Not so long ago, I was wondering if I should buy Adobe illustrator or not. It's a good investment ($600 US), but you can go wrong with it since it's the industry standard.
In order to find the best tool for me, I even build a page about vector software and which tool should you choose.
The two major players are without any doubt Illustrator from Adobe and Corel Draw from Corel.
They are both used by most of professional artist but they are also very expensive. So that was it! I had to choose between these two!
That was until I discovered Xara xtreme. This software is very similar to Illustrator but with three major differences: it's faster, cheaper and easier to learn than Illustrator.
The official website is claiming that Xara can be up to 10 times faster than Illustrator. It's hard not to agree. Almost everything you see and create is happening in real time, right in front of you, with some very minor lag (but most of the time, none at all!). You just need to see it in action to believe it!
Xara is also very easy to learn, even if you never had any experience with a vector software. The website features some easy to follow video tutorials.
The help online can be limited compared to Illustrator, but it's so easy to learn that just by playing with it, you will probably learn 60% of what you really need to know.
And of course, Xara is way cheaper than Illustrator! The standard version is only $89 US! And if you need some advance features (color separation, XPS support, HD import, ect...), then the pro version is only $249 US (still a good $351 less than Illustrator!).
But the standard version is very adequate for most of us (that's the version I purchased and I'm pretty happy with it!).
Of course, this program is not perfect. The workspace looks more like windows 98 than Vista. And I'm still not convinced that all vector files created with Xara will come out OK on Illustrator (still need to test this issue).
But I still think that this is a very powerful software and that it could even be a good competitor to Illustrator if marketed properly.
I'm not the kind of person to get all excited for any reason. But what I did experience by playing with this software is truly amazing.
So if you are looking for a solid, affordable and very powerful vector software, I suggest you go to the official website and try it for yourself (free for 30 days). You'll be amaze by the power of this very promising product!
Note: Since the article was written, the name changed and the software had some modifications. I still use it and it is still a great investment! Try it now! :)
You can also read more about Xara here.