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The Xara Group, Ltd.
Founded25 July 1981 (1981-07-25)[1]
United Kingdom and Germany
Key people
Charles Moir (founder)[2]
OwnerXara GmbH

Xara is an international software company founded in 1981, with an HQ in Berlin and development office in Hemel Hempstead, UK. It has developed software for a variety of computer platforms, in chronological order: the Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Z88, Atari ST, Acorn Archimedes, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and more recently web browser-based services.


The company was founded in 1981 by Charles Moir. It started by developing for various 8-bit systems, such as the Acorn Atom and BBC Micro.[2]. It was originally called Computer Concepts, Ltd.; the company name was changed to Xara, Ltd., in 1995, and later to The Xara Group, Ltd. iXara Ltd started to explore cloud developments, and since 2016 both companies have been subsidiaries of Xara GmbH.

Atari ST and Acorn Archimedes development[edit]

In 1986, they released its first piece of software for the next generation of computers, Fast ASM for the Atari ST. Development was focused on software for the Acorn Archimedes when it was released in 1987. ArtWorks, the predecessor to Xara Xtreme, was released on the Archimedes.[2]

Xara Networks[edit]

In 1995, a subsidiary company called Xara Networks, Ltd. was formed, specializing in the provision of high-bandwidth Internet connectivity to companies and ISPs. Xara Networks was subsequently sold to the ITG group in London, most commonly known for the Global Internet brand, and was subsequently renamed GX Networks.

Move to Windows[edit]

Early in the 1990s, Xara began developing for Microsoft Windows 95, as Acorn Computers struggled for market share. Artworks was rewritten from the ground up for the platform and in 1994 it was released as Xara Studio. This involved a team of 20+ developers, who worked for more than two years to produce a competitor to then market-leading drawing software CorelDRAW.[citation needed]

The Canadian company Corel brought the marketing rights of the software and re-branded it as CorelXARA. Corel marketed it as a web-oriented companion to CorelDRAW, but it was clearly designed as a stand-alone alternative to the older software.[citation needed] The arrangement with Corel ended after five years.[2]

In 2000, Xara released the software themselves as Xara X, which was superseded by Xara X¹ in 2004, then Xara Xtreme in 2005, later renamed Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. In 2006, an enhanced version was released, named Xara Xtreme Pro, later renamed Xara Designer Pro.[2]

Xara has released other Windows titles relating to publishing and design, for print and the web, including Web Designer, Page & Layout Designer and Xara 3D Maker.

Xara Cloud SaaS (Software as a Service)[edit]

Since 2015, Xara has offered cloud based services under the name of Xara Online Designer while in beta, with full release under the name Xara Cloud in 2018. Xara Cloud can be used to create, edit and share a range of business documents in a web browser using any device. These can be documents created with Xara's desktop titles, or any of the document templates provided by Xara Cloud.


Gaddesden Place in Hertfordshire

Since 1984, Xara's development has taken place in Gaddesden Place, Hemel Hempstead, an 18th-century Palladian style villa, designed by the celebrated architect James Wyatt, built in 1768 and reputed to be his first building in the UK.[3] Xara HQ is now in Berlin.

List of products by platform[edit]

BBC Micro[edit]

  • Wordwise – a ROM based word processor
  • Disc Doctor – utility software
  • Graphics ROM – graphics utilities
  • SpellMaster – a ROM-based spell checker. Believed to be the world's first check-as-you-type spell checker
  • Inter-Word, Inter-Sheet, Inter-Chart, Inter-Base – a suite of ROM based productivity applications

Atari ST[edit]

  • Fast ASM (1986) – 68000 assembler
  • Fast BASIC – a ROM-based, BBC BASIC-like semi-compiled BASIC language

Acorn Archimedes / RISC OS[edit]

  • ArtWorks (1991) – vector graphics drawing software. Predecessor to Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. The first drawing program to offer real-time vector anti-aliasing.[citation needed] MW Software continued development from 1996 onwards.[4]
  • Impression – desktop publishing package (and variants Impression Style, Impression Publisher)
  • Equasor – equation building tool
  • AudioWorks – audio editor
  • WordWorks – English dictionary and Thesaurus
  • TurboDrivers – a range of printer drivers
  • MacFS – utility to read and write Apple Mac discs
  • Compression – general purpose compression utility, similar to ZIP (file format)

The company also developed a range of hardware for the Acorn Archimedes including:

  • ColourCard – graphics card – providing a secondary framebuffer based on the Inmos G332, supporting display modes with higher resolutions and refresh rates, introducing individually programmable 24-bit palette entries to 256-colour modes (and thus permitting smoother colour gradients)[5], and also offering display modes with 15 and 16 bits-per-pixel colour (these being for non-desktop use due to limitations with RISC OS at the time of introduction)[6]
  • ScanLight – a range of hand-held and flatbed scanners and software
  • LaserDirect – a range of laser printers. The company developed the world's first 600dpi that retailed under £1000 (it purchased printer engines from Canon Inc, and using its own drivers and laser modulation techniques (hardware and software) was able to increase the resolution to 600 dpi.[citation needed]


  • Xara Studio (1994)
  • CorelXARA (1996)
  • Xara Webstyle (1998)
  • Xara X (2000)
  • Xara X¹ (2004)
  • Xara Xtreme (2005)
  • Xara Xtreme Pro (2006)
  • Xara 3D Maker – creates 3D text, graphics and animations such as headings, logos, titles and buttons
  • Xara Web Designer (2009) – WYSIWYG web design program
  • Xara Page & Layout Designer (2013) – combines page layout, word processor and image editing capabilities
  • Xara Photo & Graphic Designer – vector illustration, photo editing & graphic design
  • Xara Designer Pro – combines the features and content of Web Designer, Photo & Graphic Designer, and Page & Layout Designer

Linux and Mac OS X[edit]

Cloud SaaS[edit]

  • Xara Cloud – a cloud-based service that enables the collaborative editing and sharing of documents designed with Xara's desktop titles or based on Xara Cloud templates, in a web browser using any platform.


  1. ^ Goodwins, Rupert (25 July 2006). "Rupert Goodwins' Diary; Tuesday 25/07/2006". ZDNet. Retrieved 15 December 2011. Congratulations to Xara on 25 years of business.
  2. ^ a b c d e Xara Group History
  3. ^ Clarke, Gavin (12 January 2012). "Acorn King Moir: BBC Micros, Ataris and 'BS' marketing". Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  4. ^ http://www.mw-software.com/
  5. ^ Bell, Graham (January 1993). "More than a shade better". Acorn User. pp. 61–63. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  6. ^ Colour Card (PDF). Computer Concepts Limited. July 1993. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  7. ^ Xara Xtreme for Linux

External links[edit]