General Enhancements Drawing and Design Features Text Features Photo Features Web Features Other Minor Enhancements

General Enhancements

Totally re-designed application appearance

​There's an all-new look to Designer, including modern skin and icons.  You can see some screenshots here.

Hierarchical Designs Gallery

​A hierarchical arrangement of the Designs Gallery makes it far easier to find the template you're looking for at a glance.

Automatic backup of all open documents

A new set of controls in the Options dialog provides an automatic backup facility where the program can regularly save copies of all open documents. You can set the folder where these backups are saved, and how often the backup occurs.​

New fly-out tools and buttons

Fly-out tools and buttons present a simpler user interface, but with direct one-click access to a wider range of common functions. Many buttons now have a fly-out menu with related options. These buttons have been carefully designed so that you can still get to the main function with a single click of the button, but also very quickly access any of the additional options without any extra clicks.​

Auto-updating Designs Gallery

​The Designs Gallery includes new 'download' sections and content, that can be updated remotely by Xara.

Automatic save and restore of open documents on application closedown

You can now just close Designer (or shut down your computer) and Designer saves all open documents and restores them the next time you start the program. ​

Drawing and Design Features

Drawing Tool improvements

  • ​A new straight line /arrowhead tool. This provides a really simple way to draw single-segment straight lines and a new way to control the arrow head and tail on any line
  • Solid, live shape drawing. When creating new shapes such as rectangles, ellipses and quickshapes you'll now see a solid filled shape as you drag across the page (instead of an outline). It's far more WYSIWYG, you'll see the correct fill and line color as you drag
  • Similarly drawing lines with the Freehand tool is now solid WYSIWYG live line drawing. This works even if you have a fat line, feathered and with a line profile
  • A new Sketch Mode button on the Infobar of the Freehand tool removes the automatic line joining feature, so that you can rapidly draw lines without worrying about them being automatically attached, great for sketching
  • Balanced bezier editing. Using the Shape Editor tool, simply hold Shift down and both ends of the bezier control points will be equidistant from the center point. This enables more rounded or balanced bezier curves to be drawn going through a point
  • Solid blend update. When you edit one end of a blend, (Ctrl+click to select the shape inside the blend) this is now also real-time solid update.

Opacity Masks

​A new and powerful way of defining and applying transparency.  Sometimes you need a more advanced transparency shape than simple flat or graduated transparency can provide, for example if you wanted to apply a soft variable transparency around a central object in a photo.  Opacity masks are a way of defining irregular transparency shapes based on a drawn object or group of objects.

Improved Page & Layer Gallery, with new 'Solo' mode

​​The updated Page & Layer Gallery (replaces the Object Gallery) offers better page and layer management,  including a new 'Solo' mode which allows a specific layer to be viewed and worked on in isolation, and a new 'Layers' mode which adjusts the Gallery to show just the layers for the current page.  You can also move directly to any page in a long document by clicking on the page in the Gallery. Plus the Page & Layer Gallery includes a new 'Find' mode which automatically adjusts the Gallery to find and show the currently selected item in the tree structure, collapsing everything else.

Easier control of graphic styles (attributes)

There is a major change in the way that attributes (the appearance or 'style' of an object) are applied to a newly drawn object or line. Now a new object can take on the style of the last selected object, rather than the last drawn. It sounds like a small change, but is more intuitive and more powerful - for example you can copy the style of any object by just selecting it then drawing a new object.

Enhanced pressure support

​Support for pressure sensitive tablets has been re-written so it's much more accurate and responsive. This also works as solid real-time variable-width rendering as you draw with a pressure pen on a tablet.

New Enhance Transparency Type

​Enhance Transparency allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, color saturation and color temperature of any part of your document, including text and drawings.

Simply create your floating ‘enhance transparency shape’, and use the Photo tool controls to set its brightness, contrast etc. Objects with Enhance Transparency are just perfectly normal objects which can can be placed over any drawing, not just photos. They act like other transparency types, showing the objects underneath the shape, but the items under it are 'enhanced'.

You can use the Transparency slider to adjust the overall transparency or 'blend' of the effect and even apply graduated transparency to create a gradual fade of the enhance effect.

