ArtWorks founder to open source graphics appBy Chris Williams. Published: 13th Oct 2005, 11:46:53 | Permalink | Printable
Xara teases Linux and Mac communities with promises of codeThe creators of ArtWorks and Impression have announced plans to open source their graphic design software. Better known as Computer Concepts to RISC OS users before they left the Acorn platform, Xara went on to develop Xara X, and now Xara Xtreme. A Windows version is available, and the company wants to build Linux and Mac ports as well as placing the source code under the GPL licence.
Charles Moir, Xara CEO (pictured), said: "To stand any chance of establishing a following in the Linux world you have to make the product free and Open Source, so despite the risks involved, that's what we're doing."
Not forgetting his company's roots, he added: "We used to develop for alternative platforms, such as the Acorn RISC computer in the 1990s, and so fundamentally Xara Xtreme is based on a cross-platform core."
In the meantime, Xara seems keen to establish a community of developers and contributers to give them a hand with the source code: A set of mailing lists have been set up for those who wish to keep an eye on developments. The company hopes to begin releasing the code "within a few weeks".
A Xara spokesperson said, "The initial goal is to create a Open Source version of Xara Xtreme that is as good and slick as our Windows desktop version. The timescale depends upon the number of developers in the Open Source community who are willing to help us achieve that. It is a huge task and will take several months."
Vector art package ArtWorks was licensed to MW Software at the end of 2002 to continue development on the RISC OS platform. Programmer Martin Wuerthner has doubts, though, over the possibility of porting Xara Xtreme to RISC OS. He said: "Most importantly, it would be bound to run at a very sluggish pace. Even with FireFox, a lot of users complain about lack of responsiveness and a web browser has an extremely low degree of interactivity compared to a graphics program, where responsiveness is paramount."
Martin also believes it would be difficult to comfortably integrate Xara Xtreme into the RISC OS desktop and printing system, and that Xara's software relies on hand crafted Intel x86 assembler to achieve its rendering speed - which would need rewriting for ARM based systems.
Xara Xtreme website
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