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Update on Xara's OS Vector Graphics Project

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the vectoring-in dept.

134

An anonymous reader writes "We first heard from Xara when they announced their plan to release their crown jewels, the Xara X source code under GPL. Now, 5 scant months since going Open Source, Xara has released Xara Xtreme Linux 0.7, a very functional, robust illustration program. What this means for the Linux Desktop is significant: a true professional grade graphics package. And for a glimpse at what Xara can do, you owe it to yourself to see the new Xara Xtreme Linux Screenshot gallery with amazing, unbelievable vector graphic art."

cancel ×

134 comments

But does ot run on linu... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973815)

Oh right, it does. Oops.

Re:But does ot run on linu... (0, Flamebait)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974102)

So, in 2006, Linux finally caught up to the graphics capabilities of GDI+ and Quartz from six years ago?

Does this mean it's the "year of desktop Linux?" :-P

Re:But does ot run on linu... (2, Informative)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974163)

GDI+ and Quartz are rendering APIs, not vector art programs. *nix has had Cairo for a couple of years and X has been around longer than Quartz or GDI/+.

Re:But does ot run on linu... (2, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975099)

GDI+ and Quartz are vector APIs. X has nothing to do with that, and Cairo still isn't production quality.

Re:But does ot run on linu... (2, Informative)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975164)

Cairo has been rendering GNOME for over a year. The software renderer is a bit slow on linux, but it works fine. I was hoping there might br some way to ue the Xara renderer to speed it up, but it doesn't look like that's possible yet.

X does have a vector API, just not a very good one :)

Re:But does ot run on linu... (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#15976295)

I'm actually pretty unimpressed with the performance of Xara LX. The rendering speed isn't anything like the videos they have of Xara Xtreme that boast about being a thousand times faster than Illustrator or whatever. In fact I end up waiting around for quiet a while whenever I change the zoom level as it redraws all the parts.

Hopefully they'll get there by 1.0, but I think to claim that it's "professional grade" at this point is a bit laughable.

As is your claim about the "graphics capabilities" of Linux, you know the platform that the majority of feature film effects are done on, troll.

A few replies so far... (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973836)

... and the server seems to be showing a very impressive vector graphic of a blank page. What great rendering!

Re:A few replies so far... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973860)

> ... and the server seems to be showing a very impressive vector graphic of a blank page. What great rendering!

The font in which "503 - Connection failed" is rendered happens to be vectorized. Does that count?

Re:A few replies so far... (3, Funny)

cortana (588495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974529)

I'm still using the X11 core font subsystem, you insensitive clod!

Better than Illustrator and Freehand? (3, Interesting)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973855)

I haven't used Xara extreme yet, but I have seen artists say that it's better than Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand (which is what this software competes with) in terms of performance, (some?) features, and ease of use. Sounds like a great new software in Linux' arsenal.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973882)

I haven't used Xara extreme yet, but I have seen artists say that it's better than Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia...

What a fucking liar. Name these artists. NAME THEM. I dare you, especially to give us a link. Artists are notoriously shy about using tools they're not familiar with, and you're telling me you've seen artists who say, "Hell yeah! I've installed Linux and have tried out these tools, and they beat the crap out of Adobe!!"

Bullshit. Bullshit! Why post lies like this to the choir? I can see lying in some art web site to drum up support, but why lie here?

God, I HATE bullshit like this. Maybe the package is good, maybe it's bad, but out and out obvious lies like this do not help the cause.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973989)

yo, smartmouth, chill.

"Hell yeah! I've installed Linux and have tried out these tools, and they beat the crap out of Adobe!!"

RTFA, will ya? Xara has been commercially available for Windoze for a while - current version is 2.0f (go check xara.com) So lay off the frothing mouth act a little.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (1)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974120)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xara_Xtreme [wikipedia.org]

Windows versions have been around for about 6 years, so there is a chance that someone just MIGHT have tried it already.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (1)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974379)

I wasn't clear enough in my original post. Yes, I was referring to having heard artists say that the existing Windows version of Xara extreme (X?) was better than illustrator and freehand. I heard this months ago before the open source version was even announced. Being that you are the second post pointing this out, I figured I would clarify it. Thanks.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (1)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974409)

I thought you were replying to my original post, instead of the flamebait post that was hidden from view. Doh! New Slashdot design! Thanks again.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974466)

the fact that they failed commercially and are resorting to an open source model is pretty good indicator that nobody uses it.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974513)

Who said it failed commercially?

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974673)

the fact that they are resorting to an open source model is pretty good indicator that they failed commercially.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974789)

Is it? The developers are still actively selling the software, which they've been selling for the past 10 years. None of them are selling their homes or living out of their cars. Their children aren't starving.

Freaking failures.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (2, Insightful)

hullabalucination (886901) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975515)

the fact that they are resorting to an open source model is pretty good indicator that they failed commercially.

Chalk that up to the swift move of licensing it to Corel to "market" a Windows version from 1995 to 2000 (as CorelXara). Having Corel come anywhere near your product is the Kiss of Death. Compound that error by trying to sell a high-end product to graphic artists on Windows without first building a loyal following with a Mac version.

