I always look forward to graphic software updates and the Xara Designer Pro X 365 release is no exception. First of all, the 365 designation is Xara’s version of subscription based program updates and access to content additions for one full year after your date of purchase. Your software is functional after that year, but updates and features are not available after your year is up. I am not a fan of update via subscriptions, but it is the trend now & hard to get around these days. Often overlooked is that when working with new software, is there adequate documentation so a new user can get up to speed quickly? Xara excels in this, from the comprehensive help incorporated in the program to the online tutorials available.
Much graphics work done here at Unleashed Productions is either creating Web graphics or altering graphics for other uses from Web based sources. Editing, enhancing and prepping photos/bitmap images is made easy with Xara Designer Pro X. One feature that really shines is the Magnetic Lasso mask. It’s possibly one of the easiest to use versions of this tool that’s found in many photo editing packages. It’s accurate and gets the job done quickly. Cropping images pulls up guidelines that delineates the cropped area using the photographic “Rule of Thirds” and a nice feature.
The Online Content Catalog now features a Search box to make finding content faster. You can simply type what you’re looking for in the search window and everything categorized will appear. If you wish to filter a search, simply click on the category, such as Stock Photos, to narrow your search. A wealth of formerly premium Web templates, Xara included clip art, widgets and much more are now part of the package. Impressive is the addition of the Pixabay Stock Photo and Image library that contains high quality photos and vector graphics. To test how extensive this was, I searched for something obscure – borzoi – and the search found several nice photos of Russian Wolfhounds. Pretty cool. One downside is depending on the speed of a user’s Internet connection, the search process can be slow.
However, an important change was made to the Designs Gallery. The local Designs Gallery now only contains Content Gallery content that has been downloaded to your computer. Even though you can only download one item at a time from the Content Catalog, once downloaded, you do not need to do so again.
On the vector drawing side, a favorite is the Shape Painting tool. Draw a simple rectangle, pick the tool then customize the tool to alter your object by either pushing or retracting the object edge boundaries. The resulting object remains a vector object, with all the benefits that come with vector based artwork.
Text handling is improved with a new Advanced Text Bar that displays much like standard text formatting info bars found with most word processing packages.
Wrap up: Xara Designer Pro X 365 is one of the best values on the graphics market. Everyone from seasoned designers to the novice will find more than enough features to create high quality professional artwork. The productivity range built into the software allows creation of stunning print items, fantastic Web sites with ever so important mobile variant design capabilities, expert photo editing and quality presentations. As the most comprehensive of the Xara graphics offerings, Xara Designer Pro X 365 is a must have in your graphics toolbox.