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valentin.f

Some Xara awesomness

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Hi everyone!

 

I'm a big fan of Xara since 1996 when I was 14 years old. It appeared to be the universal tool for every design job I had in my life, from logotype design, posters and cd covers, to web and UI design which I'm doing now most of the time. This awesome little program had implemented some really great design philosophy, and it always was a pleasure to use.

 

I'd go on and state that I simply love it.

 

Often I ask people -- is there a piece of software that you LOVE, which brings you joy just from interacting with it? And most people don't have anything to say, because it's hard to make such a thing. Usually programs are just "normal", if not abusive and abjective. Probably Xara was the only program I could say I love -- until today, when I've met Affinity :)

 

From the first sight I could see the same sleek approach to building a powerful design tool. Clearly you've taken some inspiration from Xara, and made things even better. (If the rumours are correct and some of you worked on Xara in the past -- then I want to send you and extra hug :) ). I still use Xara, but on a Mac it's a bit of pain, running a whole virtual machine which get sloppy at times. And with all this Magick thing, Xara now goes a different path... So I'm just lacking words to say how happy I am to see an all-fresh drawing tool, retaining Xara's way and giving it a new birth.

 

Okay... So I've tried drawing things in Affinity and generally it's just beautiful. Still there are things in Xara which are lacking in Affinity, and I think they could do a good job here too.

 

1. Right-click copy. This is one of the best Xara features: you can drag an object and if you click the right button while dragging, a copy will appear. The Alt-key works well too, but this one lets you do many copies within one drag. As now right-clicking while dragging does not do anything, may be this would not be a hard thing to implement.

 

2. Rounded corners feature universal for all cornered shapes. Here's a thing that feels strange: two separate tools for a rectangle and a rounded rectangle. They work the same way, have the same toolbar properties, but the rounded corner rectangle has a additional set of controls. Why not just put them into the rectangle tool? 

 

That's also important because sometimes you want to switch between rounded / sharp corner in an existing rectangle. So if now I'll draw a simple rectangle and later will decide to try making it rounded, I'll have to draw a new shape... That's not very nice :)

 

Another issue is that rounded corners are very important to other shapes, like stars and polygons. So it would be super cool to have the option to make them rounded too.

 

3. Line thickness in pixels. In a web or app world, everything is measured in pixels, so setting the line width in points is very inconvenient. It's weird that line points don't change with the document units.

 

4. Pixel-perfect lines. I know this is a hard issue, but again it's very important for any digital work -- the ability to draw 1-pixel lines. I tried this in Affinity and I get 2-pixel lines of ligher color, which is really sad :(

 

Well.. probably that's it :)

Thank you for the awesome tool!

 

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Hi valentin.f

Welcome to Affinity Forums,

 

I'm in a hurry right now, so i will reply to your points 3 and 4, since they were already addressed in Affinity Designer.

 

3. Go to Affinity Designer -> Preferences -> User Interface tab -> uncheck Lines in Points. You can now use pixels for line thickness.

4. Go to View -> Snapping Manager. Check Snap to units and change the units to Pixels. Note that Affinity Designer will snap to both whole pixel units as well as half pixels.  You can also enable the grid going to View-> Show Grid to help aligning your pixels correctly.

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[EDIT: Okay, it seems that Miguel beat me to it!]

 

Hello! Welcome to the forums! :)

 

I'm really glad to hear you're enjoying Affinity Designer - and it's very interesting to hear your thoughts with respect to Xara... mainly because I was part of the team that wrote Xara X which was released in 2001/2002 :) I still have a copy in my desk drawer - but I finally don't need it anymore :)

 

With regards to your points:

 

1. Right-click is an interesting one... I don't have a right button... or a left one! ;) I'll have a think about it though :)

 

2. We've got a much better plan for this... you'll find out in time!

 

3. Line thickness is traditionally described in points, but we let people change it to use the document units if they want to. Just go to 'Preferences' then in the 'User Interface' tab, uncheck the 'Lines in Points' checkbox.

 

4. You need to draw a 1 pixel line, about a pixel centre. If you turn snapping on, set it to snap to units -> pixels, then try drawing you will find that you're able to position things at pixel centres. This way, a 1-pixel wide line positioned about the centre of a pixel will fill it perfectly.

 

Cheers,

Matt

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Thank you Miguel and Matt for quick replies! It all works perfectly!

 

Regarding lines -- all depends on the task you do. Probably people who draw illustrations don't need fussing around pixels. But if you do websites and apps like me, this gets very and very important. May be it's out of your focus now. Still there are lots of web and UX designers out there who have to suffer every day in Illustrator and Photoshop. And Affinity, as well as Xara, works very well for them.

