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  Xara X
XARA X is an advanced graphic illustration package for Windows, that offers unrivalled speed and a user interface which other developers have tried to imitate, but never matched. Producing illustrations is quick and easy using the sophisticated drawing tools, but many of the advanced features which Xara pioneered - such as transparency and real-time anti-aliasing - can be applied to both vector and bitmap images. - (Xara)

The very first thing I looked for when first opening the program, was what file formats it supports. Hey, they are all here! All of the common file formats used by graphic artists for print to web designers are all supported and easily exported. The documentation states that it keeps file sizes small upon export especially for web use. I really played with that quite a bit, being in the web industry. Although it did have adequite file sizes, I did find it to be rather inconsistant in it's file sizes. One time it would be an excellent compression, on a similiar graphic it would be considerably higher. Keep in mind that this is the first time I was able to use this program and may not have been totally up on the 'ins and outs' of exporting with XARA,

The next thing I looked at was the tools of course. What can I build? How can I build it? The tools are very similiar to Corel Draw, seeing that's where the programs roots came from. All of the basic tools are there. There is one little feature that impressed me though. It's a small thing, but I found it to be very handy. The usual tools one would use to resize, rotate and skew can easily be toggled back and for by simply clicking on the selection. No more searching for common tools. Changing colors of selections is a snap. Simply click on or drag and drop a color or attribute onto your selected item. Couldn't be easier.

Transperancy in Vector graphics? Yes, actually. It is actually very well done too. Some really neat effects can be done mixing vector with bitmap images and using transperancy as well. Actually I could go on and on about the tools and probably should, but space is limited. Some other great tools available are the blend, drop shadow, moulds, bevels, contour and feathering. Check out www.xara.com for more info on the tools.

Of course text is also handled superbly by XARA. All of the usual features such as applying text to paths etc. are there. Visual attributes of text can also be changed by simply dragging and dropping any of the many brush styles and presets available. Brush styles and other presets can easily be designed and saved as well.

There is so much to cover with this program, but something as a web designer that I really want to touch on is it's integration with Macromedia's web authouring enviroment. Now any image you make in Xara X can be exported in .swf format, which can then be imported into a Flash movie and animated. Because the graphic is in the Flash format, it remains scalable, so you can resize it and manipulate it within Flash without losing any quality. Using Xara X to create images for use in Flash adds a new level to the quality of animations you will be able to produce. Xara X has a special option when exporting an image in a web format (gif, jpeg or png) which saves some extra information used by Dreamweaver, along with the graphic. Then, when you're making a web page in Dreamweaver, you can insert the graphic as normal, but if you want to edit it at any point, just click on the image and Xara X will automatically load up with the graphic open.

Web graphics are becoming more and more important to graphic designers and XARA doesn't leave them out. The program also handles many of the common tasks for web designers. Xara X not only slices and saves the images for you, it also writes all the necessary HTML too, so you can just copy it into your web page. When assigning a web address to an object you have the option to make the hotspot fit the object exactly or roughly outline the area with a rectangle which can produce much less code than a complex shape. You also get the option to select where the link should point to - to a new window, the current frame, the parent frame and so on.

The program takes up an amazingly small amount of hard drive real estate as well. This program is a very strong rival to Corel Draw and in my own opinion is well ahead in the race. With a price being a fraction of Corel Draw and the output possibilities being almost endless (see screenshots for example graphics), you definately cannot go wrong with XARA X! I have to admit I have not heard of the program before reviewing it, but I have now and feel it is definately one to tell the masses about!

Review ID Number: 326
  Product Details
Xara
Review Date: 2001-07-27
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 9 out of 10
 
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  Photos / Screenshots
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