The Outsider's Featured Tutorials are selected from a variety of sources including the best tutorials from the impressive archive on The Xara Xone (created by Gary Priester), Guest Tutorials submitted by Xara enthusiasts and new material created by Xara.

This month's Xara Xtreme Pro Preview is reproduced from Gary Priester's Workbook 53 in The Xara Xone.

Xara Xtreme Pro Preview, by Gary Priester

Xara Xtreme represented a great leap forward in vector drawing applications. But for some, Xtreme lacked many high end professional design tools. Also, many useful features such as Pantone color palettes and prepress features were left out of Xtreme. Well, Xara Xtreme Pro has all the features and high end tools to empower design professionals and power users alike.

New enhanced PDF support

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

Adobe's PDF (Portable Document File) file format has radically changed the way we exchange documents; from simple shared documents between offices, to documents to be posted on the Web, to very elaborate PDF/X documents that most printing companies demand. PDF/X has seen many changes in the past few years and is currently at PDF/X3.

Xara Xtreme has the capability to create a basic PDF file. But there are capabilities missing. None the least of these is lack of support for CMYK color space. Another problem Xtreme users encountered is transparency, which made converting a PDF document to PDF/X difficult.

Designers who require good solid PDF/X, files are going to be happy campers with Xara Xtreme Pro. Transparency is automatically flattened, problem objects like drop shadows and bevels convert to CMYK color space, and there are a list of industry standard Output Intent specs to chose from. And there is something for the rest of us as well including the ability to export a Xara document with multiple layers with each layer on its own PDF document page.

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

There are a daunting number of choices to be made when outputting a PDF file. Xtreme Pro starts off with presets for the more popular options. So even if you are clueless about PDF files, there is bound to be a preset that addresses your needs as you can see in the new Presets dialog shown above. Select one of the options, press Export and let Xtreme Pro do the heavy lifting.

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

For the professional users, press the Advanced Options button and you will find a wealth of options. Xtreme Pro supports Adobe Reader versions 4-7 and PDF/X 1a - 3 (2003). All PDF/X documents default to CMYK color models. Non PDF/X versions can be set to RGB, Native or CMYK color models. Font Subset embeds only the characters used in your document. So, for example, if you only have 3 words in a particular font, only the characters used will be embedded in the file. As you can see on the bottom of the Export Options dialog, you can export a multiple page document, or just a selection.

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

You can include a description of your document including Title, Author, Subject and Keywords. And here's a really cool new feature, you can embed another file in your PDF document such as the Flash animation I just created in Xtreme Pro. Or you could embed a XAR file. (The recipient will need Xtreme —or any other programs used to generate the embedded file, to open the embedded file or files).

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

If you specify a non-PDF/X format, you can include layers in your document. You can have your layers print on separate pages. At first this seemed like a cool way to create a multiple page document. But with the new support for multiple pages, you can create a multipage document, and export it to any of the Reader or PDF/X types, and Xtreme will create a multipage PDF document. The Reader comments layer can be toggled off and on and you can include your own comments and add them to the Readers layer.

Xara Xtreme Pro - PDF Support

Xtreme Pro contains a list of standard industry Output Intent profiles. These are useful when preparing a document for a certain type of printing for example newspaper, or coated or uncoated printing stock, or web coated for magazine work. If you're not sure which option to select, ask your printing company professional.

You can append other PDF documents to your current document? So you can take pages 2,3, and 5 from one document and pages 16-20 from another document and incorporate them into your current document.

There are too many new features to discuss here but I think you get the idea. The powerful new PDF support is a major improvement for both the clued and the clueless.


Back by Popular Demand!

To make Xara Xtreme affordable to the greatest number of users, and to keep the program file size manageable, several features included in Xara X and X1 were left out of Xara Xtreme. These popular features are back in Xtreme Pro and include:

Xara Xtreme Pro - Back by Popular Demand

You can see the density and intensity of each CMYK color in the Show Printer Colors dialog. Shown above is the magenta component. You can also opt to view the CMYK components as Black to gauge just the value (the amount of light and dark) in each color). Simulate Print Colors has been around for several versions and gives an approximation of how the colors on the screen will look with printed in CMYK.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Back by Popular Demand

The Image Setting and Separations tabs are back giving you greater flexibility when exporting an EPS file. Once set, these controls also apply to PDF output.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Back by Popular Demand

The exclusion of the Pantone spot and CMYK libraries in Xtreme was one reason many users kept their old versions of Xara X1. The Pantone color libraries are back so you can donate those copies to Xara X to charity.

New Photoshop PSD import and export support

Xara Xtreme introduced the XPE (Xara Picture Editor) which is a dandy photo editing module that does many of the things we used to do in Photoshop or PaintShop Pro, or in Corel Photo-Paint. And while XPE is excellent for the things it does, let's face it, it's no Photoshop! (On the other hand, Photoshop is no Xara Xtreme Pro, so there!)

Xara Xtreme can import and export Photoshop *.PSD file format, but only as flat images. Layers are not supported.

