capsule review

Xara Designer Pro

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Xara Designer Pro 7 is the super-charged sister to Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. This all-in-one print and Web design tool can edit photos, graphics (including 3D), animation, and page layouts without switching between programs.

In addition to all of the features found in Xara Photo & Graphic Designer--simple and intuitive page layout and Web design utilities, and powerful illustration and photo editing tools that should have Adobe running scared--the $299 Designer Pro 7 offers a few features for the power user: you can place "live copies" of any kind of object in a document (text, images, graphics) which automatically update when one is edited; configure shortcut keys to your own preferences; and have the ability to stitch together and edit any number of images into a flat panorama or web-based 360 degree panorama. Xara Designer Pro also imports HD Photo format (Windows Media Photo), whereas Photo & Graphic Designer does not.

Xara Designer Pro includes all of the features of Xara Web Designer 7 Premium--templates, widget support, hosting, to name a few--in addition to animated flash and .GIF export, navbar and popup creation, sitemaps, and webinar and web presentation support.

The Designer Pro version of the software also adds support for multi-core processors, giving Designer Pro 7 the potential for extremely high-performing and speedy graphics rendering. For those who live in the print world, Designer Pro 7 allows you to preview CMYK separations and spot color plates, emulsion position, and other advanced settings; plus gives you PANTONEĀ® color, PDF/X, and XPS support.

As with other Xara trial versions, all of the features of Designer Pro are fully accessible, however the content pack that includes 421.25 MB of design template files, clip art, and royalty-free images is not available until you purchase the full version.

Xara Designer Pro is as intuitive, economical, and useful as Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and is well worth the upgrade if you know you'll need the additional Web authoring or print production tools: After all, you're still getting a first class product that can go head-to-head with Adobe Creative Suite Standard (a bundle that will set you back about $1,000), for a fraction of the price.

--Clare Brandt

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