page and set the vertical offset.
  19. Time-saving 'Preview current page' and 'Preview whole document' options.
  20. Simpler HTML and 'pure HTML' paragraphs.

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Pricing and Support

Xara Designer Pro 6 costs US$299, and can be bought online through a secure server.

Support is through e-mail, an online knowledge base and FAQs. Extensive online tutorials including demo movies are available.

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Conclusion

Xara Designer Pro 6 continues being an awesome product that makes working with all graphic types so much easy -- it's also a great complemetary product to Microsoft Office applications and worth the US$299 price.

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