* * * * * * *

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
--Groucho Marx

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974484)

"Name these artists..."

My brother is a graphic art illustrator. He loves it and uses it almost exclusively for a long time now. So what's your beef with Xara anyway? Looks like a good tool to me.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15975093)

Anonymous Coward's brother uses it?

That endorsement is good enough for me!

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? (2, Insightful)

BiggyP (466507) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974159)

I've given it a quick prod and i'm reasonably impressed, though the lack of a usable SVG filter makes it fairly useless to me at the moment. The thing that intrigues me most is what, if anything, other FOSS graphics project are going to make of all this newly opened code.

One other thing, I see that Xara Xtreme will only be available for free on Linux, OSX and Windows users will have to continue to pay a, albeit small, fee to use it. What's going to happen when someone takes this app, designed from the start to be cross platform, and compiles GPL versions for Windows and OSX under a new name? Surely that's going to seriously upset the company.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975943)

Indeed. If their rendering code is significantly faster than Cairo (as their performance page seems to suggest), maybe some Xara technology will make its way into the mainstream Linux desktop?

I guess Xara will get some benefits from going OSS, but I'm not sure what yet. Perhaps they can release their enhanced/professional version under a different license. As an example, I'm running StarOffice 8, on Novell SLED 10, with ATI binary drivers for XGL support. Yes, there are free alternatives, but this system does what I want with minimal hassle. Similarly, If Xara provided something better and more usable than say, InkScape or SodiPodi, people will pay money to get it.

Good Linux software does not have to be given away.

Re:Better than Illustrator and Freehand? (1)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974415)

Sadly, that's now "Adobe FreeHand"...

pics mirror? (0, Offtopic)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973873)

XIX XthiXnk the serXverX has suXccXumbed, XdoeXs anyXbodyX havXe a mirrXoXrXX?

if I could I probably would make a law prohibiting the use of the letter X and words containing it from product names/descriptions unless they've existed for at least 10 years... I mean, cmon, can we be a bit more creative?

Re:pics mirror? (3, Funny)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973898)

KWouldK KyouK KratherK KitK KhaveK KaK KonK KeveryK KwordK K?K mmmK?

Re:pics mirror? (5, Funny)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974004)

GNo.

Re:pics mirror? (3, Funny)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974086)

You iDiot, we've patented preceding words with a letter. Sincerely, Apple

Re:pics mirror? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974512)

xwe xdid xit xfirst.

WinAnd WinApple WinDidn't WinCheck WinFor WinPrior WinArt.

Re:pics mirror? (5, Informative)

fatgav (555629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973908)

But Xara is more than 10 years old, it was the name given in 1995 to the PC orientated side of Computer Concepts, an Acorn orientated company started in 1981. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xara [wikipedia.org]

coral to the rescue (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973881)

here's working coral cache

http://www.xaraxtreme.org.nyud.net:8090/screenshot s.html [nyud.net]

Re:coral to the rescue (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974154)

It doesn't seem to be working right now.

Call me when it does SVG (4, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973884)

Just tried the Windoze version for a quickie look at features. No SVG support. As more of the OSS community and others start to create and deliver vector graphics in SVG (check out all the SVGs in Wikimedia Commons or OpenClipart.org), any illustration program without it will gradually lose its user base. It's not that SVG is so wonderful, but it's becoming a necessary tool to have in your arsenal.

Re:Call me when it does SVG (2, Interesting)

ahg (134088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974020)

I haven't had a chance to try it yet... but does it do Postscript/EPS? While SVG may be the OSS choice of format, and may be great for web use too - If OSS wants to make it in the professional graphics & publishing world, it really needs to compete on Adobe's turf where Postscript still reigns supreme. I'd rather see Postscript today, and SVG support to follow than the other way around. (The OSS community is also more likely to find contributors to do SVG support than Postscript... it's the itch more likley to be scratched :)

Re:Call me when it does SVG (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974168)

does it do Postscript/EPS?

It exports to EPSF, but can't import from it.

Re:Call me when it does SVG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974148)

Call me when SVG really matters. svg has some nice features for programmers, but for end users it has virtually no benefits and more than a few drawbacks.
ILLUSTRATION:
  • Why bother when postscript is an open format as well and widely used by a variety of industry leading tools.
  • SVG Fonts are unhinted.

WEB:
  • SVG is only a vector format. animation is done with javascript :-0
  • SVG does not have the market penetration of flash, which is over 99% of all browsers. More work and less compatability!?!?!?

Re:Call me when it does SVG (0, Flamebait)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974217)

This is +4 interesting? Heck, the story is about this software being GPL'ed and thus the possibility of adding missing features. Yeah, we'll wake you up when all the coders have delivered the work to your doorstep for free.