Selector Tool perimeter and area info

The InfoBar in the Selector tool has two new fields displaying the perimeter length of any selected closed shape or the line length, and the area of any closed shape. Particularly useful for plans where you have set up accurate unit scaling.

New paste style fly-out

​There is a new copy / paste fly-out bar on the top toolbar, which provides direct access to the common clipboard operations: Cut, Copy, Paste, Paste in same position, Paste Attributes (an easy way of copying the style or appearance from one object to another) and Paste Opacity Mask (see above).

Text Features

Enhanced Text tool

​The Text tool has been improved to include bullets, numbered lists and indents.

Text Tool Find & Replace

A real-time search and replace function has been added to the Text tool which can search the current story, page or whole document.

Photo Features

Content Aware Scaling and Zoom

​This has been enhanced with some innovative new intelligent scaling features.

  • Content-aware photo zoom. An alternative to content aware scaling (CAS) whereby the photo remains the same size and the content is intelligently zoomed inside it.
  • Alternative 'Content Aware Scale'. When stretching photos there is now two alternative ways to scale the image.  The existing method of just dragging the size arrows works as before, but is not so good with some image types. Now, holding the Alt key when dragging one of the side handles in the content-aware scale tool performs a different intelligent scale using an alternative algorithm that will work better with some photos.
  • Single prepare button for CAS and CAZ. We have improved the 'prepare' time and combined the two previous H and V buttons into one.

Clone area tool

​This is an entirely new tool on the Photo tool fly-out to make it easier to 'erase' region of photos by copying (cloning) parts of a photo from one place to another, even from one photo to another.

In the Clone tool you simply draw a freehand line around the area you want to erase (the clone shape is shown as a 'marching ants' dotted outline) then just drag anywhere on the photo outside the clone area to pick the new source for this area. You can resize the clone and feather the edge to achieve near perfect results.

Perspective Correction Tool

​This is a new tool available on the Photo tool fly-out,  a simple one-click way to automatically correct common perspective effects.

Brightness Curves

​In the Levels dialog you can now create a manual brightness curve which provides very detailed and advanced control over brightness levels for any photos.

Optimizing Photos

  • ​Auto-downsizing of imported photos. Most modern digital cameras produce very high resolution images, that are typically unnecessarily large. These take a lot of memory and can produce very large files.  When you import a photo using drag 'n' drop from your File Explorer or using the Import menu, the program now offers you the option to reduce the resolution. If you select to have images reduced they are created at 1920 pixels wide, which is typically good enough for any screen and most print work, reducing the memory consumption down to about 300Kbytes on average per picture.
  • Optimize all JPEGS. A new menu option, Utilities -> Optimize all JPEGs is a quick way to reduce the file size of documents containing many JPEG photos.

Vector Based Photo Enhance & Photo Groups

​You can now perform selective enhancements (brightness, contrast, saturation, warm/cool color temperature, blur/sharpen, levels) to any part or region of a photo using the Mask feature (now at the bottom of the main toolbar). You can adjust the blend of the effect by using the Transparency tool, for example by creating a graduated transparency you can create a faded enhance effect.  And the Feather slider can be used to create soft edges to your enhanced region.

You can create any number of successive enhance areas, one on top of another, using the same technique.  This provides a very powerful method of adjusting the brightness, contrast, blur etc of areas of photos in a fully editable, non-destructive, reversible manner.

Such photo edits now create a new 'Photo Group', which acts like a normal photo for most purposes, but is also a Group that contains all the individual edits as overlaid vector objects. Photo Groups can be disassembled into their constituent objects, you can still select the 'edit shapes' that are inside the group and you can 'flatten' a Photo Group into a normal JPEG. 

EXIF viewer

​In the Photo tool fly-out is an EXIF dialog, semi transparent and configurable, which shows the embedded EXIF values of a JPEG photo. EXIF data is now preserved on export of JPEG photos and across an Optimize Photo operation.

