Introducing “Xara Designer Pro 7”, all you need to work with graphics!

is the name of a British company which has been living in the shadow of Adobe for many years with its all-in-one graphics application. This version has been around since ARM was a custom chip running a desktop computer called Acorn Risc PC. Perhaps this is a good thing to relate to, as ARM now is properly the most successful chipset around in the world, taking every from Google Cromebooks over Apple iPads, Android “pads”, TV sets and even windows 8 by storm. The same should happen to this graphics application called Designer Pro 7 ! It’s fast, rich featured, easy to use, compatible with other main graphics packages like Adobe Photoshop, it produces SVG, webpages and I could go on! You should at least go and download a free trial from: www.xara.com!

Vector, pixel, , presentation, video, 3D and DTP…

The program has many basic things build into one application, I like that. Everything you create in it is vector based, except of cause if you work with pixel based elements like photos. At my work where I implement websites in CMS systems I use Xara for many types of graphics operations. I might design buttons where I get automated scaled versions which also have mouse hovering and selected states. They are vector based, so scaling them up and down is very easy. I can use theme colors which makes it possible to reuse them on other websites. I can add popup layers to them and links. I simply export it, and produces a HTML page in seconds containing exactly what I need in the CMS system.

At a later state when I need to document the use of the website I can create a manual with working buttons inside it, the same buttons as I just used on the website. I can even export the pages to PDF, giving the customer both an offline manual (PDF) and a full featured HTML website with the documentation.

A webpage with some of the enhancements

See an example of the HTML that Xara Designer Pro 7 can generate

I have collected some of the features on two webpages. They of cause have been created in Xara Designer Pro 7!

Some of the new enhancements

Xara Designer Pro 7 has been packed with a lot of enhancements to the way that you use the program. Many of them relate to the program trying to a more “mainstream” Windows 7 application. For instance the tabbed document windows and the fly-out and docking option for the gallery system. Those enhancements are nice to new users but for me not essential, because I know my way around the application with or without such standard windows 7 UI.

Xara Designer Pro 7 offers new paste options allowing you to paste different properties to objects. If you for instance need one object to have same size as another you simply select the first object which is placed where you want to position both object, press Ctll+C. Now a lot of information from that object is on the clipboard and you can select any other to copy various properties from it onto other objects. In this case, the position. Some of the many paste options which Xara Designer Pro 7 now offers are:

  • Paste replacing selection
  • Paste format/attributes. This will apply relevant attributes from object on clipboard to selected object. For instance color, shadow or opacity.
  • Paste opacity mask. You can use any object as an opacity mask. This for instance allows you to have Text appear as a mask on a photo. Opacity masks in Xara Designer Pro 7 will mask out the object is placed on – black colors will give 100% masking, and white no masking.
  • Paste position; change the position of the selected object to that of that of the object on the clipboard. If however you have several objects on clipboard it gets a little tricky. I experienced that it just moved the object outside the canvas – not logical.

Another great enhancement is the ability to edit groups in a separate window, allowing you to focus on the elements in the group. You simply double click on the group and a new “inside editing window” is opened. I like that feature.

Some of the existing functions have been arranged differently or made easier/quickly to access. For instance the alignment function can now be accessed directly by right clicking on your mouse. Small changes, but I guess that it all adds to Xara Designer Pro 7 being even faster to use.

New features

Live copies – you can have objects where changes to the properties of each copy will apply to all the live copies of the element. Size, rotation, opacity and other properties however will be local to each copy. An interesting new feature which I for one am looking forward to use.

Magic snap – visual help and snapping when aligning objects allows you to create good looking designs much easier. Take a look at this example:

The aligment lines makes it very easy to align elements

The alignment of the text above was easily done, as Xara Designer Pro 7 showed lines indicating where I could align two objects. This makes a design better in balance. What the illustration also shows is that I add a mouse over effect with a popup layer fading in. Xara Designer Pro 7 can save anything which you produce as webpages and in the HTML you can easily add things like mouse over, links, menus, and popups. Xara Designer Pro 7 has added transition effects and other nice things.

Photo magic erase allows you to easily remove elements of a photo in a way which makes look like the element was never there. This is an example of the pixel related editing of Xara Designer Pro 7. It appears to work like similar features in other pixel based application like for instance Adobe Photoshop, but actually it is not working on the original image and you can work with it as if it was vector based changes.

The girl to the left have been ereased using Photo magic erease

As you can see below the way that Xara Designer Pro 7 created the magic erase effect was in fact to slice out part of the photo and fill it with pixels making the element disappear. I have selected the slice, added a glow shadow (which can be added to any element in Xara Designer Pro 7! and is editable at any time) and applied opacity. You can then see through the sliced element and the diapered part of the original picture is again visible.

Xara Designer Pro 7 actually just adds a sliced vector element on top of the original photo to create the magic erease effect

And a lot more…

Many other things have been added especially to the HTML part of Xara Designer Pro 7. I suggest that you see the videos and press F1 (Yes, windows help – it’s okay to use it!). Locate the “What’s new in Xara Designer Pro 7?” and spend some time reading it and seeing the examples. I simply could not find the time here to mention all of them. But a short list of new features I can offer:

  • More widgets. Facebook, Google maps,

New to Xara Designer Pro? Some advices for you…

If you have not tried previous versions of Xara Designer Pro you have a lot to look forward to! Of cause there will be a learning curve, but just visit some of the many online resources – I have listed some of them below. Actually this is one of the areas where I find that Xara is taking good care of its customers – take this statement for instance:

From e-mail: “Information about Xara Designer Pro 7” which you receive when you have registered your Xara product.