Re:Call me when it does SVG (1)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974479)

How many GPL projects reach 1.0 or get those features added? I've been looking for a solution to deal with ImageMagick in PHP. iMagick stopped development at v 0.9.3 in 1994. MagickWand for PHP... last I checked the discussion forums for it at imagemagick.org a couple of weeks ago, the developer in charge of it had dropped off the radar in January and hasn't been responding to e-mails from the group moderators.

I tried the time-limited trial of the $79 closed-source version for Windows and it wasn't up to snuff for me. Why would I get excited that they're open-sourcing the Linux version to try to get some free development work done? Oft-times, that's a cry for help.

There are some very basic filters that their major commercial competitors have that they lack, and I'd say this is a symptom of what's kept them from widespread adoption. So excuse me if I'm not jumping for joy that another not-ready-for-primetime application has been added to the OSS community. When some people actually get behind it, make it ready for primetime, and get it out of beta, then I'l start being a little less cynical.

- Greg

Re:Call me when it does SVG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15976079)

wtf? how the hell is this flamebait? he's right on the money..

Re:Call me when it does SVG (5, Informative)

fuxoft (161836) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974337)

Well, if you'd tried the Linux version, you'd find out it DOES support SVG... It's still in early stages but they are working on full support and new builds are published daily...

Re:Call me when it does SVG (4, Funny)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974526)

"Well, if you'd tried the Linux version, you'd find out it DOES support SVG... It's still in early stages"... Yeah, and my best friend could put on silk panties and tell me he was in the early stages of a sex change, but it doesn't mean I'd want to kiss him.

- Greg

Re:Call me when it does SVG (4, Funny)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974792)

You failed to rule out kissing your best friend once the operation is complete, however.

Re:Call me when it does SVG (1)

NumbThumb (468496) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974859)

Uh, mods? What exactly does the parent post inform you of? Don't get me wrong, it's a valid comment, it made me nod and chuckle, it might even be "insightful" - but "informative"? wtf?

Re:Call me when it does SVG (2, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974989)

"Yeah, and my best friend could put on silk panties and tell me he was in the early stages of a sex change, but it doesn't mean I'd want to kiss him."
... but be honest; you know damn well you'd be all over him the minute he took the panties off 8-)

Re:Call me when it does SVG (2, Informative)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974931)

I've read that Xara is in contact with the Inkscape team, so I guess that we'll see SVG capabilities on Xara Xtreme soon. A quick look at the project roadmap shows that a SVG import/export filter is planned.

Full opensource ? (2, Interesting)

yupa (751893) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973889)

IIRC the core of Xara Xtreme were put on some binary only libs. Did these libraries were released in a opensource license in new version ?

Re:Full opensource ? (4, Informative)

Tet (2721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973996)

IIRC the core of Xara Xtreme were put on some binary only libs.

Kind of. There are two renderers. They've open sourced the slower one, and are keeping the faster one closed, for now, at least. The software is fully functional, but it's slower than the closed source version (although still fast enough -- it's comparable to inkscape for the things for which I've been using it.

FWIW, I'm using 0.7 right now, and it's very impressive. There are still a few graphical glitches, and some things that I find easier to do in inkscape/sodipodi. Conversely, there are some things that I can do in Xara that are all but impossible in inkscape. Feathered variable transparency rocks my world. I think it's great that we have both options. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, and I use both for my projects.

Re:Full opensource ? (2, Interesting)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974765)

On the inscape list there were talks about the rendermachines of Xara before. Especially using Xara's one versus upcomming Cairo. One thing I remembered was this render of Xara was full software without real hardware support. On the mailinglist people mentioned the use of it on tiny devices such as linux running Nokia's. Smaller hardware, bigger performance difference.

These guys made a great rendermachine, it is cool to see they get help from the community to get more users, but also more developers. I hope nVidia would do the same...

Re:Full opensource ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974012)

Lemme guess. ESL?

The Google cache ... (3, Informative)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973905)

... is right here [72.14.203.104] and still appears to be building. But at least it's not on fire.

Slashvertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973926)

If you're going to Slashvertise, make sure your server can stand up to Slashdot traffic ;).

But seriously this sounds like a nice program, I'm looking forward to trying it out.

Needless hype (4, Funny)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973947)

"An anonymous reader" writes: ...crown jewels...5 scant months...a very functional, robust illustration program...a true professional grade graphics package...you owe it to yourself to see the new Xara Xtreme Linux Screenshot gallery...with amazing, unbelievable vector graphic art

Could "An anonymous reader" possibly be Xara?

Check out the source code, this thing is a monolith. I think I'm sticking to Inkscape for now, though I wish the Xara team the best of luck, and it was a nice gesture to release the source code under the GPL.

Re:Needless hype (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15973993)

"Could "An anonymous reader" possibly be Xara?"

You think it if was Xara they would have better prepared themselves for the slashdotting.

Re:Needless hype (1, Informative)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974511)

"Could "An anonymous reader" possibly be Xara?"

I worked at Xara a few years back, and a more cynical person than I would say that the copy style used in the submission seems strangely familiar, especially bits like "you owe it to yourself". :-)

You think it if was Xara they would have better prepared themselves for the slashdotting.