Simplified photo editing workflow

​Now you can just open a JPEG, edit it, and click Save to get an edited JPEG saved back in its place.  It’s a faster and simpler workflow than before, doing away with the need for separate saves of the .xar file and export of the JPEG. And yet the the original master JPEG is still retained and can be recovered or restored at any time, there is still a lossless editing cycle, and you can still open an edited JPEG file and remove or undo the edits you've performed on the image.

Edge Trace for freehand drawing

In the Freehand tool, there is a new option on the Infobar which can assist in drawing of vector lines around the outline of high-contrast shapes or objects in photos.  Simply select this option, and then draw around the edge of the shape, and the program will analyse the underlying image and draw the line along the edge.

1:1 Photo Resize at 100%

​Normally when you resize a photo in Designer it retains the original image and just changes the resolution to fit the required size on the page (this means all resize operations are lossless, non-destructive, and resizing an image back up will result in a sharp non-blurred image again.) Sometimes it's useful however to have a 1:1 mapping between image pixels and screen pixels, so you know at 100% zoom that you are seeing the full resolution, non-scaled image. So now in the Photo tool on the Infobar there is a new icon which will resize the image back to be 1:1 at 100% zoom (in other words 96dpi - the same resolution as the screen).

Web Features

Significantly enhanced NavBar handling and DHTML menu support

  • A new NavBar 'object' which can be dragged around as a single graphic
  • Take any button design and quickly turn it into a horizontal or vertical NavBar
  • Intelligent automatic button stretching so the button width adjusts as you edit the button text
  • Option to have all buttons the same width or each to be as wide as the text label
  • Ability to create an automatic NavBar with buttons linked to all pages of your website. The NavBar is updated as you add / remove pages
  • Auto-highlighting of 'current page' NavBar buttons
  • Support for DHTML sub-menus with various animation and transparency effects

Drag 'n' drop Widgets from the Designs Gallery, and a new Widget library

​New sections in the Designs Gallery provide a wide range of 'widgets' which can be drag & dropped onto your website. The Widgets provide interactive website add-ons ranging from movie players, to e-commerce features (e.g. a 'Buy' button to sell goods or services from your website) forms, maps and lots more.

An easy way to add links to (and upload) external files such as PDF, Flash and Word files

​You can link to external files using a new option in the Link dialog. Selecting a file such as a Word document will attach the file and upload it to your website. Clicking the link on the website will let your visitor download (or open) the file. You can also drag & drop .PDF and .SWF (flash) files onto the page which will also attach the file to the website for upload next time you Publish. In the case of Flash (.swf) files these are embedded into the page and a static preview is automatically created. This can be resized on the page. In the case of PDF files a PDF icon is added to the page, and the PDF file uploaded to your website which if clicked will open the PDF file in the web browser.

FTP details can be stored with the document

​The Publish Properties dialog now offers the ability to save the FTP details with the document. This is great if you have multiple websites published to different server locations or under different domains. In addition you can choose to save the FTP password with the file (to be used with caution!).

Free web hosting offer

Designer now comes with a free website hosting offer from MAGIX, so you can publish your website as part of Magix-Online world.​ The offer includes 500MB of storage and your own web address.

New 'complete website' designs

​Every theme now includes a ready-made fully linked up 8-page website, so you can quickly and easily create whole sites.

Create a slideshow and Next / Previous on a gallery or any number of thumbnails

​If you have a number of thumbnail photos with the pop-up effect on the page, you can now show this as a slideshow, with Next / Previous / Play / Pause controls and an optional thumbnail strip shown at the bottom of the window.

Support for justified text

​We've added support for fully justified text on web pages, and this even works with text flow-around features.

Enhanced page color and background color support

​By default the website background color takes on the color of your page. The default is white, but you can change this by simply dragging any other color onto the page. But also if you drag a color onto the pasteboard area (the grey area surrounding the page) you can now create a different colored page surround, giving a more WYSIWYG result.

New time-saving 'Preview current page'and 'Preview whole document' options

​The Preview icon on the top bar is a new style fly-out with 2 options; Preview current page, and preview whole website.

Drag 'n' drop color schemes for instant color changes

​Instead of editing each individual named Theme Color, you can now instantly alter the whole color scheme of your website by simply dropping the color swatches in the Designs Gallery onto your page. Every theme has a collection of ready-made color schemes, plus you can easily add new ones of your own.

