Given how hard it is for students (and their programs) to afford the expensive tools in our profession, I thought it might help to pass along these alternatives to commercial products. I think anyone breaking into the field (or a new type of tool) would do very well to train up on these open source tools and create portfolio pieces with them.
When I'm hiring, I take tool equivalents very seriously: if you can make a page layout program sing and dance, I'm confident you can transfer that to whatever tool I happen to have in my shop. Self-instruction is also, itself, a great selling point in candidates. :-)
- Scribus [Alternative to Adobe InDesign]
“Scribus is an open-source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.”
- Gimp [Alternative to Adobe Photoshop]
“GIMP, sometimes referred to as "The Gimp," is a freely available open source application for creating and manipulating graphic images that runs on Linux, other Unix-based operating systems, and also on Windows and Mac OS X. GIMP is distributed under licensing terms defined by the GNU project. GIMP offers photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring and is favorably compared by users to Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator applications.”
- Inkscape [Alternative to Adobe Illustrator]
"An open source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development"
- KompoZer [Alternative to Adobe Dreamweaver]
“KompoZer is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. KompoZer is designed to be extremely easy to use, making it ideal for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without needing to know HTML or web coding.”
- Wink [Alternative to Camtasia/Captivate]
“Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles, etc., and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.”
- Zscreen [Alternative to SnagIT]
"ZScreen is an open-source screen capture program that allows for region/window/full-screen screenshots. It can FTP screenshots and put the URL in your clipboard in a single keystroke. It supports automatic custom naming conventions with variables. It can also interface with image editing software."
- OpenOffice [Alternative to Microsoft Office]
“OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.”
Thanks to Melissa Burpo for the Adobe alternatives!