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For other uses, see Xara (disambiguation).
The Xara Group, Ltd.
Founded 25 July 1981 (1981-07-25)[1]
Headquarters London, United Kingdom

Xara is a UK-based software company founded in 1981. 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 and Linux. It was originally called Computer Concepts, Ltd.; the company name was changed in 1995 to Xara, Ltd. and later to The Xara Group, Ltd. On 30 January 2007, Xara was acquired by German company MAGIX AG, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary.[2]


BBC Micro[edit]

AC Mizal Ultraman

  • 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 BASIC - a ROM-based, BBC Basic-like semi-compiled Basic language
  • Fast ASM - 68000 assembler


  • ArtWorks - vector graphics drawing software. The predecessor to Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. Launched in 1991 it was the world's first drawing program to offer real-time vector anti-aliasing along with many other innovations.
  • Impression - award winning DTP 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 zip-like compression utility

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

  • ColourCard - graphics card - the first to produce 24bpp video for the Acorn
  • 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 600dpi.


With the advent of a 32-bit MIcrosoft OS (Windows 95 and Windows NT), development switched from the Acorn to Windows platform. The first product was a re-write of the ArtWorks product. 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. The result was Xara Studio, which was initially licensed to Corel who released it as CorelXARA in 1995. Corel marketed it as a web-oriented companion to CorelDRAW, but it was clearly designed as a stand-alone alternative to the older software. In 2000, Xara released the software themselves as Xara X, which was superseded by Xara X¹ in 2004, and then Xara Xtreme in 2005. In 2006 a Pro version was released, named Xara Xtreme Pro. Xtreme was later renamed Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and Xtreme Pro was renamed Xara Designer Pro.

Xara subsequently released other design and page layout titles for Windows:

  • Xara Web Designer. A WYSIWYG web design program that requires no knowledge of HTML or JavaScript. Users can either create their own designs from scratch or choose one of the page or site templates, customize it as required with drag and drop editing. Notable features include one-click change of the design theme color, automatic text flow around objects, automatic page resizing and object positioning as text is added or deleted, buttons and text panels that stretch and shrink as the text is changed, easy creation of mouse-overs, thumbnails and photo pop-ups, and automatic color matching of imported graphics. There are integrated drawing and photo editing tools, and third party widgets are fully supported. There are two versions, Web Designer and Web Designer Premium.
  • Xara Page & Layout Designer combines all the text and page layout features of typical word processor and DTP software with the image editing capabilities of Xara's illustration and photo editing tools. The result is an integrated and flexible 'Document Processor' that can be used to create everything from business cards to multi-page brochures.
  • Xara 3D Maker is designed to create high quality 3D text and graphics, such as headings, logos, titles and buttons, which can be used on web pages, mailshots, movies and presentations (all images are fully anti-aliased to give a smooth, professional quality). Xara 3D Maker can also create 3D animations - GIFs, AVIs and simple Flash movie sequences - and 3D screensavers.

Free software[edit]

In 2005 Xara announced it would release an Open Source/Free Software port of the Xara Xtreme software for Linux and Mac OS X under the GNU General Public License. Since 2008 there has been no more development of Xara Xtreme for Linux.[3]

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.[4]


Since 1984, the company has been headquartered 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.


  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. ^ "German group buys Xara". 
  3. ^ Xara Xtreme for Linux
  4. ^ About Xara Group

External links[edit]