Looking at Xara Web Designer 11 Premium

It’s been years since I last used Xara Web Designer, as I have changed from PC to MAC. I am a front-end developer and it seems that in my line of work a Mac is a better place to be.

One field where I for a long period really missed some PC software, was on the vector drawing package area. I was so happy for the software from Xara Ltd, including Xara Web Designer, and every time I needed to draw something for a website I felt handicapped.

I tried to install Xara Web Designer on a virtual pc, I tried to have it installed on another PC, I tried the (deprecated?) free Xara for Linux but none of the setups really worked for me.

Finding “Xara for Mac”

I knew that Adobe Illustrator was big on Mac, but also very expensive and not “my cup of tea”. That idea was quickly dropped.
I then tried some different apps, and after some trying out I installed Sketch 3. The price was okay, only $99, and it had the main option I was looking for: SVG import and export. SVG is really the vector graphic format for the web, and something which is a must-support feature in 2015.

I was missing many features in Sketch 3 compared to Xara Web Designer (XWD), however the simple interface also somehow was a nice thing. Every element was a visible object in the layer panel, and made it easy to work with it – something which you also get on XWD.

A note: a clean sheet

Come to think of it, I think that it is relevant to note that I somehow moved to a mental state of mind where I had to start from the scratch – when it came to expectations for a designer app. I had to have open eyes and not always compare every new app with Xara Web Designer from my PC-time. From now on I had a clean sheet, I did not compare features like “that is not as I would normally do it in XWD“. That perspective also made me forget what I loved most in XWD (though not 100% possible to think like that, some features from XWD I really miss still).

Next step: Affinity Designer

Some time in spring 2015 I saw a new Designer app for OS X: Affinity Designer. At first I was in doubt: Was that Xara for Mac? I installed the app and found some similarities, but no – not Xara for Mac.
However that designer app has for now pushed out Sketch 3, as it is very fast and has some brilliant features for me as a front-end developer.

Like on XWD the Zoom levels are simply stunning and fast. Also the option to work in different modes, like vector and “export mode” (pixel) is really useful. I really like that app, and before Xara lands a product on Mac, I will be using Affinity Designer.

Some notable differences

When I come to think of it, I have a picture which I think explains well how I see the differences between the PC Xara Web Designer and the OS X Affinity Designer.

Do you remember years back before the net, where you properly spend more time listning to music?

 

Anyway, at that time everyone needed a hi-fi setup where they could listen to records, LPs and cassettes (perhaps even CDs!).
Some people went for the one-device-with-all, like a device that had a LP player on top, a build in amplifier with FM radio and a casette player in one. Easy choice: buy one and get it all. That is Xara Web Designer: You get it all in one package – a Swiss knife.

Other people bought several devices: A LP player, an amplifier, CD player, a tuner and cassette player and arranged them in a rack.
Guess that the idea was to get “the best” for each part, to be able to handpick each device to fit your needs. That is the Affinity Designer choice: it is a specialized product.

Let me remind you that none of the above is “the perfect choice” – each fits a specific need. However if you get Xara Web Designer you will get a big package offering you a lot of features, which offers a wide range of features. Of cause you will need to spend a lot of time before you can use all the parts of the Swiss knife.

Why use Xara Web Designer, if you are a Mac user?

As I started out – finding arguments and a good workflow on Mac for running a Window based Xara Web Designer is hard.
There is no doubt however that Xara Web Designer is a great piece of software which offers features not found on any Mac app.

For instance the option to build complete, easy to publish websites in your vector app is unique in Xara Web Designer.

With the release of Xara web Designer 11 Permium (which is the version I tested, you can find other versions on xara.com), even more optimization has been done in it, and even more features have been added to the Swiss knife!

Conclusion

If Xara was to release a native version for Mac I would be one of the first to install it on my OSX computer! No doubt!

Testing Xara Web Designer 11 Permium on a Windows 7 running on the iMac of my daughter gives me smile on my face, and makes me happy.
Keep up the great work Xara! You are the best – but unfortunally not on my current platform :-(

I will keep following you, and please land a version on OS X!!

Some cool features of Xara Web Designer 11 Premium

– Speed
– SVG export works great
– Easy to create responsive website
– A great number of features
– Great price
– A solid product building on many experiences from previous versions

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