I worked at Xara a few years back, and a more cynical person than I would say that...well, you can probably see where I'm going with this.

Slashdotted? (2)

smartdreamer (666870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973972)

Good to see ./ has still is "magic touch". It's been a while since we slashdotted.

No Cache? (1)

Mattwolf7 (633112) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973994)

Useless without article... Didn't even make it past 10 comments, site down, mirrordot down, coral cache down, and google cache down...

Looks interesting (3, Informative)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974007)

Wikipedia has more [wikipedia.org] on Xara (of course).

I'm a huge fan of vector drawing, even to the point of using Inkscape to animate stuff [revis.co.uk] . I can't wait to try this out, especially if it has better support for frame generation.

Re:Looks interesting (1)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974032)

There is also Synfig (link to screenshot) [synfig.com] for Linux/OS X which is a vector package aimed at animators. I haven't come accross it before, although it was linked frm the Slashdot article, so I'll be back with a review in, uh, 12-20 hours. Pass the jolt please :)

Nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974008)

Too bad that the de facto standard as far as vector graphics is concerned isn't - and quite probably will never be - Xara; it's Adobe Illustrator. It's like hailing The Gimp as "all we need as far as bitmap graphics go" (which has been done quite often), while every graphics professional will tell you that it's clearly no match for Photoshop. I've seen InkScape, another fine vector graphics application that's available for Linux, but it's no match for Illustrator either, which really is too bad. Yes, of course, it's eventually all up to Adobe to port Photoshop and/or Illustrator, but until that happens, we simply shouldn't act like a substitute application - no matter how nice - has just filled the big, gaping hole that instead should be filled by an application that is regarded as being the industry standard.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974725)

CorelDRAW was once the industry standard. Things change.

Re:Nice, but... (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974761)

CorelDRAW was once the industry standard. Things change.

*spits coffee*

What industry would that be exactly? Windows-using corporate secretaries doing DTP from 1991-1994?

I owe it to myself... (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974041)

But unfortunately, the server doesn't owe it to me.

mmmm screenshots.. slashdot.. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974048)

*Poof*

Anyone got mirrors?

Based on wxWidgets == more than Linux (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974077)

I'm probably going to make the server burn a little more by piquing Mac user interest in addition to Linux, but, as gleaned from the google cache of the text [72.14.203.104] (the images are still roiling in flames on a server somewhere), they are using wxWidgets [wikipedia.org] , and they say they're looking for developers and testers for Mac OS too. I guess a port there is not far off. Presumably other platforms are possible too.

They are indeed making an OSX version ... (1)

isolationism (782170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975276)

... but they have stated since early on that it is on the backburner until they make more significant progress with the Linux version (after which there will presumably be less to do with getting the code to run on OSX). It makes sense, if it means they will have less concurrent re-work of similar code (and bugs) to work through so that writing the Mac version is more of a port than a rework.

It's also not unthinkable that the same app could even be backported to Windows, although that seems highly unlikely for the moment: Windows is and has been Xara's bread and butter for a long time, so they probably aren't eager to see their paying customers (like me) slip away to free versions the next time around.

That said, I'd gladly pay for a licence to be able to run the software on Linux, and I had told them as much a couple years ago. (Their product manager at the time disagreed and said that Linux users tended to want everything for free because of the philosophy behind the OS, but they have obviously changed their tune since).

I wish them the best of luck for successfully completing their Linux as well as Mac versions: As a long-time user of the software myself, it's in my own interests to see them continue to do well and improve their software (and their supported OSes, as I have been dying to move to Linux for a long time now and Xara has been one of the biggest packages tying me down to Windows) -- and in theirs, if they're to stand up to the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.

bitmap tracer (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974122)

Does it have a bitmap tracer and if so how good is it. I do tons of manual vector tracing since all or most suck badly.

Re:bitmap tracer (1)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974136)

Adobe's pretty much screwed Illustrator. Then they bought Macromedia and tanked Freehand. It's good to see the OS community stepping into fill the gap.

2 cents,

QueenB

Re:bitmap tracer (1)

isolationism (782170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974228)

It's good for creating a stylised sort of look to stuff but there will never be a 100% solution to replacing manual tracing: Software just isn't good enough, it seems, to do the job as well as a human can.

That said, the best software I've ever used for doing traces is Adobe Streamline, but that product seems to be abandoned (maybe it's part of Illustrator now? I don't know) and that's not saying much. I can usually trace out/recreate wordmarks and logotype etc. faster than I can get a tracing program to come close. Xara is damn fast for doing this kind of work, so maybe consider that to be a silver lining.

Re:bitmap tracer (1)

njh (24312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974385)

Have you used the tracing built into inkscape?

Re:bitmap tracer (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974480)

Yes and out of all of them it is the worst not because the tracer sucks but the way it is incorporated into the program. The tracer dialog with it's lack of a decent preview or tracing dialog is it's major downfall.

Inkscape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974156)

I was a Xara (Xtreme) Windows user for one or two years and loved it. Then Inkscape appeared and, at first, it wasn't as good as Xara but right now the difference is minimal and Inkscape supports SVG so my choice was obvious.