 

There's also Sketch on the market. It's very good for creating pixel-perfect interfaces, but it's more a parametric building tool. Contrary to its name, it's pretty bad for sketching and trying out different ideas. So... I think Affinity has great chances for this market :)

 

Regarding the right button -- may be I'm just too Windows old fart, but it's hard for me to imagine life without a right button. And Mac OS generally makes good use of it. There's also another great thing in Xara and Corel Draw -- clicking the colour in the palette with the right mouse button sets the colour for the outline. Actually after getting used to it I never could switch to the Illustrator style, where you have to be aware of the colour mode you are in: outline or fill. I forget the current mode all the time and often set colour of fill instead of outline and vice versa. Very annoying! But I'm not sure this approach could fit in Affinity. Trying to learn the new way of applying colour here :)

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Matt, may I also ask an off-topic question?

 

I'm a UX designer, and Xara always had the best user experience among graphic editors. Who was responsible for designing of all the features? I'd love to know the names of the heroes :) This is truly the highest grade work.

 

Thank you :)

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Hi Valentin,

 

We've already had a thread a long time ago about right-click being used to set colours and we did even start to go down that path - but then we found that it actually created a number of interaction programs when you think it all through given our current UI. It would mean a lot of changes... We'll never say never, but what we have is working pretty well in this build - see how you get on with it after giving it a bit of time :)

 

With regards to Xara, I arrived in 2000, after all the innovative UX work was done, so I never met anyone involved in that initial UX process. Sorry. I could suggest that if you just want to get some of the names of the original team then maybe just email Xara - they're usually pretty happy to talk about their illustrious past! ;)

 

Thanks,

Matt

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Regarding colours, I agree -- that's just a different philosophy. The thing which is bothering me though, is that each time you'll want to change the colour, you need to check the mode you're in (fill or outline). And then, depending on the mode, switch it or leave it. This adds some load to brain, and since this is a task you do all the time, it's a huge amount of load :) The Corel and Xara way is more straightforward -- you always get a predictable result when you choose colour, there are no modes. You don't need to check anything.

 

May be I'm wrong in some way, or just biased. Anyway the tool you have now will be very familiar and comfortable for all Illustrator users, which is great.

 

Regarding Xara -- great idea! I never thought anyone would talk to me on this issue, but why not give it a try! Thank you :)

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Wow! It's great to know that other Xara fans are interested in Affinity. 

 

I have been using Xara since it was released at Corel Xara in 1996. Great tool and I still using it today (Almost 20 years!).  

 

In fact, Xara is the only reason why I still keep a Windows PC in my office. Otherwise, I would do everything in the Mac ecosystem. I have shown Xara to many hard core Illustrator folks and they are always amazed at how Xara handles things like gradients, rounded corners, exporting, etc.

 

I am also happy to discover that Matt has worked on Xara. So hopefully, he can incorporate some Xara features into Affinity. (I love the color palette that runs in the bottom of Xara. It would be great if you put that in as a option.)

 

- - WiLd   

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Hi Wildscribe! Glad to meet you! We should definitely have a beer someday!! :) For me it was love from the first sight, and probably forever :) What do you do in Xara?

 

I'm not sure is the reason in former Xara developers, or in the British nature of Affinity, but I definitely can see many things inspired by Xara design. And this is great!

 

I don't think Xara features should be just incorporated into Affinity though -- it's a different tool with a different philosophy. Still they could provide hints for making Affinity better.

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On 17/09/2014 at 8:29 PM, valentin.f said:
2. Rounded corners feature universal for all cornered shapes. Here's a thing that feels strange: two separate tools for a rectangle and a rounded rectangle. They work the same way, have the same toolbar properties, but the rounded corner rectangle has a additional set of controls. Why not just put them into the rectangle tool? 

 

That's also important because sometimes you want to switch between rounded / sharp corner in an existing rectangle. So if now I'll draw a simple rectangle and later will decide to try making it rounded, I'll have to draw a new shape... That's not very nice :)

 

+1

 

On 17/09/2014 at 8:46 PM, MattP said:

2. We've got a much better plan for this... you'll find out in time!

 

 

Casually today I had the same question... I tried to answer here about a possible solution but i trust in you Matt :D

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/1260-applying-round-corners-to-a-box/?hl=suggestion&p=4900

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I am another Xara user from the Corel days.  Have had to keep Windows up and running as it was always the best solution for the work I needed to do and was way simpler and makes much more sense than Illustrator.  Not sure how Adobe ended up with that paradigm.  I like the similarities here with layers and the way the interface looks similar to the tools Adobe makes as I am very used to using Photoshop.  One of my chief complaints about Xara was the limited raster capabilities of the software with regards to photo manipulation.  I never really thought the Bitmap Tracer did a very good job either.

 

Very happy to be learning to use Affinity and am sure it will begin to mature as a powerful vector / bitmap platform.  I look forward to moving away from Xara and using Affinity exclusively soon!

