From autumn 2005, this review of Xara Xtreme is one of several that I've done of the different Xara graphics products over recent years.
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Xara is well known for their graphics programs, including tools like Xara 3d that let amateur web designers create buttons and logos with ease. Xara Xtreme 2 is a vector and bitmap graphics package. Users familiar with their X1 vector graphics package (reviewed PCW 2004) will feel quite at home, though those who have used other tools might find that the Xara interface takes a little getting used to. For example, to add a drop shadow, you don't pick the angle of illumination as in other programs; you just click the drop shadow button and drag the shadow where you want it. Other tools work similarly - it's very easy, once you've worked out how they behave, but we did have to resort to the manual a few times, and we'd still prefer flyout options for fills, for instance, instead of a button on the left, and options at the top of the screen.
The package is speedy, and it's very easy to do things like wrap text along a line, or merge objects in multiple steps; new features include the ability to export as PDFs, alongside a wide range of other formats, and a Photo Editor which can be used standalone, or from within Xtreme; it adds red eye removal; there's support for Photoshop plug-ins as well.
There's a wide range of galleries, with textures and fills downloadable over the internet, which saves cluttering the disk with things you might never user, and a good range of tutorial movies too. And adding simple regular shapes like polygons or stars is extremely simple.
With the built in photo editor, and enough creative power for even advanced users, and a very attractive price, Xara Xtreme provides just about everything you'll need for creating and editing graphics, whether bitmap or vector.
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