Since I'm still a Windows user, the only thing I'd like Inkscape to improve is the GUI which could be a little better. I know it's a GTK "problem" but...

Pity about the server ... (4, Informative)

isolationism (782170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974184)

... But they're a relatively small shop, which is probably the only reason they're having anything to do with Linux at all (trying to get leverage in a growing niche market). I'm sure they like the press regardless, but I'm guessing nobody's in the office now that it's nearly midnight in Britain.

I am doubtless one of the reasons that Xara LX exists at all -- I wrote their product manager a couple years ago to state I intended to switch to Linux, and would really love it if their product could at least run under WINE; at the time they said they had no intentions on working on a Linux version in the future and that "Linux users seem to expect everything for free". That they are upping the ante and actually making a Linux version that is indeed free is puzzling, but I'm not complaining: I've bought every revision of the software since 1.0 back in the 90s and still prefer it to Inkscape, Illustrator, and all the other competitors on the block.

My only beefs, if I could be said to have any:

  • Inkscape has more intelligent handling of shapes. For example, the corner radius of a rounded corner is preserved once a shape is resized; in Xara it changes proportional to the altered dimensions from the original shape. Yuck.
  • Inkscape also has a kick-ass calligraphy tool, which isn't useless -- I've already used it to design a product logo for a very real product of a relatively large company. No other vector-based tool for calligraphy comes close.
  • I dearly, sorely wish that Xara would figure out how to get SVG support into Xara. It's a glaring omission that isn't going to fly with the Linux crowd. At all. And it's annoying not to have it in Windows, either. Strangely enough, SVG support was one of the excuses I was given by Xara's product manager for not making a Linux version of Xara (e.g. SVG had priority). I wonder how that's shifted now, and if SVG support is still on the agenda, and for which version(s) of their software.
  • Finally, I know that Xara had earlier pledged to support another open-source application named UberConverter [scratchcomputing.com] which was supposed to be the Rosetta stone to format interoperability. According to the status page, "xar" file read and write capability is there (at least for the LX format) -- so when is the result going to be integrated directly into Xara?

All told, though, I am grateful to Xara for their decision -- and to all the developers who have contributed to the success of the project. If I could code my way out of a proverbial wet paper bag I would have helped by now, but unfortunately I am one of those individuals who is happy to use Xara's products without having the faintest idea of how to make them (or make them better, in this case).

Re:Pity about the server ... (1)

John Bokma (834313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974321)

"I am doubtless one of the reasons that Xara LX exists at all" You, and a number people including me who have been begging Xara to start porting to GNU/Linux for years and years. I even offered my help several times :-). I bought Xara 1.5, bought Xara 2.0 and yes even bought Xara Xtreme several months ago :-D. "I dearly, sorely wish that Xara would figure out how to get SVG support into Xara. " Xara is supporting ( http://www.technologynewsdaily.com/node/1468 [technologynewsdaily.com] ) a project called Uber-converter ^H^H^H^H... VectorSection( http://scratchcomputing.com/projects/vectorsection / [scratchcomputing.com] ). I think having one universal conversion program (or better: set of programs) is the way to go. xar -> crs -> svg seems currently a possible path. No idea how good this works, haven't tried it yet.

Re:Pity about the server ... (1)

John Bokma (834313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974351)

Finally, I know that Xara had earlier pledged to support another open-source application named UberConverter [scratchcomputing.com] which was supposed to be the Rosetta stone to format interoperability. According to the status page, "xar" file read and write capability is there (at least for the LX format) -- so when is the result going to be integrated directly into Xara?

Oops, overlooked that one :-) Personally I prefer to have this *not* intergrated directly into any program. I prefer to have those converters available as stand alone, easy upgradable tools, how *nix was ment to be. Of course it would be nice to have a way to hook this (and other convertors) into Xara. But integration, no thanks and no please.

rounded corner (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974569)

I have no experience with Xara or Inkscape, but...

It sounds like if it Xara is -scaling- the vector, then it very well should be scaling the rounding as well. If it is -redimensioning- the vector's width/height/whatever-property, then it's a different matter altogether.

You'll see this in something like CAD applications where changing the dimensions of a rect is a whole different thing from scaling the rect.

Re:Pity about the server ... (4, Informative)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974589)

I dearly, sorely wish that Xara would figure out how to get SVG support into Xara. It's a glaring omission that isn't going to fly with the Linux crowd. At all. And it's annoying not to have it in Windows, either. Strangely enough, SVG support was one of the excuses I was given by Xara's product manager for not making a Linux version of Xara (e.g. SVG had priority). I wonder how that's shifted now, and if SVG support is still on the agenda, and for which version(s) of their software.

Well, it's a tricky thing, because Xara does some rampant* things with vectors, that are often hard to reproduce in other formats. Speaking as the person who designed the original file format filter (import/export) system, I'd have to say that writing a basic SVG exporter isn't hard, and would cover a lot of cases. However, it wouldn't cope with some of the fancier features very well (or at all) - handling everything properly is a lot of work. And producing something that 'kind of' works results in a poor user experience, which is something Xara (the company and product) tries to avoid.

