Software Reviews - Xara's Webster
Xara Webster Rave-view
This review covers Webster from Xara.
Welcome to the world of vector graphics! Vector graphics, as opposed to bitmap graphics, enable you to resize elements within an image without decreasing the quality of the image. Figure 3.1 is an example of enlarging a vector graphic and a bitmap graphic.
The arrow in the middle is the original vector clip-art button. The image to its left is the same image enlarged as a vector graphic and the one to the right is the arrow enlarged after it has been converted to a bitmap. Note how the bitmap shows quite a bit of pixelation from the enlarging and how there is no pixelation whatsoever with the vector graphic.
Another property of vector graphics is that you can move one element around within an image without disturbing any of the other elements. In other words, any one object can be moved forwards or backwards with respect to other objects. This gives the artist/designer a great deal of power. Say, for instance, you place some text in an image and later want to move the text, resize it, or change its color. If you were working with a bitmap program such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro you may very well have to recreate the image from scratch (in Photoshop versions above 2.5 you can, of course, use layers as a way around this limitation). With a vector program, however, you simply click-and-drag the text to move it, grab it by a handle to resize it, or select it and simply choose a new color. This is where Xara's Webster comes in.
Xara Webster, although somewhat limited as a drawing tool, does what it does very well and with great ease. Using pre-created clipart, Webster enables the graphically challenged to create web page elements that have a truly professional quality. Webster, a new product from the British company, Xara (http://www.xara.com), comes with a short movie clip that introduces the program and its features. This inexpensive program also comes with a built-in collection of web-related clip-art. There are tons of buttons, bullets, shapes and more. Enough to get you started. If that weren't enough, there is a quick-link from the program to Xara's web site. Xara intends to keep the clip-art collection growing and readily available through their web site.
Webster can export GIF (and animated GIF), JPG, BMP, PNG, XAR, and WEB file types. It can also import these and many more including AI, EPS and CDR. It's this availability of WEB files that's really important. Unlike GIF and JPG, WEB files are a vector-based format created especially for the Web. As I stated above, the benefit to you as a web graphics designer is greater power over image manipulation.
Figure 3.2, for example was created in minutes using some of the available clip-art.
Once I had selected the elements I wanted, I stretched the arrows so that the text I wanted would fit. I added the text, and moved the arrows and the button into place with the help of the grid and the snap-to-grid options, both of which can be turned on and off as needed. Once I was satisfied with the placement of the elements, I exported the image as a web-ready GIF.
Although Webster is not a drawing program in its own right, there are a couple of effects you can easily create. Figure 3.3 demonstrates how shearing and graduated transparency effects can combine to create a cast shadow.
Again, this image was accomplished in mere minutes.
I've barely touched on some of what can be done with Webster, but:
- If you have the need to create and manipulate web graphics quickly, Webster might be the answer
- If you're tired of the clone-like buttons available for free that can't be easily changed to suit your needs, then Webster might be the answer, too
- If you'd like to create simple GIF animations, then Webster might be the answer, again
- If you're curious about vector graphics or have access to a collection of Xara, Illustrator, or Corel DRAW clip-art, then Xara Webster is definitely worth looking at
That's it for now... Be sure to check out some of our other Rave-views!
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