Until now, the only way to get a Xara document with multiple layers with transparency into Photoshop with the layers intact and editable is to use the *.PNG export and the Export each layer to a file of its own option and then reassemble the layers in Photoshop. It is a bit kludgy, but it works.

Photoshop users, rejoice! Xtreme Pro now supports layers with transparency in and out of Photoshop!

Xara Xtreme Pro - Photoshop PSD Layers Support

I prepared this simple postcard image and placed each element on a separate layer.

    NOTE: Xtreme Pro supports Mix, Bleach and Stained Glass transparency. But you can only have one type of transparency for each layer. Refer to the Help menu for more detail. Xara is currently working on adding support for other transparency types and will add this support in the near future.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Photoshop PSD Layers Support

I exported the layers to *.PSD at 300dpi.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Photoshop PSD Layers Support

Here is the same image in Photoshop CS2. The layers came in in the same order and the transparency was maintained. I added a glow shadow to the Text layer to demonstrate the independence and transparency of the layers. I also added a Lens Flare effect and saved the file as Photoshop *.PSD with layers.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Photoshop PSD Layers Support

The screen shot above shows the file imported back into Xtreme Pro. All the layer names remained the same and you can see that the transparency remained with the image.

    NOTE: Not all of Photoshop's transparency "blending modes" import back and many of Xtreme Pro's transparency types do not come into Photoshop. When in doubt, stick to the basics, Mix, Bleach and Stained Glass which translate into Photoshop's Normal, Screen and Multiply.

XPE - Levels Adjustment

One of the controls missing from Xtreme's XPE was Levels, an adjustment that lets you control the darks, lights and middle tones independently.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Levels Support

The above photo of the Sacred Datura (the New Mexico flower Georgia O'Keefe made famous), came out a bit dark. Your editor's digital camera was having a hard time deciding what to meter and so it decided to retain the detail in the white of the flowers which caused the leaves to be way to dark.

We could use the Brightness control in XPE's Enhance dialog, but the detail in the flowers would wash out. Levels are what is called for.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Levels Support

The screen shot above shows the result of my fiddling around with the sliders. The detail in the white flowers is retained while the middle tone values of the leaves are lighter.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Levels Support

Here's the After photo. The dirt and leaves are lighter, and the detail in the white of the flower has been preserved. Levels are a powerful tool that when combined with the other features of the Xara Picture Editor, make XPE a very powerful image editor.

Multiple page document support

Xara users who have used CorelDRAW have always requested multipage capability. Wait no longer, multipage documents are here in Xara Xtreme Pro. And once you use them, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them. Honest.

A good example. I used to do my tutorial illustrations on a custom template I created with 4 illustrations per page. I would save each 4 illustrations as a separate file. Now I can just keep adding pages.

You can print any or all pages and you can export an entire multipage document as a multipage PDF document.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Multipage Support

The first sign of the multipage capability is a new icon on the Infobar representing 2 pieces of paper and a +. Let your cursor rest over the icon and you discover the rather lengthy name for this icon. And I always thought Change the Size of the Feather Region was long for a tool tip! Press this add new page icon and a new page, just like the one you are currently working on is added. If you have guidelines on your current page, they will be added to the new page as well.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Multipage Support

There is also a new addition to the Edit menu, Pages, which offers more new page options. Duplicate Current Page creates a new page with everything that is on the current page including Guidelines. Move Page Up and Move Page Down applies to the current page. Clicking anywhere on a page establishes it as the current page.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Multipage Support

You can navigate up and down through the document by pressing the new up and down arrows on the bottom right of the Status Bar.

You can drag objects or drag and drop objects from one page to another though it is a bit disconcerting to see these objects disappear between the pages but reassuring when they reappear on the new page.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Multipage Support

Which brings us to the redesigned Print dialog. When printing a multipage document, you can print All Pages, the Selected Page (the current page), or a range of pages, Page Range . Separate page numbers with a comma for individual pages, for example, pages 2, 4, and 7. Use a hyphen to indicate a range of pages, for example pages 6-12. You can also print a combination of comma separated individual pages and a hyphen separated set of sequential pages.


To indicate the currently selected page (you can simply click on a page to select it), a small gray corner bracket such as the one shown above, appears on all 4 corners.


New Text tool paragraph formatting

Along with the new multipage support, Xara Xtreme Pro has enhanced paragraph editing capabilities including tabs, and indents making it an excellent tool for desktop publishing.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

The example shown above begins with two automatically indented paragraphs. Once the paragraph indent has been set it remains in place until you change it again. So you can do an entire page of formatted text or you can change the text as needed. 

You can create hanging indents. You can adjust the left and right margins, and you can add 4 kinds of tab stops.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

Another very small icon with a long long tool tip. The Tab icon works like this. Click the tab to sequence through the 4 Tab types in the following order: 1. Left align, 2. Right align, 3. Center align, 4. Decimal. Select the tab type you wish to add, then click on the screen ruler to add the tab. You can move the tab once it is on the ruler. A tab is indicated by a white filled triangle pointing down.