But it would be nice to have a basic exporter for people who want SVG, as I still find Xara the easiest program to use for knocking up diagrams and illustrations (I admit I may be susceptible to some bias here). I still remember trying Visio (when it first came out!) to produce some architecture diagrams for Xara, and wishing that I had a good diagram/illustration package to use for the purpose (talk about catch-22). I try Visio every couple of years, but the UI is still akin to being poked in the eye with a sharp yacht.

* I use the word advisedly, as any of the original Xara developers will know :-)

SVG export might be tricky, yes ... (1)

isolationism (782170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975253)

... But probably not more so than exporting any other vector format from Xara -- take AI, EPS, or PDF for example, and they're already handling those. But I'm being rude:

Speaking as the person who designed the original file format filter (import/export) system

I'm honoured to make your acquaintance, Tim -- and I agree, Xara certainly does some "vector-banging" that other software probably didn't do at the time, and doesn't do still -- but packages like Inkscape seem nearly equally capable to Xara in many respects, and they are able to handle SVG import/export. Xara also already handles exports to other (more limited) vector formats as well, and has algorithms for handling elements that aren't supported by the exported format.

To be clear: I'm okay with losing some of the information in my file by exporting to SVG or having other limitations imposed on my work (e.g. no fancy drop shadow tools, feathering, etc.) if I have the basic functionality and interoperability -- after all, I don't like Xara just because of the extended features, but because it is fast, I like how it handles colours in a palette (another terrible weakness of other vector packages like Inkscape, that have no palette management, or Illustrator, where colour is ridiculously tedious and overly complex). But that built-in limitation isn't the right approach for everyone, as you point out: Xara focuses on the smooth user experience at the sacrifice of some features, so maybe a couple other posters were right in suggesting that SVG interoperability should be via an external application instead of built into the software.

It should be obvious by now that I'm a Xara lover too, and I use it for nearly everything I can accomplish with vector graphics -- even silly stuff like calculating driving distance between two points on a roadmap, because of Xara's incredibly simple yet powerful arbitrary unit system. I confess to using Visio on occasion for drawing charts/diagrams (because it is easier to draw and alter quickly with its snapping nodes and automatic connector recalculation), but I often end up redrawing the finished graph in Xara to make it look attractive enough to put into my bosses' slideshows.

That said, the reason for my whine about SVG has to do chiefly with the import/export functionality, and I am afraid of hitting a nerve with you, but here's hoping you appreciate the problem without being offended:

I work at an online learning company as a UI architect from a home office -- and the other designers at H.Q. have opted to use other software despite my having earlier chosen to use Xara to design our software (I can't really do much about it as I can't browbeat them from here). They argue it shouldn't matter so long as the formats are interoperable, which I agree with in principle -- but in practice doing so puts me in an untenable position because Xara's vector export functionality (and much of its import) is ... well, not so good. The other major vector illustration packages out there have:

  1. More recent format support (e.g. Adobe Illustrator 9-10 as opposed to Xara which tends to be 2-3 major versions behind the pack)
  2. Modern/popular format support like AI, EPS, PDF, and SVG (whereas Xara seems to have many arcane and largely useless formats now -- How many people these days need to be able to export to WordPerfect Graphics format, and how many have tried exporting a WMF in desperation to find it doesn't even have remotely the same geometry as the original vector file?). In Xara's defense, the most recent version (X1) does now export to PDF and Flash, but again they are older versions of the formats, and of limited use when they only interoperate in one direction.
  3. Better colour support. I think I have taken the most licks due to the fact that Xara somehow manages to import neon colours from illustrator files. I know that NO package out there seems to be able to agree on colours in AI/EPS files (not even PS vs. Illustrator), but at least most come close.
  4. Compliant format support: I have to re-save something drawn in Xara then exported to AI in Illustrator for other packages to read it: Obviously Illustrator's parser is a bit more lenient about errors/omissions, because the drawings (usually) load fine in Illustrator -- just not anything else (until they've been re-saved).

Of course, with Adobe buying up the competition I am being left with comparatively less argument by saying "Everyone else" when there will soon only be one or two other commercial competitors to Xara, but let's pretend for now that that is beside the point.

All this is to say that Xara has its weaknesses, and hopefully things will improve with their new, promising direction toward open source and Linux/Mac versions of their software. I think that SVG format, more than any other specific addition to the software, could help solve the problems I griped about above by supporting a well-established and open standard by which to describe files for improved interoperation with existing software packages as well as current-to-future use (such as designing icons and user interfaces for modern desktop software and hopefully a future option for web designers as well).

Thank you for reading and for posting, and for all your good work on Xara, water-under-the-bridge as it may be for you.

Re:Pity about the server ... (2, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975220)

I just downloaded and installed it (Gotta love Autopackage, Linux is becoming downright easy to the point where many things are easier than Windows!) and I have to say after playing with it for two minutes: this program is incredible. Who needs Inkscape? In dealing with layers, Inkscape is an exercise in futility, and there is far less control in exporting to specific bitmap sizes than I am used to in Adobe apps.