“Don’t miss the intro movies on our website (or click the Movies option in the Help menu). There are over 100 movies covering features and techniques and they are a great place to start learning about Designer Pro.”

Do not hesitate to ask “stupid” questions on the various talkgraphics.com forums – we were all beginners at one time

Open and take a look at all the examples included in the gallery:

Many great examples can be downloaded - be inspired by them!

An example is this extreme drawing, all vectors:

Find this example vector drawing and try to zoom deep (around 28000%) to view what is hiding in the drawing

Remember that any drawing you do can contain pages, layers, objects which can all be exported to various formats, including complete HTML pages, PDF files, Adobe PSD files, SVG. You can publish directly to an FTP site. You have unlimited undo/redo, auto save (backup). The undo/redo history is saved together with your document. Xara is extremely good at packing its files – I have tried to load a JPEG (from Adobe) into Xara Designer Pro and save it, leading to file size much smaller than the original JPEG file!

You also get a lot of “free” fonts and clipart, website templates and ready-to-use elements like buttons and navigation elements. Xara supports many color modes, from HEX to CMYK and Pantone. You can create serious print related output including color separation handling. You can easily use Xara Design Pro 7 as a DTP program! The advanced way you can let text flow from textboxes to textboxes and around object is so cool. And yes it works fine if you export your work into a webpage! Xara produces valid HTML and will not change your text into graphics! Oh and for us website developers: Ctrl+Shift+L will give you instant Lorem Ipsum text I love it!

I know it’s nerded: but build in Lorem Ipsum is a feature well worth mentions:

Ad veniam ad minim aliquip, voluptate cupidatat. Sint ex velit in. Sunt enim pariatur sit non, dolore, ut occaecat consequat non ad non aute ullamco sed aute excepteur. Enim dolore exercitation ex nisi cupidatat culpa.

Navigation bar builder making it very easy to construct navigations bars:

The Navigation Bar tool

Two panorama creating tools – the build simple and the advanced Magix PanoramaStudio 2. Here is a simple example from Aarhus, Denmark. Only 4 images were used.

The Magix PanoramaStudio 2 in action

The Magix PanoramaStudio 2 can even generate an interactive panorama using and HTML. The above view can be seen online here: Aarhus, Denmark

I could go on… But visit the links below to see good tutorials!

Conclusion

With the release of Xara Designer Pro 7 the world’s best one-in-one graphic package have just gotten closer to being perfect! As we all know nothing is perfect, so I can’t call it perfect. There is still room for improvements, but the history tells that Xara is listening to its users, and follow trends in the world surrounding the Xara world. With internet being a very powerful media to communicate and emerging technologies like the CANVAS element of HTML5 and the powerful features of CSS3, my guess is that Xara Designer Pro 8 when it comes will be much more focused on bringing content to the new taking into account things like CSS3 based gradients, round corners, custom fonts and transitions. The current version Xara Designer Pro 7 have put a lot of effort into this, and to Xara Designer Pro 7 super users who understand this application and all it offers like Wizards for internet the sky is the limit.

Every time – actually ever since my first version of Xara Designer called Artworks – I have shown people this application to my friends they have been blown away and impressed by its abilities, features, ease of use and speed. Nothing has changed there in Xara Designer Pro 7 – everything has just gotten even more smart and nice to use!

I think that Xara Designer Pro 7 deserves even more attention, and I would like to end where I started: I hope that Xara Designer Pro 7 like the ARM chip will get the deserved success in the years to come! I am looking forward to seeing the Xara Designer Pro run on an ARM based Windows 8, bringing the old palls together again!

 

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10 thoughts on “Introducing “Xara Designer Pro 7”, all you need to work with graphics!

  1. Now if only the program had a grammar and spelling check, it would be perfect… Except for your obvious language struggles, nice review! Adobe has gotten far too much publicity on the back of Jasc and now Corel. Paint Shop Pro was so much easier to use for the novice, way back when, and nows in its superbly advanced evolutionary stage needs to be pushed out the front door and onto the streets to let those less fortunate adobe abused souls, there IS something MUCH easier and FAR LESS EXPENSIVE than the mud empire’s pocket. (mud… adobe… bad pun)

  2. Hi English Visitor.
    I am sorry for the poor grammar – I have taken the post through a spell checker now, hope it helped.
    /Sten

  3. Hi Netsi,

    Xara Designer Pro 7 is indeed a fantastic, user friendly, fast and capable program, well worth looking into as an alternative professional design tool.

    Would you consider adding http://newbie2webdesigner.com to your list of resources? It’s a website built with Xara Web Designer 7 Premium and is dedicated to assisting aspiring web designers in designing and publishing their websites with Xara software (Designer Pro &/or Web Designer)

    Jonathan

  4. Hi Jonathan
    Thank you for your comment and the link to your website! The site works well, not only as a place containing resources for people learning to create a website, but also as an example of a site created using Xara Designer Pro 7! I have linked to it above (http://newbie2webdesigner.com/)

    /Sten

  5. Eu gostei do xara mais a só um problema nele… eu gostaria que o xara não dependesse de outros programa. mas abrisse dodos os formatos de programa q não têm a ver com ele.
    eu quis que o xara abrisse o formato do corelDrow
    e não dependesse do photo shop para trablhar as imagens se fazerem isto garanto que sera mesmo o melhor programa de vetorização e tratamento de imagem do mercado…..
    obrigado xara Eduardo vida

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