Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7 review

Price when reviewed

Direct painting is out, but Xara does offer some surprisingly advanced bitmap capabilities, including the new content-aware delete. Simply mark up the area you want to remove from your image with the Clone tool, hit the Magic Erase command and Xara will analyse surrounding areas and try to seamlessly remove it. The technology and processing is certainly impressive, but it’s debatable how often the capability will prove useful, and it certainly makes more sense in Photoshop than it does in Xara.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7

Far more useful is Xara’s text handling, which comes complete with DTP-style reflowing columns and text blocks. The biggest improvements here are to the handling of anchored graphics, which allow you to create anchored objects with a single click and constrain movement vertically – ideal for adding linked graphics outside the text column. For embedded graphics, meanwhile, you can “repel” text to create wraparound effects and independently specify margins for width and height.

With such powerful text handling and multi-page support, Xara 7 can produce design-rich publications, and it has the output options to go with them. For commercial print, Xara boasts both PDF and EPS output; both have been enhanced in this version. Multi-page support is also key to Xara’s ability to create frame-based animations for vector-based Flash output, and this has been enhanced with an export option to AVI video.

Xara has one more ace up its sleeve: its advanced HTML and CSS-based export, which allows the program to be used for creating small, self-contained, high-impact websites. Xara certainly isn’t a replacement for a dedicated code-based authoring package such as Dreamweaver, but there’s enough power on offer to produce surprisingly impressive results. The biggest advances here are the ability to preview your pages full-screen, complete with Forward, Back and Home buttons, and one-click access to any installed browser.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7

Like Real-Draw Pro, Xara takes full advantage of its integrated vector and bitmap handling to offer plenty of creativity and control. However, while Real-Draw Pro stands out for producing bitmap-based artistic illustrations, Xara lets you take its extraordinary creative engine in many more directions: graphic design, photo-editing, commercial print, electronic publishing, animation and website authoring. As such, while Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 7 costs more than Real-Draw, it’s more of a bargain.


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

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