Like Inkscape, Gimp, Krita, and other OSS programs, it is missing layer effects (a huge benefit to Adobe apps) but at first glance this appears to be a huge step forward for Linux users who actually want to spend time working and less time fussing and tweaking. I can't wait to dig into this program and see if my experience with it lives up to my initial impression of the program. Just having a usable layer palette alone can provide a productivity boost over Inkscape. Don't get me wrong: I like inkscape, but there are a lot of things from Illustrator that I really, really miss. :( This program appears to be much closer to being a potential Illustrator replacement.

Xara LX is indeed pretty nice ... (2, Informative)

isolationism (782170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975338)

... And frankly, much of what makes it so nice to work with has been around since version 1.0. There are too many features to list out, but just a few of the things I love about it:

  • Unlike the big guy out there, Xara can actually export a bitmap of exactly what you see on the screen. Not something similar, not something pretty close: exactly what is there, pixel for pixel. Why Illustrator still can't do this is utterly beyond me; Xara has been doing it since version 1.0.
  • Ever have a drawing that needed guidelines that weren't a perfect horizontal or vertical line? No problem. In Xara, guidelines are just another layer: You can draw (or move) any vector shape whatsoever to the guide layer. This is also handy for exporting an "invisible" padding around an object, if you need one -- Of course you can create a truly invisible object which will work too, but this method is nicer since you can see what you're selecting.
  • Need to move something just a little? Use the arrow keys. Xara makes excellent use of the keyboard for nudging objects in a variety of different increments -- Right down to 0.2 pixels.
  • Zoom capability. Sorry, no other vector software (and in fact most bitmap software) doesn't even come 1/100th as close. Literally.
  • Speed. People are always amazed at how quickly Xara can be worked with -- Enough for me to be able to impress a boss looking over my shoulder and suggesting a change, then being able to do it in realtime right in front of their eyes. There are hundreds of tricks for working quick in Xara, and none of them will beat familiarity with the product -- but Xara is aces for being able to work quickly. Illustrator is extremely clunky in comparison (even thought it admittedly does sport more features, especially benefitting from interoperability with Photoshop, layer effects, and drafting-capable features). For just one concrete example, if you want to copy something in Xara, just drag it with the mouse then click the right mouse button to "stamp" down a quick copy somewhere else.
  • Colour management. No, it doesn't do ICM (and more's the pity, it would be nice to have) but rather the ability to quickly but powerfully manage colours in your drawings. Illustrator has a similar (but much more complex and slow) functionality but Inkscape doesn't -- being able to make a complete drawing with 'assigned' and co-dependent colours, then changing the colours in the palette afterward to affect the entire drawing is immensely powerful and gratifying (as it pays off often, especially during the comprehensive and implementation phases of a design).

I do hope you enjoy playing with Xara; I know how "high" I felt when it dawned on me what great software it was to use in 1997 when I was first introduced to it. I think this company has written some great software; their products command a near-cult status following already (many of their followers dating all the way back to 'Acorn Draw'). Developing a port of their flagship product for Linux is quite definitely not going to hurt their reputation in the latter respect, at least. ;)

How does this compare to inkscape? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974218)

Inkscape [inkscape.org] seems to be a pretty capable package already (and it supports svg)

Bizarre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974241)

It's very odd how there are two excellent and nearly-professional open source/Linux Adobe Illustrator replacements, but we have yet to see anyone create an open source Adobe Photoshop replacement worthy of mention.

GIMP (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974714)

GIMP. Have you heard of it? Not as good as photoshop, but free and works in Linux.

Re:GIMP (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974747)

Not as good as photoshop is even highly subjective. I personally like it better for a number of reasons, code bloat being a chief one.

True Gimp doesn't have CMYK, and maybe one or two other features that can't possibly matter, but for 99% of graphics editors, webmonkeys, and photographers or digital photography workers, the gimp does it all.

If it's the interface that bugs you, you can also check out:

http://www.gimpshop.net/ [gimpshop.net]

Which lays it out more like photoshop.

Peace!
rhY

Re:GIMP (1)

Medieval_Gnome (250212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974921)

Look, I'm as much a GIMP fan as almost anyone else, but there are a few things that are sorely missing from it that most people would find useful.

Adjustment layers - being able to apply adjustments like that without messing the original is a wonderful thing and comes in very handy. It also makes it easier to adjust all the layers below it at once. Sure beats using a gray layer set to 'divide' for adjusting the exposure

Healing brush - I think this is going to land either for 2.4 or 2.6 (it was one of the SoC projects, IIRC) but not having it at this moment is something that makes it much harder to do subtle retouchings of images.

There are probably several other things that would be useful, but these are a few that I personally would appreciate. But I don't miss them enough to switch from the gimp, because it's just so nice.

