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Xara Designer Pro X11 : Indezine Review

Explore Xara's Designer Pro X11, a program that has amazing graphics abilities.


Product/Version: PowerPoint

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Using Xara Designer Pro X11
Pricing and Support


Creating graphics is not a cakewalk, but that need not dissuade aspiring designers – especially since many programs now include more intuitive and easy to use abilities that can allow anyone to create awesome quality graphics. Xara Designer Pro X11, the newest version of a well-known graphic program includes all the illustration, photo editing, DTP and web design features you may need.

Xara Designer Pro X11 is from Xara, a company based in Gaddesden Place, UK. Other than Xara Designer Pro X11, Xara also creates other graphic software such as Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11 and Xara Web Designer 11 Premium. You can learn more about their products and download a trial version of Xara Designer Pro X11 from their site.

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


Using Xara Designer Pro X11

Download the installer, run the setup routine and follow the instructions. When launched, you will see the Xara Designer Pro X11 interface, as shown in Figure 1, below.

The Xara Designer Pro X11 interface
Figure 1: The Xara Designer Pro X11 interface

Let’s explore how you can use Shapes with a blending effect applied within Xara Designer Pro X11, and then use it within PowerPoint:

  1. Launch Xara Designer Pro X11, which typically opens with a blank document. Select the QuickShape Tool (highlighted in red within Figure 2) from the Tools palette. This action will show a fly out, from which you can then select the Star shape (highlighted blue in Figure 2).
  2. Star shape selected
    Figure 2: Star shape selected
  3. Now, hold the Ctrl key while dragging to draw a proportionate shape that has the same height to width ratio. Place the shape towards the left edge of the document. If you require, go ahead and optionally change its fill color by clicking on a swatch within the row of colored diamonds below the document area (see Figure 3 again).
  4. Shape drawn
    Figure 3: Shape drawn
  5. Now, access the Edit | Duplicate QuickShape menu option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.
  6. Edit | Duplicate QuickShape menu option
    Figure 4: Edit | Duplicate QuickShape menu option
  7. This will create a duplicated shape. Place this new shape at the opposite edge of the document, and also change its fill color to something that contrasts with the color of the original shape (see Figure 5).
  8. Duplicated Shape
    Figure 5: Duplicated Shape
  9. Select the Blend Tool from the Tools palette, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6.
  10. Blend Tool selected
    Figure 6: Blend Tool selected
  11. When the Blend Tool is activated, click on start object (the first star shape) then drag the pointer over the end object (the second star shape). As you drag the pointer a "blend line" appears, as you can see in Figure 7. Release the mouse button.
  12. Blend line is visible
    Figure 7: Blend line is visible
  13. This will create the blend, as shown in Figure 8. Notice that since the only difference between the two shapes was the color fill, you now see several intermediate shapes in between that alter slightly from each other.
  14. Blend created
    Figure 8: Blend created
  15. You can edit the blend result by changing Steps parameter (shown highlighted in red within Figure 8, above). Steps determine the number of intermediate stages in the blend.
  16. Make sure you Save your Xara document. Then copy the blended shapes (Ctrl+C).
  17. Open PowerPoint and access the Home Tab of the Ribbon. Here click the bottom part of the Paste button. From the drop-down menu that appears, choose the Paste Special option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9.
  18. Paste Special option
    Figure 9: Paste Special option
  19. This opens the Paste Special dialog box, as shown in Figure 10, below. Here select the Picture (Enhanced Metafile) option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 10, and click the OK button.
  20. Paste Special dialog box
    Figure 10: Paste Special dialog box
  21. In Figure 11, below you can see that the blended shapes are pasted on the slide. Ungroup the shapes and use as required.
  22. Blended shapes placed in a PowerPoint slide
    Figure 11: Blended shapes placed in a PowerPoint slide


Pricing and Support

Xara Designer Pro X11 costs US$299. Support is through e-mail, an online knowledge base, and FAQs. Extensive online tutorials including demo movies are available.



Xara Designer Pro’s capabilities far exceed anything available within PowerPoint or other Microsoft Office programs, and is thus a great companion product. Even otherwise, the program can quickly create all sorts of graphics. The price: performance ratio is also amazing.


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