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Hi,

I also use Xara but it has one big problem -- lack of proper CMYK support.


Best regards,

Petar Petrenko
Typesetter, Graphic Designer, Photographer
Skopje, Makedonija

Windows 10 x64 Pro
Dell Inspiron 7559 i7
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M )
16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx2)
1TB HDD + 128 GB SSD Hard drive
UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED- Backlit Touch Display
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5

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I was never a Xara user (PC only) but was a massive fan of their original work, when they were Computer Concepts. ArtWorks on the Acorn RiscPC had the best UI of any software I've ever used. :)

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Hi,

I also use Xara but it has one big problem -- lack of proper CMYK support.

 

Hello Petar,

 

This is not accurate. In the least, not fully accurate. What it is not, is color-managed (historically/presently). It will/can turn out accurately any CMYK values you input. Its RGB to CMYK conversion is about as good as anything else (ICC output via PDF anyway).

 

However, because of the lack of color management, it feels like one is flying by the seat of the pants. Even so, I have not had an issue with its CMYK output.


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

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Why are people comparing Xara to Affinity Designer... its clear to see that Xara is what Affinity Photo + Designer is in one package right ? Xara has the capabilities of manipulating vector and bitmap in the one app, whilst if you want to do that you need both software packages in Affinity right ?

 

Isnt Xara more an alternative to Adobe Fireworks and Affinity Photo, Designer more an alternative to Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator ?

 

Im posting here because im actually at a cross roads between jumping to either Xara Designer or to Affinity but knowing i will have to use 2 software packages to achieve what i want.... 

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Xara is basically vector based web oriented software. It's bitmaps capabilities are like pixel persona in Designer and it's layout capabilities are like Affinity's non-existing layout persona.  :)


Best regards,

Petar Petrenko
Typesetter, Graphic Designer, Photographer
Skopje, Makedonija

Windows 10 x64 Pro
Dell Inspiron 7559 i7
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M )
16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx2)
1TB HDD + 128 GB SSD Hard drive
UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED- Backlit Touch Display
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5

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@Petar_MK your actually right till now i didnt realise it has bitmap capabilities... and it does :D well thats made it one step easier to making this choice.

 

In your experience even though since you came from a Xara background, is Affinity Designer capable of most things Xara would do in Vector/Bitmap situation ? And compared to Fireworks, what do you think ?

 

Its gonna be real hard to let go of Fireworks but i know i have to... 

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Designer's vector/bitmap capabilities are much better than Xara's.

I never used Fireworks, so I can't tell anything about it.


Best regards,

Petar Petrenko
Typesetter, Graphic Designer, Photographer
Skopje, Makedonija

Windows 10 x64 Pro
Dell Inspiron 7559 i7
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M )
16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx2)
1TB HDD + 128 GB SSD Hard drive
UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED- Backlit Touch Display
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5

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I don't know what is better in AD than XDP as regards vector work. Perhaps Petar could list them.

 

However, if color managed applications are important to you, then AD would be a better choice.

 

Also, in AD there is OpenType feature support while there is not in XDP.

 

I find XDP's workflow and speed far better than AD. I have not had issues with XDP's pdf output, I cannot say the same about AD.

 

Ultimately you really need to trial both applications, making typical drawings you do and output to the types of file types you use.


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

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I don't know what is better in AD than XDP as regards vector work...

 

 

Speaking of pure vector illustration Xara offers more tools and much refined ones, but it is also true that it is a 20 years old software...

In terms of shading/painting the workflow in AD is far better and the application itself is better focused into specific disciplines.

Graphic Tablets users can unlock the real power of their peripherals, and the raster/vector transition is truly seamless.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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Speaking of pure vector illustration Xara offers more tools and much refined ones, but it is also true that it is a 20 years old software...

In terms of shading/painting the workflow in AD is far better and the application itself is better focused into specific disciplines.

Graphic Tablets users can unlock the real power of their peripherals, and the raster/vector transition is truly seamless.

Im buing Xara just for drawing with tablet and for me its on top of drawing with path. AD have uncomparable tablet support to Xara, even if Xara develop it 20 years ago it works better. 

But style of work with path is more friendly in AD, I was kid who learn on freehand and Illustrator and two tool for path: one for draw one for edit for me is like old friend, better than one strange multitasking super Xaras tool (and kind of how path is create in Xara is strange too) I like Xaras Layers/Page manager and realy do not like Layers in AD, Xara have offset path tool AD not, AD have amazing bluring X have too but worse, and list goes on and on.

Opinion is always based on old habits, now Im using both Xara and AD,  :) and somwhere on the corner HDD have old Fireworks who is best for net job (slicing, compresing image, gif control etc). Im not monosoftware guy, Im discover old truth more soft more fun :) and when we can choose we are almost free and happy.

 

Best wishes to all users of all :)

 

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