At the top of Xara’s product portfolio is Xara Designer Pro. Below is a press release with details on the newly released Xara Designer Pro X11. Once I’ve had time to work with the latest version, I’ll post a review.
Xara announce a new release, Xara Designer Pro X11, the ultimate all-in-one creative software, that provides powerful vector illustration, photo editing, page layout and website design, in one unrivalled WYSIWYG design tool.
Most creative design work for page and website design consists of arranging content on the page, typically a combination of illustration, text and photos. By combining these tools in one program, Xara Designer Pro achieves faster performance with no program switching, lower memory and computing requirements, an easier learning curve, higher productivity and significantly better value for money.
Illustration and Graphic Design
Designer Pro has one of the most powerful vector design engines at its heart, and this release brings new vector-based Art Brushes, offering real time ‘painting’ of complex vector or bitmap brush designs along an editable freehand vector path. A range of realistic textured brushes are included. In addition there are vector shape processing plug-ins to manipulate vector shapes and lines (third party API to be published later). The Transparency Tool introduces five new W3C standard, web-safe and PDF-safe blend modes. New plug-ins include a Spiral SmartShape tool.
Xara Designer Pro X11 has some great new features for creating state-of-the-art contemporary websites. With one click objects can be stuck to any given place in the browser window while the content scrolls under. This is very useful for ‘sticky’ social icons or a permanent navigation bar across the top of the screen. Website designs with no obvious page boundary are now very popular so Xara make it easy to stretch rectangle backgrounds and photos to fill the browser width.
New web animation tools make it super-easy to make objects animate (in a variety of styles) on mouse-over, click and even when an object first comes into view. This ‘reveal’ animation takes advantage of HTML5 animation features. Users can now use any font on their computer and Designer Pro X11 will automatically create a WOFF font that is compatible with all modern browsers. This is in addition to the integrated Google Font picker that provides nearly 700 fonts.
Xara Designer Pro is a ‘design focussed’ website creation tool and does all of this with no HTML hacking, programming, scripting or CSS. The focus is on the design, not on the technical.
Xara Designer Pro X11 can publish to any web hosting provider (which now includes FTP and SFPT options). But for those who do not want to use third party web hosting Xara includes 2GBytes of free web-hosting space, which also enables password protection for web pages.
There are new and improved text features including advanced hyphenation controls, to give higher quality text layout; new auto-correct options for faster text creation; text background colour controls and document-wide font search & replace. The new text wrap options for inline graphics and automatic scaling of inline graphics make it easy to do major site-wide column width changes which is perfect for multi-column work or ‘mobile-friendly’ responsive website design. Further improvements to PDF import and export make Xara Designer Pro X11 one of the most powerful PDF editing tools available.
Online File Syncing in the Cloud
Xara Designer Pro X11 has the ability to sync files via Dropbox and Google Drive (OneDrive coming soon). So if a user has the same file open on multiple computers (or shared with other users), saved edits will be automatically updated on the other computers with that file open.
Xara Online Designer
Xara is developing a new, ultra-high performance (60fps scroll and zoom) online editor. Included in Xara Designer Pro X11 is a beta release that is limited to text and photo replacement. It provides an easy way to view, edit and update the content of Xara documents and websites using a web browser on any computer or tablet (Mac, iPad or Android tablet) from anywhere in the world.
Xara Online Designer offers an accurate WYSIWYG editing interface with a hi-fidelity page representation, including accurate fonts and page layout. Drag and drop photo replacement, along with high performance scrolling and zoom, and one-click re-publishing. For commercial web designers this provides a way that their clients can edit text and replace images using the simplest possible web browser interface (without messing up the design!). The designer gets the edits and updated pictures automatically synced to their master .xar file on their computer. It is dramatically simpler than WordPress or other CMS systems.
Charles Moir, Managing Director, said; “Unlike other website creation solutions that require some degree of technical ability, Xara make it easy for designers so that they can focus on the design and content and not on the programming aspects. This may be compared with the creation of print documents or PDFs, where designers don’t have to learn PDF scripting or mark-up language. This release brings new illustration features, new page and text layout features with faster and easier ways to create really modern websites. We’re also giving users the first taste of Xara Online Designer, a cloud-based document editor that’s faster, easier to use and is a universal web app that’s touch and tablet friendly.”
Xara Designer Pro X11 costs just $299 with upgrades from $99 (this is the launch offer for v10 owners, and the cheapest way to buy it)
It operates on Windows Vista 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 and requires a minimum 500MB of RAM and 300MB of hard disc space.