To create a hanging indent which your editor has used to make the paragraph numbers "hang" on the left, adjust the First Line and then Left Margin triangles. For a normally indented paragraph, these 2 settings are reversed.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

When you drag a tab to a new location the cursor changes to an black outlined down facing triangle with arrows on either side. You can delete a tab by dragging if off of the ruler. Just drag the tab off the ruler and the cursor changes to a red open down facing triangle with a small X.

NEW Text Areas

Here is another powerful desktop publishing tool. Xtreme Pro now supports text flow. Users of desktop publishing programs will be familiar with this concept. Here's how it works in Xtreme Pro .

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

Click the Text Tool on the page to define the text area. You can edit the size of the area later if you wish.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

Key in your text or paste your text from the clipboard.

If the text overflows the text area, a red square with a white down-facing triangle appears. The text that is grayed out is the text that is being cut off. You can drag any of the corner red control handles to resize the text area in any direction to determine what the last line of text will be.

    TIP: Use guidelines to mark the columns and snap the text areas to the guidelines for greater accuracy.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

If you click the red box with the triangle at the bottom of the text area, the cursor changes to show two rectangles with an arrow going from left to right. Click and drag a new area into which the text will flow.

And of course the text can be formatted with paragraph indents, hanging indents, tabs, and left and right margin adjustments, as well as all the other text formatting adjustments such as tracking, kerning, line spacing, etc.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

When you select text in the first text area, the red box changes to gray and a gray arrow points to the top of the next text container.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Enhanced paragraph text tool

You can resize the text box by dragging any of the red corner control handles in any direction with the Text Tool. The text reflows accordingly.

A final note. Text can flow from one page to another so you can create multipage documents and flow the text from page to page.

I don't know about your, but your editor finds this all very exciting.

Xara Xtreme ProŚnew flash animation

Xara has had the ability to create GIF animations as well as Flash images for some time. But if you wanted to create a Flash animation, you needed to use Flash, or Swish or another Flash front end program to incorporate the Xara created SWF pages. Xtreme Pro has added a very simple and efficient way to produce and preview Flash movies. Now you have the ability to use the strength and flexibility of the world's very best drawing program to create some very exciting Flash animations. I'll cover the basics here.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

Press the New Animation icon on the Infobar.

A New Animation Help dialog appears with help for both GIF and Flash animations. For those who are not familiar with animation, GIF animations use bitmap images and are best used for small animations as the file size can grow quite large very quickly. Flash animation is best used for vector objects and type though you can also create some cool effects with bitmaps.

In Xtreme Pro, you add a start and end object and then let Xtreme Pro "tween" (an abbreviation for in between since a series of in between steps are automatically created) the animation steps based on the number of frames per second and how many seconds long your scene is. It's kind of like a blend.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

Each animation object needs to be named and needs a start and end object. In this example an 8 sided QuickShape object was created. Click the yellow tag icon (Create New Names) and name your object, or let Xtreme Pro name it for you. Press Create.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

Press the Copy Frame icon (shown above). A new frame is created with all the objects from the previous frame. In this case just the QuickShape.

Modify the object to the end state. In the example above, the QuickShapes was moved to the right, rotated 180 degrees, and made almost transparent.


Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

Press Animation Properties and determine a display time. This animation is set to 3 seconds which will create a very slow animation. Press Apply to apply the changes or OK to apply the changes and close the dialog.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

You can preview the animation in your browser (you will need to have the Adobe or Macromedia Flash player installed (click here to go to the free Flash player download page).

Press the Preview Flash Animation in Browser icon. A dialog appears to alert you of any tweening errors. For example, if your end object modifications do not work with the start object it will be listed. If you need help, just press the Help button.

Press OK and Xtreme Pro launches your browser and plays the animation.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Flash Animation

In essence, Xtreme Pro creates a blend of the start and end objects using the number of steps required and displays each transition object on a new frame.

This is a very simple example. The animation at the top of this page is a more complicated animation that used many objects and yet the file size is only about 14K.

When you are done, press the Export Flash Animation icon on the Infobar. And that is all there is to it.

Xtreme Pro Shortcuts

One of the most requested feature by power users is the ability to create custom keyboard shortcut commands. Xtreme Pro Shortcuts is a utility to do just that.

Please note: this utility was called Xortcuts Pro during beta testing, as reflected in the screenshots below which were created with an earlier version of the program.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Xortcuts keyboard shortcuts utility

Press Start, All Programs > Xara > Xtreme Pro Shortcuts.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Xtreme Pro Shortcuts keyboard shortcuts utility

The Help menu offers a simple overview.

Xara Xtreme Pro - Xtreme Pro Shortcuts keyboard shortcuts utility

Select an appropriate character then select a short cut key or keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt).

Press Add to add this to the current shortcuts window.

Press Save and Apply. Restart Xtreme Pro.

ę2006 Gary Priester from The Xara Xone