Review of Xara Designer Pro X11

October 23, 2015

Back in July, I shared information on the latest release of Xara Designer Pro X11 in New Release: Xara Designer Pro X11, Creative Software with Online Editing. Now that I’ve spent time with the software, it is time to share my thoughts.

xara-pro11_box-350If you’ve used Xara products in the past, you’ll be able to get going quickly as everything will seem familiar. Xara Designer Pro X11 combines the features found in Web Designer, Photo & Graphic Designer and Page & Layout Designer.

Rather than purchase the individual products, go ahead and get Xara Designer Pro X11 as it is the best value by far. For those who truly only need a subset of features, the other products may be the best solution. After using the product, the speed is still impressive as has always been the case with Xara products. Considering all this software application is asked to do, quick artwork manipulation effects and viewing changes as you make them makes WYSIWYG graphics a reality.

xara-11-content-catalogWhen starting up, the content catalog, introduced in Xara Web Designer 10, is my first stop. It’s easy to see the new templates included because they mark them as new right on the catalog title. When you have so many great templates to pick, it’s a nice touch to easily find the latest and greatest. In this version, many of the templates included were previously only available with an additional purchase of templates only. There is a vast array of new templates for whatever you need to design—print, web, vector, page layout, etc.

xara-11-brush-01

xara-11-brush-02

I was really curious to try the new Art Brush features. They are impressive! With Xara’s innovations, these will be a must use tool in the future. There are a wealth of preset brushes included that you access via the FX toolbar button. A really great feature is that if a brush is not quite to your liking, you can quickly modify the brush on the fly to make it exactly what you want. You can save modifications as new brushes and you have the option to create custom brushes using any type of object.

xara-11-photo-effects

The Photolooks 2 plug-in was bundled with v10 and is included again with v11. Photolooks is a powerful and flexible plug-in (previously sold by Red Giant for $199!) that changes the way you approach color photos. It includes over 100 presets, but you can easily manipulate color and light to create custom effects. The photo “heal” function is awesome for cleaning up photos quickly & beautifully.

New Blend Modes and Transparency Types

W3C standard, web-safe and PDF-safe blend modes in the Transparency worked as expected. Bleach and Stained Glass were renamed to “Multiply” and “Screen” to match industry standards.

Liquify Shape Editing Tools

Fans of the Shape Painter Tool will love the extra flexibility offered by a new selection of vector shape editing tools (in the drop down list in the Shape Painter InfoBar).

Page Design and Text Handling

A new hyphenation option was added which automatically breaks long words at line ends to give a more flowing appearance to text and fit more words into defined space.

You can now make your own list of abbreviations that will be automatically expanded as you type. It’s great for symbols too – for example you might set up “yen” to render ¥.

There is a text background color option so you can easily highlight words. Want to easily replace one font with another throughout a document? That’s been added as well which is especially useful for replacing missing fonts in imported PDFs.

‘Update style to match’ option is useful for copying styles from another document or applying styles to unstyled documents, particularly imported PDFs.
Update of the Font Awesome Symbols (a quick & easy way to insert symbols from the large and growing Font Awesome selection. The full set is displayed via the Insert menu.

Overall Thoughts

It is very smart of Xara to roll out this all inclusive program that really beefs the Web design focus. As the world goes “paperless” it is important to have options for multi use/device/presentation formats with a strong Web emphasis. All elements are needed to create Web/online ready artwork then Web elements that are quick to produce then ready to distribute & doesn’t scream amateur. It’s great software!

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