GIMP may be acceptable for casual doodler or cropping photos, but …

No doubt that I would agree with the parent 100%. GIMP may be acceptable for casual doodler or cropping photos, but it ultimately a complete waste of time for any professional accustomed to a plethora of serious tools and a myriad of features used daily to make a living. We don’t even have to discuss its’ intolerable user interface because GIMP’s graphic capabilities are not even in the same ballpark as Photoshop.

However, one may be able replace some of the other software depending on how you used it. The original poster framed the scenario as tools for the marketing department to use, which clearly lowers the bar in terms of expectations as to what level of competency will be applied. Marketers are not designers, so it would appear as though if Software X does a reasonable job approximating most tasks of Adobe Y, then one can adopt it.

Photoshop – You’re unlikely to replace that one. Although, someone else mentioned Pixel [kanzelsberger.com] which could possibly cut the mustard depending on your needs. Otherwise, there really is nothing to compare to Photoshop.

Illustrator – Definitely have a strong look at Inkscape [inkscape.org]. I’ve toyed with it for 2 or 3 years to keep tabs on its’ development, after being fairly impressed during my first run through. These days it has continued to advance and I’d suggest it’s ready for the professional world. You can create substantially complex pieces with Inkscape which will probably far out-pace the ability of your Marketing department to bother learning in the first place. While it might be missing a pet feature or two, the bottomline is that Inkscape is ready to be taken seriously as a replacement for Illustrator (and, previously, FreeHand).

InDesign – Professionals already use Scribus [scribus.net] to handle multipage full color layouts sent directly to commercial print houses, so it’s gotta be worth your time to look at. CMYK separation, PDF generation,and much of the toolsets you’d expect to see in Quark or InDesign; certainly more than enough power for your Marketing department.

Acrobat Pro – If you’re heavily using features like annotation, collaboration, form creation, et cetera, then you probably won’t be replacing Acrobat Professional. Nothing can touch it. However, if all you need is to be able to allow your Marketing droids to generate PDFs from documents they create in other software, then you can slap PDFCreator [pdfforge.org] on their little Windows boxen. Remember that OpenOffice already has the ability to turn any of their normal documents and spreadsheets into a PDF at a click of a button. Surely, you’ve dumped MS Office by now.

Dreamweaver – This is a tough one because you should probably rethink your environment to realize you most likely don’t really want Dreamweaver to be used. Unless you’re just using Slashdot to conveniently survey the geek mindshare, the odds are that WYSIWYG is an old paradigm no longer needed by most scenarios. What you probably want is some kind of content management engine which your key tech person(s) can administer such that your Marketing department can monkey with the website(s). One engine could be adapted to various websites, if you proposed such a need. If I were to suppose someone was trolling Slashdot, then I would mention Quanta Plus [kdewebdev.org] before realizing Marketing droids would be helplessly confined to Windows and thus I’d point to Nvu [nvu.com] as your capable hero.

But, really, if an evaluation of your technical needs leads you back to WYSIWYG, then you’ve made a logical error somewhere. The days for that hobbled solution are definitely over.

There you have it! Free and open source software is up to the challenge is most regards. Where there are shortcomings, there are adept proprietary solutions for far, far less than the onerous cost of Adobe

Photoshop -> Gimp [gimp.org]
Illustrator -> Inkscape [inkscape.org]
InDesign -> Scribus [scribus.net]
Web Design -> Kompozer [kompozer.net], which is a bugfix release of Nvu [nvu.com] (there’s actually a lot of these, I’ve also heard Microsoft Visual Web Dev Express [microsoft.com], which has a lot of praise from various people)
At least for mac users, there are quite a few very well designed and maintained products that are shareware and rival Adobe’s offerings in both features and pizazz.

RapidWeaver [realmacsoftware.com] is an industrial-strength alternative to Dreamweaver which includes an SDK, full drag-n-drop designing interface, coding panel, Flash integration, and site maintenance. Currently it’s $49.

Coda [panic.com] is the newcomer on the block, built by one of the best Mac shareware coding companies. As with the others, it allows for drag-n-drop designing and fully supports XHTML. Panic Software’s tagline “shockingly good Mac software” is evident here cause they integrate the features of Transmit (their excellent FTP utility) including site/filepath synchronization, drag-n-drop uploading from the Dock… Coda also includes a console that’s integrated into the app window that allows for split terminal shells for SSH and other functions. Coda includes a GUI CSS editor and comprehensive HTML programmer’s guide in the application itself. $79.

TextMate [macromates.com] is the Mac’s premiere enterprise-level, yet shareware price text editor that does… pretty much anything. It can handle just about as many language bundles as jEdit but is purely Mac. It integrates well with Transmit, the shell, Subversion, and has a fully customizable code snippet library for full programmer control. I can’t even begin to summarize all the features that sets this editor apart from the others, but it easily shames Dreamweaver’s code window. Just watch the screencasts on the website. It costs 39.

CSSEdit [macrabbit.com] by MacRabbit is a GUI-powered CSS editor which has a snooping mode called X-Ray that can analyze a website’s design similar to Firefox’s 3rd party Web Developer addon, except with style, polish, and features that you’ve come to expect from Mac applications. It includes a CSS “builder” workflow that allows you to use some natural language and object-oriented programming (in the most basic sense) to build CSS effects. $29.95

There are many others including Apple’s own iWeb [apple.com] (which is included with every new Macintosh, is VERY easy to use, and puts out bloated-yet XHTML compliant code) and BBEdit [barebones.com] by Bare Bones Software which is very comparable to TextMate in many ways.

http://www.pixelmator.com/

Leave a Reply