While Xara Xtreme may appear to be a vector-based application, it can easily be turned towards creating content for the web and exporting simple Flash or GIF animations. And because of its straightforward navigation and a useful library of tutorial movies, newcomers will find it a joy to use. Experienced web professionals and photo editors, however, may find its feature set limited.

Xara Xtreme Pro's range of pen, brush and shaping tools are similar to those found in other image-editing applications. However, these are ingeniously designed and enable the simple and automated creation of soft shadows, bevels and contours. Bolt on a graphics tablet and you can add pressure-sensitive brush stroking. Besides the mass of fonts and clip art, you get strong Photoshop plug-ins and such free Live Effects as 3D bump maps and shadow effects.

Vector-based capabilities make it easy to replicate the same design online, even if the web-based graphics facilities aren't the most advanced out there. It does support multipage documents though, and industry standard formats such as Photoshop PSD and PDF files can be imported and exported. However, while you can manipulate photos with Xara Xtreme, its tools are fairly basic.

A clutter-free Workspace is central to Xara's success, enabling users to focus on their artwork and use its tools easily. Further windows can be added to the interface by selecting gallery icons from the toolbar; these can now be docked to the workspace. For a simply laid out, user-friendly program we were impressed with the library of effects and tools Xara had to offer, even though its more basic animation features let it down.

Xara Xtreme Pro: Specs

  • 500MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 100MB hard disk space
  • 500MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 100MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Xara Xtreme Pro is an affordable, well-laid out and productive package, with photo-editing, vector-based illustration and basic Flash animation capabilities. The program demands only a small amount of memory and allows professional results to be achieved easily, thanks to its time-saving tools.

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