Xara has released a new version of their Designer Pro software. Below is the press release with details of new features and changes. We’ll have a review after we’ve had time to give it a test drive.
New Release Xara Designer Pro X365
This new release of Xara Designer Pro X contains major enhancements for both web and graphic design, including significant improvements to Xara Online Designer, and a new delivery model that gives access to new updates as they happen in the 365 days after purchase.
Xara’s popular Designer Pro X is 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. By combining all 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.
The photo editing tools have been enhanced with two new W3C standard transparency blend modes and a new ultra-easy way to rotate, scale / pan and crop (which is great for horizon straightening). The photo editor provides vector based, editable, non-destructive photo editing so the user can return to the original image at any time.
Applying popular effects to photos is quick and easy with the new Photo Filter Pre-sets. There are almost 30 of these ready-made effects in the Content Catalog. Users can also create some dramatic contrast and saturation effects with the new Cross Process Photo Effects that simulate a traditional photographic effect created by mixing up the chemicals. The Effect Painter tool is a new way to paint effects directly on the photo, such as, brighten, dodge and burn, saturation changes and a growing range of other effects.
There are two new types of photo grids. ‘Static’ Photo Grids are simple, fixed, visually attractive grids of photos onto which users can drag & drop their own photo. ‘Smart’ Photo Grids smartly resize to fill the rectangles as photos are added or deleted, and users can swap the positions of the photos, adjust the number of rows and columns and the border / gap between all the photos.
The Xara SmartShapes are an amazingly quick and easy way to create and edit some of the most commonly required shapes. Xara has also evolved this concept to include more complex objects, such as smart charts for percentage ring, bar chart and column charts. There are new smart text panels and photo panels and an enhanced version of the popular Spiral SmartShape.
Flexible text handling is one of the strengths of Xara Designer Pro X, yet Xara has still found room for some improvements. The popular Font Awesome collection of symbols has been updated, and is now supplemented by a collection of Google Material Design Icons providing more than 1500 symbols in total. To find the required symbol there’s a quick search function. Xara Designer Pro X symbols can be inserted as editable vector graphics, or inserted inline into text as a font (where they are automatically placed in a subset of symbols used, converted to WOFF and included in the website HTML).
For Web Designers there are new Parallax scrolling effects, 30 types of scrolling animation, plus 40 new ‘on reveal’ animation types. The popular ‘sticky’ feature has also been enhanced, so that items such as NavBars can scroll and stick to the top of the window when they reach it.
Web designers also benefit from 9 new general website themes and 166 Business theme sets that were previously sold for $15 each set (a total value of nearly $2500).
Xara Designer Pro X includes the cloud-based editor, Xara Online Designer. This gives Web designers the unique ability to edit their document both offline or online and sync their files with Dropbox, Google GDrive and Microsoft OneDrive. Furthermore, it gives commercial designers the option to enable their clients to update their own website to edit text and replace photos. Client access is free.
Xara Online Designer is evolving rapidly with planned enhancements (which will be released under the Update Service) including more editing controls such as colour, transparency, stack order, smart snap and SmartShapes.
Xara Designer Pro X includes an upgrade to ‘Website M’ hosting, free for one year (worth $1.99 a month). This includes 2GBytes of free web hosting space and one free domain name (e.g. yourname.com).
Xara’s Update Service means that users will no longer have to wait a year between releases to access new features and content. Users will have access to new features and content as Xara develop them, at any time during the year after their purchase. An enhanced Online Content Catalog will also be included free for one year as part of Xara’s new Update Service. The catalog will provide access to a new library of over 500,000 quality royalty-free, high quality, high-resolution stock photos, provided under a CC0 license.
Charles Moir, Managing Director said “This release of Xara Designer Pro represents a significant change for us as we move away from yearly releases to a more regular release cycle. So features that we develop 3 or 6 months from now, which would traditionally not be available until the 2017 release will now be included in this year’s product.
Although Xara Designer Pro 365 includes a component of online services that are subscription, (hosting, domain name, Online Designer) it’s important to understand this is not a subscription product in the way that Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud are. With Designer 365 you purchase the program which is yours to keep, and it will remain functional even if you do not renew or upgrade. We think this is a fundamentally better deal for customers.
There are also significant new features in this release plus completely cost and royalty-free, searchable libraries of stock photos and stock vector illustrations and 166 Business theme sets worth $2500 that previously sold for $15 each set.”
Xara Designer Pro X365 costs $299
Upgrades from v11 to Xara Designer Pro X365 cost $99
System requirements are Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 and it requires a minimum 500MB of RAM and 300MB hard-disk space.