Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Not to Drop $1000+ on Adobe CS3: Freeware Alternatives

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
by ethanbaker

I very well know that Adobe CS3 offers some compelling programs. However, I have a solution to the major problem with the software: the price. The following are free alternatives to CS3 programs that will save you some major dough. Photoshop is Adobe’s stab at a photo editing program. For this common task, I have two programs to offer. The first program is The Gimp. The Gimp is slightly complex, but offers all the features that Photoshop does. A recompilation of The Gimp, called Gimpshop, is designed to be like Photoshop. Secondly, the infamous program Paint.NET. Paint.NET is a more basic image editor, but is still much more advanced than Windows Paint. Paint.NET is only available for Windows, while The Gimp is open source and therefore is available to most platforms.

Flash is a web 2.0 standard, however Adobe’s Flash program is expensive and complicated. I have found two alternatives to use instead of Flash. I have not extensively tested Synfig so I cannot comment on the UI or performance. The other option is called Powerbullet Presenter. Powerbullet is a well built program that makes Flash presentations. The UI is a little bit cluttered, but its performance really packs a punch. Synfig is available for Windows and OS X and Powerbullet is a Windows-only app.

Ah, Dreamweaver, the benchmark of all WYSIWYG editors. My suggested alternative is called Komposer. Komposer is the successor to NVU and is very similar. Komposer has a visual design and a code view, very similar to Dreamweaver. The only true difference between the two is that integrating Flash in Komposer can be a little bit tricky. Komposer is available for all major platforms.

Next up is Adobe Acrobat. I have a very simple solution to create PDFs rather then spending your hard earned cash. I suggest downloading PrimoPDF which is a printer driver that creates PDFs from any application that supports printing. All you need to do is select PrimoPDF in the Print dialogue box. PrimoPDf is available only for Windows.

Adobe Illustrator is great for creating works of art. Inkscape can be easily substituted for Illustrator saving you money. Inkscape is available for all major platforms.

Every now and again, everybody needs to build a publication. Of course you could use MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign, but why would you use those when you could use Scribus for free? Scribus has a simple, but powerful UI that reminds me of Komposer and the Open Office suite. Scribus is available for all major platforms.

Video editing is something that nowadays lots of people do. Windows Movie Maker is not great, iMovie is OK, but Adobe Premiere is professional quality. Jahshaka is a great alternative to Premiere and offers many of the same features. Jahshaka is available on all major platforms.

Audio editing is something required for podcasting and music recordings. Adobe Soundbooth allows this to be done professionally, but the open source program Audacity can do the same thing for a lot less. Audacity is available to all major platforms.

Finally, we have an Adobe product that is not part of CS3, but still has a free alternative. That product is Adobe Captivate. Adobe Captivate allows you to create screencasts to share with the web, colleagues, or friends. A free program that allows this to be done is CamStudio.

I hope that this list of freeware alternatives to expensive software helps everybody find an easy, cheap way to do what they need.

Note: These programs were found by use of Google,, and CNet.

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