Step away from the torrent. You do not need to pirate any software, ever.
I am writing this because I know (without naming names) many businesses that actually rely on pirated software. Not only is this practice highly illegal, it’s also completely unnecessary. I understand what it’s like to work in a small business. You have no budget, you have to multi-task, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty and there is no such thing as leaving your work at the front door. If you want a plain 9-5, don’t work for a small business. That’s no excuse.
Time and money are important to small businesses and we don’t get much of either, so costs need to be kept at a minimum. Cost is the number one concern for many small and medium sized businesses so it’s understandable that some turn to less legitimate methods. It’s the main reason things like design and IT fall by the wayside (which it absolutely should not).
To save you both, I have written a short summary on 4 alternative products, that you can get online, right now, for absolutely free.
Behind the odd name, you will find an excellent photo and image management tool. Whilst it will never be as fully developed as photoshop and despite the logic being a little different, it is a perfectly functional alternative (and did I mention that it is free?).
The tools are easy to get to grips with and understand and Gimp has many of the same functions as Photoshop. Gimp is ideal for small businesses and sole traders who need essential design work completed.
If you have the money to invest in Adobe, go with Adobe, but if you are a business on a budget, you will definitely benefit from using Gimp instead.
The logic of Inkscape is more natural than its proprietary counterpart Adobe Illustrator and it has many of the same functions (though some appear to have a different name). Again, it’s not as complete a product as Illustrator, but when you get a half-decent vector program for free, you can’t really complain that much. Saying that, the colour system needs work and I was unable to find Pantone colours on my initial exploration, so if anyone knows how to get those up please let me know in the comments. I found Inkscape to be just as easy to use as Illustrator.
Graphic Designers will probably enjoy using this more than they will Gimp, but I would also recommend this to start-ups or small businesses that wouldn’t need a high-end branding scheme.
Scribus is the Open Source alternative to InDesign, loved by amateurs and professionals alike. Scribus has a number of useful features including built in templates, document grids and PDF compatibility. It also features a number of templates, which makes it easier for first time users to start a project. The templates include leaflets and business cards, which makes it a practical production tool.
If you love InDesign, you may want to keep using it, but if you don’t have InDesign or cannot afford it, then Scribus will do the job.
You will need to spend more time learning how to use this program to see the full extent of its potential, but with plenty of online tutorials, this will do if you’re in a fix.
Note: I had trouble finding a way to change the font and make alterations to the type, but I suspect that’s due to lack of user experience on my part.
Bluefish is a free, comprehensive web design and editing tool. It is not as feature rich as Dreamweaver, the Adobe website building program, but it is free and it is easy to use. Old school writers will enjoy the notepad feel of Bluefish and I am personally impressed with the colour coding for actions and automation of command lines.
I’d happily use this instead of Dreamweaver, but your in-house designer may not enjoy it as much due to the lack of interactivity with other programs and features. For example, you can’t create a webpage in Gimp, slice it and send it to Bluefish like I can with Photoshop and Dreamweaver. However, there are a number of services that provide a drag-and-drop solution to web design that not only create sharp looking websites that will suit most SME’s, but will also fit Google’s search criteria, so if coding isn’t your thing, there are always other options.
Nowadays, most designers are familiar with HTML and CSS and Bluefish makes it a bit easier. When there’s a bazillion lines of code and you’ve missed out one thing, you will be thankful for the coloured commands.
These tools are not designed to be professional replacements to the Adobe suite, which is the industry standard, but they are a very handy free alternative for small businesses and start-ups. I would certainly recommend them to anyone who wants to try their hand at design, or are working on a tight budget. There really is no need to use stolen software, not when the legal, free alternatives are this effective.
– Blog post by Jess Brown.
I work for Invicta Linux, Business specialists in Data, Security & Communications. If you would like to know more about Open Source alternatives, give us a call on: 033020201389 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org