Xara Page & Layout Designer Affordable Choice For Page Layout

July 20, 2013

Xara Newsletter TemplatesThere are three basic categories of software for doing page layout. On the high end we have software like Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress and the not updated in over 10 years Corel Ventura. The low end has products like Microsoft Publisher and Serif PagePlus. Lastly is the software that isn’t specifically meant for page layout and that includes word processors and even CorelDRAW.

Xara saw the need for another competitor in the low end and recently released Page & Layout Designer. While it is categorized as low end, that is based on the under $100 price and not on the feature list it includes.

For this review, I sat down with someone still using Adobe Pagemaker even after it has been discontinued for quite some time. I use Adobe InDesign for my layout jobs after using Corel Ventura for more than 20 years.

Our typical workflow included building a layout from scratch and loading in the text created in a word processor or text editor. With Xara Page & Layout Designer, we found it was much better to use one of the many supplied templates (a small number of them are shown at right) as a starting point. Choose a template that is close to what you want and modify it to meet your needs.

When working with page layout, it is very important to have control over the flow and formatting of text. Xara Page & Layout Designer has styles and all the controls we wanted to find for formatting and flowing text.

Text needs to flow from column to column and page to page. Sometimes you need to insert manual column or page breaks to get just the flow you desire. All of that is available and easy to use. Need to number the pages? It is easy to insert page numbers and format them just right.

Manipulating the text is extremely important, but you’ll also want to insert graphics and photos to liven up your designs. A wide variety of graphics and image formats are supported. This allows you to bring in the image or graphic you want, then size and place it in the perfect spot.

Once your document is done, you will need to output it. For those who want an electronic version, both HTML and PDF are well supported. If you need to send the document for printing, it fully supports separations, printers marks and the other elements needed.

All in all, I think you’ll find Xara Page & Layout Designer to be a very solid alternative to the other products in the under $100 market. No, it doesn’t have the power of Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress, though those features are overkill for many users. If you are the least bit unsure, download the free trial and find out if it meets your needs.

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    It should also be noted that: “Xara Designer Pro X9 is our top of the range product and includes all the features and templates of Web Designer 9 Premium, Photo & Graphic Designer 9 and Page & Layout Designer 9 in a fully integrated single package solution for all your graphic design needs, for print and the web. Illustration, photo editing, DTP and document creation, web graphics and websites – Designer Pro X9 does it all!”

    In my opinion, Xara is a powerful and extremely versatile set of applications.

    Diane

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Yep, I read your press release back on July 13. By that time I already had purchased my upgrade copy of Xara Designer Pro X9. I bought my first copy of Xara ‘way back when Corel was marketing it. Over the years I have continued updating both softwares, even though I’m retired now and really don’t need to use either one of them very much. I also have done the same thing with Photoshop Elements. It’s silly but I just can’t imagine being without these apps that I used for so many years.

    I’ve received your daily emails ever since you began sending them, and have enjoyed all the information that you’ve conveyed in them. Before you began sending them, I subscribed (and still do) to your newsletters. Thanks for being there for us.

    Diane

    Reply
  3. Karen

    I would be interested to know what you would still need to turn to Ventura 10 or InDesign for; where is Xara Page & Layout Designer lacking? This review feels more like a “this is great and you should buy it” bit of advertising rather than a critical review. Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful for any review at all — but would like to see a well rounded “cold” look at who might NOT want it as well as who might want it. Thanks!
    Karen

    Reply
  4. Foster D. Coburn III

    Karen,

    First, I personally gave up on Ventura 10 because the company with their name on the product gave up on it. I don’t consider software that has received no updates in 11 years and counting. While it is possible to get Ventura running on Windows 7 and 8, it requires jumping through many hoops.

    The time it takes to put any software through all of the paces to truly compare it and decide if it meets your needs is not something I have the time to do. I presented my general thoughts and I advise any user to take advantage of the free trial to determine if it meets your needs. My needs and your needs may be completely different. For example, my needs involves making large books and I don’t think Xara Page & Layout Designer would be a good choice for that. For someone who doesn’t need book-making capabilities, it could be a great choice.

    Reply
  5. michael in SJ

    First, I do not believe copying a single DLL file from the software install CD to the hard drive constitutes “jumping through many hoops.” Corel Ventura is an old and unsupported piece of software, but it still works just fine under Windows 7 Pro 64bit. I also intend to try to get it working under 8. when I upgrade next month. However, giving up on it because it is no longer being developed or supported seems rather narrow minded. I am sure you would hear a lot of disagreement from people who still actively use the software.

    On the other hand, I too would love to put Ventura to bed for good. It does irritate me that it is no longer developed or supported. I have tried many other alternatives but have yet to find one that works as seamlessly for long technical, graphic-intensive documents, especially those that get repeated or templated for future work. Hearing you refer to the type of documents you produce encourages me to take another look at Xara Page & Layout. That is the sort of comment that goes a long way to helping other people understand your point of view about the software for which you provide an overview and endorse. I don’t think Karen was asking you to provide a review from everyone’s perspective, but substantiate your opinions with some background or examples that explains why you feel it is a good alternative. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Foster D. Coburn III

    Michael, it is quite simple that this product doesn’t meet MY needs in long document production. I switched from Ventura to InDesign several years back. As much of my writing is about CorelDRAW, I needed a way to insert artwork from CorelDRAW. Ventura won’t support newer CDR files and some files were a nightmare in EPS format. Saving things to PDF and placing them in InDesign works great. I leave to readers to test any software for themselves so you’ll have to download the trial of Xara’s product to determine if it meets YOUR needs.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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