Re:GIMP (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975247)

Don't forget layer effects - a huge time saver. :)

Re:GIMP (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975111)

One major feature that Xara has over GIMP is that we're talking about vector drawing applications, which is what Xara is, and which is something GIMP is not. Gimp is a raster-based "image editing" app. And there are many Photoshop features which matter to real designers doing real work that GIMP cannot approach (my wife's biggest usability complaint is lack of grouped layers).

Re:GIMP (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975821)

Dude, He was asking about photoshop replacement. As I said, many profesionals do not consider Gimp to be as fully featured as Photoshop, but its the same type of application and for some people it does everything they need. Or in any case its cheaper.

Re:GIMP (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975971)

Didn't see the GPP. Dumbass = me. Don't get me wrong, I use GIMP constantly, but I've actually gotten yelled at for suggesting "here, honey why don't you try this at home so we don't have to drop $200 for Windows and ungodly more hundreds for Photoshop". I'll be lucky to walk away with teeth after setting her up with Inkscape on one monitor and Xara on the other and saying "try these so that maybe we don't have to upgrade Illustrator".

I think it's just that design pros know what they know, which is a shitty reason to give up on FOSS software to replace it. My only real gripe that bites me in GIMP is that I have focus-follows-mouse on, if I happen to tag the corner of another edit window while moving from the image I'm editing, all my palettes change, obviously, and many times I don't notice. Not much to be done about that though.

Fedora Extras (4, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974246)

For Fedora folks, XaraLX and XaraLX-examples are in the Extras repository, which is enabled by default. Just:

yum -y install XaraLX and XaraLX-examples

And Debian (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974517)

Haven't checked Sarge, but it's in Sid, version is 0.7r1692-2. An 8 MB download with the extras and SVG packages. Package: xaralx. I've tested it for five minutes, and I'm rather impressed.

Re:Fedora Extras (1)

bottlerocket (605232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15976178)

The new version is missing from the Ubuntu repositories. It's not in the repository for the upcoming 6.10 (Edgy) release, which goes into Feature Freeze next week [ubuntu.com] . Hopefully, it'll still make it in. I believe packages in the Universe repository, which Xara falls under, can be upgraded right up until Edgy reaches beta.

Debian debs (2, Informative)

51mon (566265) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974544)

As no one with Debian uses it, or looks in it, but XaraLX is in "non-free" for Etch and Sid. Looks like the maintainer upgraded it to 0.7 in Sid, Etch is 0.6 currently.

Screen Shot mirrors up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15974787)

Just to let slashdot users know, a few mirrors of the screen shots are now up and running.

My apologies for any problems you may have encountered in getting to our site.

Graeme
Xara

That's not amazing vector artwork (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974949)

Now THIS [blogspot.com] is some amazing photorealistic vector artwork.

Snore. (-1, Troll)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975084)

So it does raster graphics, vector graphics and has some innovative features that Illustrator doesn't? As a designer, I might be really interested if this ran on OS X using a Carbon UI - hell, if it's stable (I tried to use inkscape, the bugger crashed every time I tried to load it) I'd even fire up X to run it.

But alas, it's on Linux, and, well, that's just soooo 2001.

Got it, runnin it. (1)

hullabalucination (886901) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975352)

Running the 0.7 version under Fedora (build 1560) and it looks good so far but haven't done a great deal with it. It's still missing a lot of the bells and whistles (animation, color management), but basic functionality is there. Xara EPS exports open right up in Ghostscript/Scribus so it's already useful on some level.

Apparently, the crew over at Inkscape http://www.inkscape.org/ [inkscape.org] are collaborating in some way with the Xara people so it will be interesting to see if/how this changes/improves either app.

* * * * * *

Adobe Illustrator is a software engineer's misconception of how an artist works.
CorelDraw is an artist's misconception of how a software engineer works.

I'll stick to Blender for the moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15975414)

I think I will stick with Blender for the time being. The hair/cloth effects are starting to work really well, the animation and compositing systems have been improved, the armatures are getting more sophisticated, it interacts very well with The Gimp, and you can produce animations directly using Blenders internal renderer, Yafray or Povray (then on to MPEG, all within the package). There are more PhD's working on it this summer again via Googles summer of code, and while the story lines were very thin, the graphics and capabilities demonstrated in last summers films were very impressive. It's good to see another package in the works.

Xara vs Inkscape (1)

zer0halo (704731) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975537)

I don't mean to start a "this is better" thread, but does anyone know of a review showing the strengths and weaknesses of Xara vs. Inkscape (besides the latter supporting SVG). In other words, if I'm looking for a vector graphics tool on Linux (used to use Illustrator on Windows before moving to Linux) which should I use?

Inkscape Printing isn't there yet. (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 7 years ago | (#15975797)

I've had a lot of trouble trying to print from Inkscape (in Windows). Xara is miles ahead in that department -- and that's using a version from 2002 or so. Also, Xara is FAST - for simple drawings, it doesn't matter, but the bigger the image gets, the longer Inkscape takes to render. Oh, and the bitmap tracer in Xara (@2002) is awesome.

That's not to say that Inkscape isn't a great program -- it is.
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