• Price When Reviewed: 100

  • Pros: Inexpensive. Rapid content creation and editing. Wide battery of effects. Substantial file import/export capabilities, and simple Flash and GIF animation export.

  • Cons: Limited feature set for specialist photo, DTP or Web professionals. Windows XP only at present.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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Xara Extreme Pro’s toolset pitches the software at multi-tasking creatives. It’s primarily a vector-based graphics application, though it does include a photo editor, bitmap support, and conversion tools.

The feature list is akin to elements of Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, and Flash, and the application can import and export PSD files, including complex layer support. It offers CMYK colour separations and PDF export (from version 1.3 through to version 1.6, as well as various PDF/X standards) and import.

Some Photoshop plug-ins are supported, with a selection shipping with Xtreme Pro. These are available in the Xara Picture Editor component. Version 3 of Xara’s Picture Editor now features a Levels panel with a live preview for brightness, contrast, and gamma adjustments, and there’s also a small crop of other enhancement and correction tools.

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Live Effects is the standout illustration feature. This lets you edit an object (including vector drawings), even after you have applied an effect to it. When you edit the object, the live effect is re-applied automatically to the new shape.
DTP tasks are made easier by new support for multiple page documents and an enhanced text tool. It’s no threat to Quark or InDesign, but it’s better than trying to create decent layouts on Word. 
Flash professionals won’t find too much to excite them in Xtreme Pro’s animation feature list either, but if you want a simple Flash or GIF animation tool for the occasional banner ad, this is ideal. There’s no scripting, sound, or even a timeline – rather you create animation layers with modified components on each, which Xtreme Pro will attempt to tween and insert a set amount of frames. It works fine for basic tasks.
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