Xara Xtreme graphics Xpands its reach


Xara Xtreme is a graphics package that has been around for a long time. It has been running on Windows for at least ten years but was in existence even before that. In that time, it has established its reputation as being among the fastest graphics tools available. Under the hood, it's an object-oriented vector drawing program, but it handles photos and drawings with elegance and ease. The product literature claims that the package has pioneered many industry standards, such as vector anti-aliasing, first vector transparency, including graduated transparency. The latest versions contain such innovations as "real-time vector feathering and embedded JPEG". And, lest modesty should be imputed to the package's writers, it also has "the world's most efficient file storage and unrivalled performance" and is very easy to use. Marketing enthusiasm aside, the reviews available indicate that Xara Xtreme lives up to most of its hype and is a very solid value for the money.

Recognizing that there are worlds apart from Windows to conquer, the company is moving into the Linux and Mac platforms. At the end of 2005, it was announced that the program would be made available for Open Source development on those systems. The news "'went down a storm", says the site, and between March and May of 2006 there have been four successive downloads for Linux available. That indicates a lot of developer activity! The company has all the infrastructure in place for open-source development, from forums, mailing lists, and newsletters, right up to a complete development environment for those who don't have the appropriate system. (Information about Mac progress is available on the site).

This looks like a very exciting opportunity for software engineers and graphics users to have a hand in developing and improving an already excellent product, not to mention further freeing graphics users from the Windows universe.

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