Today we will take a look at a photo editor that believes it is better than the current market leaders. And I think it is a pretty powerful piece of software. Called Xara Xtreme Pro, it comes to us from London and offers an interesting combination of the best of Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and Flash in one easy-to-use package.
Since this is a review for a web designer, we will only focus on the features that will help someone in creating web-ready graphics. The app is strong for illustration and desktop publishing but that is better covered by someone who has more experience than I in these areas.
Let’s start with the Flash capabilities. Over the years, I have reviewed Flash versions as well as worked with flash designers and developers. Let’s be honest… Flash is not a program that you can pick up in a day. Creating nice looking, smooth animations (even basic ones) takes a lot of time and effort and patience. With Xara Xtreme Pro, creating flash animations is very easy. Basically all you need to do is create the key frames (those that are in the states you want) and Xara creates all of the inbetween frames to make the flash movie smooth.
On the web graphics side, Xara does a good job of making sure your files are saved in the most optimal format for quick downloading by your users. That is one of the things I don’t like in Photoshop. There is a save as/save for web option but which is the best for this specific graphic? JPG?PNG?GIF? Xara takes care of it for you. I was able to create some nice looking buttons and they looked pretty professional. Of course I am not a designer so they were not perfect, but good enough for an average personal web site.
Lastly, the photo editing capabilities are good. I compare them to Paint Shop Pro in its ease of edit. Crop, Rotate, Resize, color, red eye, etc. are all included as is the ability to add text, borders, shadows.
So how do I sum up Xara Xtreme Pro? Easy. It’s a mashup. They have the best features of Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, Flash and Paint Shop Pro together in a package for $199. Will it replace these other tools? No. Design houses will probably stick to the status quo. But for either someone who wants to get into design, a freelancer or independent designer, this is a perfect solution for them. Especially since you can import and export from the other guys mentioned. The only other negative is that there is no Mac version. Since most designers use a Mac, they are losing the opportunity to switch these users to Xara. So I think many of the pro designers will be out in terms of customer base. But if you use Windows you are in luck. They offer a 30-day demo so give that a try and post a comment in the forum about your experiences with the tool.
Here are some screenshots from Xara Xtreme Pro:
Photoshop, Illustrator, Paint Shop Pro
Excellent combination of print design and layout along with robust web design features.
No Mac Support
For $200, it’s worth a try. Because everything is in one environment, you will save time and money.