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Review of Xara X, drawing and illustration software

BRIEFLY: Powerful and versatile graphics program with great Web optimisation tools

PROS: Fast, powerful, uncluttered interface, great value

CONS: Quirky pressure sensitive tools



PRICE: $149


Powerful vector graphics program
Review by urban75 for Internet Magazine, May 2003

Xara X is an advanced graphics illustration package that could well prove to be the perfect all-in-one solution for many Web authors.

Immediately impressing, with its blindingly fast screen redraws, real time anti-aliasing and intuitive interface, this is a sophisticated and powerful package that excels in both print and Web production.

Xara vector graphics program screenshot Unlike the fiddly and confusing interfaces of some rival programs, Xara X should instantly win friends with its drag and drop simplicity and lean and mean approach - the whole package weighs in at a mere 8 Mb.

The program may be light to download but it's not short of features, offering a comprehensive range of tools that match, and even surpass, more expensive illustration packages.

The core of the program is a set of advanced vector tools that let you control transparency, interactive blends, multi-stage graduated colour fills and more.


But it's the Web stuff we're really interested in, and Xara delivers the goods here too, coming stuffed to the gills with a host of tools for authoring and optimising top-notch graphics for the Web.

Xara vector graphics program screenshot Xara helps you squeeze your graphics down with intelligent controls for colour depth, palette, dithering and transparency.

You can see the effect of changes in real time or previewed in a browser window containing full image info and download speeds for different connections.

The Frame Gallery serves up an impressive set of controls for creating animated GIFs, while a straightforward image map editor lets you allocate 'hot spots' to graphics.

The Button Bar tool helps you create JavaScript rollover effects for menus by automatically slicing up your graphics and generating the necessary HTML code.

Image slices can be individually optimised, ensuring the fastest possible download.

Xara X also supports a huge range of export formats, including JPEGs, PNGs, GIFs, animated GIFs, static Flash, TIF, Illustrator, Corel Draw and BMP. Dreamweaver fans will also like the fact that they can fire up Xara from within the program, making quick graphic edits easy.


The verdict

Xara X is simply one of the most versatile and powerful vector graphics programs around, and its strong set of graphic optimisation tools make it a package that no Web designer should overlook.

The price is made even more reasonable with the free CD, which includes templates, clipart, photos, texture fills, fonts and a set of excellent tutorial movies that make up some of the best help files in the business.


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