Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alternatives to Adobe Suite CS5

Adobe has announced a new CS5 version of their Creative Suite. Even though educators can get a hefty discount for these applications, there is still a cost. Not only is there a cost, but like so many software programs, the Adobe suite products have become more sophisticated, which is good for professionals, but not helpful for individuals just wanting to complete a simple task. Some of the alternatives suggested below may be more complex (GIMP and Synfig as examples), but the rest offer a much easier path to accomplishing your goals in developing a website or publishing a newsletter than the Adobe CS5 programs. And, more importantly, they are FREE!

The idea behind Photoshop is to manipulate images and improvephotographs, a free alternative is GIMP. This application is about as difficult to master as Photoshop, but it has many of the Photoshop features. If you are simply looking to make some small improvements to a photo, youmay want to consider picnik or splashup(bothfree), but if you want some of the power found in Photoshop, you should look at GIMP.

A graphics editor that’s free and similar to Illustrator andCorelDraw is Inkscape. This application comes with several tutorials to help you learn how to use it, and a wiki where you can share ideas and learn from others. This program is Open Source and provides a well defined menu where you can easily find information about using Inkscape and locate free clip art.

Synfig is,” in their words, “a powerful, industrial-strength vector-based open-source 2D animation software package, designed fromthe ground-up for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources. While there are many other programs currently on the market to aid with the efficient production of 2D animation, we are currently unaware of any other software that can do what our software can.” It offers a free alternative to Adobe Flash but does not have all the features of Flash, especially the ability to move objects from Illustrator or Photoshop into Flash. It does do a very nice job with animation, and of course, the price is right—it’s free.

>A free, Open Source alternative to Dreamweaver is Nvu webauthoring software. They also offer hosting for a reasonable amount ($4.99/month). This program is a WYSIWYG that complies with W3C’s web standards so you know that your site will comply with their guidelines. This program is easy to use and will help you quickly develop a webpage.

For users of InDesign, or QuarkXpress, there is Scribus. This is a free, Open Source application available for both Mac and PCplatforms. Even though there appears to be no toolbars or palettes they are switched on from the Windows menu. TrustedReviews gives this application high marks (http://bit.ly/9Dnv4r).

Even though I prefer using the Adobe Suite, and now face learning the new elements in CS5, I share these applications that are free and somewhat easier to learn and use. I’m sure that there may be other equally useful programs in the Web 2.0 cloud. Please share them if you like.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You can now make your photos talk. That's right, using an application called fotobabble you can add sound to your images. Go to fotobabble, sign up (remember our favorite word? FREE!), upload your image, record your message, then link it to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or link it in an email or embed it in your webpage.

Here is a sample I did to see how easy it is. Click on the image above to see this sample. One other important feature--no download to your computer is required so it works with both Mac and PC.
This is something you could use in an online or web-supported class to show the class a photo of some relevant object or site that you narrate. And you can use it to send a virtual Mother's Day gift from your children to their grandmother. You can make a talking postcard. There are a lot of uses that you can find for this application.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do you know that you can edit photos without learning Photoshop? That's right--there is a new Web 2.0 application that will allow you to take a photograph and easily remove wrinkles, blemishes, red-eye and glare with the click of your mouse. You can also add effects and make color adjustments. All this costs, well, you know our favorite word--FREE! You can do all this without downloading the application to your computer.
What is this application you ask, it's CITRIFY (click on the link or go to http://www.citrify.com/). It does come in a Premium version that will cost you $39.99, but the free version does everything you will probably need. Premium CITRIFY will allow work with larger images, is downloadable and provides technical support.