HTML snippets can be pasted directly into your document, with an automatic preview/placeholder created

​Many website add-ons and widgets provide a snippet of HTML to embed into your page. Designer can now accept just pasting this snippet. What's more, it detects this is an HTML snippet and automatically creates a placeholder on the page, with a static preview of the snippet. Now it couldn't be easier to add snippets to your page, and you can position them anywhere on your web page.

Incremental Publishing

​When you publish your website Designer now uploads only the files changed since the last publish operation. This provides a huge performance gain when editing large websites, particularly if you have large attachments such as video files.

Named FTP profiles

You can save the your FTP settings into a named profile, especially useful if you manage multiple websites under different domains. The Profile list can contain third party profiles, such as MAGIX free web hosting. ​

A large selection of new designs in the Designs Gallery

​Many of the existing designs have been updated plus there's a large collection of completely new designs, both themes and individual web graphics including new NavBar and 'graphics' folders.  You can see a preview of all page themes here.

Enhanced photo thumbnail pop-ups

​The animated photo pop-up effects (where clicking on a photo thumbnail pops-up a larger version) have been improved to provide higher quality animation effects, an optional soft shadow, title and captions and page dimming (the page under the pop-up can be dimmed).

Auto filling of the photo-gallery via simple drag 'n' drop

​If you drag and drop a selection of image files onto a page of thumbnails, such as any photo gallery design from the templates (each Theme has one 'photo gallery' layout), it will automatically populate the gallery.

Easy MP4 video upload and built-in video player

​Drag 'n' drop an MP4 video file onto the page, and it embeds a Flash video player to play the file, and automatically uploads the video file to your web-server!

Ability to support rounded-corner pages, add drop shadows to the page and set the vertical offset

​If you enable page coloring (by dragging a color onto the pasteboard), then in the Page & Layer gallery a new Page Background layer is enabled, locked by default. If you unlock this layer you can adjust the page rectangle's soft shadow using the Shadow tool, and also make it a rounded rectangle (using the Rectangle tool). This enables very easy rounded rectangle page backgrounds.

If you enable a page background this way you can adjust the vertical offset of the page relative to the top of the browser window by setting the ruler page origin.

Advanced: Simpler HTML and 'pure HTML' paragraphs

​There are improvements to the quality of HTML including better use of CSS. Plus for advanced users who want 'pure HTML blocks' you can now override the individual line positioning and force each paragraph of text to be output as a single unbroken HTML <p> block of text.

Other Minor Enhancements

Other improvements include:

  • ​The Screen Capture tool (Utilities -> Screen capture..) now provides the option to capture after a set time-out period. So, for example, you can capture menus or other pop-up items that would otherwise disappear if you had a key-press capture trigger
  • New templates, in particular interactive presentations and a new web graphics category
  • Photo Optimize dialog simplified
  • Photo tool enhance attributes can now be blended using the Blend tool
  • Panorama tool: General stitching and blending improvements
  • Pasting bitmaps from the system clipboard no longer offers the choice of DIB or Bitmap, it just pastes as Bitmap. Advanced users can restore the old behaviour with the registry option: Clipboard/AllowPasteAsDIB
  • Ctrl-Click (select inside group) on a text line will now select the text object and not the individual character you click on
  • Pixel units can be entered as px or pix

  • Automatic crash reporting - dump a stack trace to disk and, with the user’s permission, transmit to Xara
  • PDF export: Reduced memory requirements when exporting
  • PDF import improvements
  • Clipview behaviour changes. Keyhole controls have gone which reduces on-screen clutter, and now there is right click menu to select the clip shape or the contents of the clipview
  • When adding a new section of a line the smoothing control will now smooth the whole line rather than just the last section
  • All sliders can now be adjusted using the mouse-wheel by just holding the pointer over the slider. No need to give the slider focus first
  • There's a new option in the Help menu to reset the Alert dialogs so they can be made to appear again
  • New cameras supported for RAW import
  • An updated Xara Xone tutorials CD and Quick Reference Card