Open Source/Freeware & Generally Helpful Links
One thing that I have learned to appreciate is a new toy to make my job
easier. A smattering of different programs below have a few things in common:
they are easy to use, easy to get, and fit a specific niche. There are also some
sites that make finding information (or inspiration) faster.
HTML & Web Development
- TopStyle –
TopStyle is a nifty little CSS editor. The Lite version has some basic
validation for different types of web browsers (very helpful) and a complete
list of available attributes.
Microsoft FrontPage –
It has kind of a bad rap, but FrontPage is still my favorite HTML editor. I
love the split-screen editing mode; and it has a lot of tools from spell
which is my primary criteria for software.
- Microsoft Visual Web Developer –
Really great tool (and free!) for creating and editing ASP.NET sites. This
is a little less user friendly than FrontPage, which is a (minor) drawback,
but it simplifies database integration and a few other operations, which
makes up for that.
(Help) – Content management systems are a big trend because of
how easy they are for end-users to use, but it can be a bear learning how to
create and manage templates. This made it a little easier for me.
- Mambo Love – This is a
collection of designs for Mambo, but it's just a great resource for some
funky, innovative web designs.
- iStock Photo – Very
inexpensive stock photography, clip art, and videos with an impressively
precise search feature.
- CSS Zen Garden –
Another great design site, specifically for graphic designers and
focusing on exclusively CSS layout. There are some visually intoxicating
designs on that site.
- (Sun) OpenOffice – It's a good
alternative to Adobe FrameMaker, which is still the gold standard for manual
layouts. OpenOffice handles large documents very well, and I like the master
doc concept, a carryover from Frame. Sometimes table and figure numbering is
buggy, and it crashes more than I like, but it is free and, overall, its
virtues outweigh its problems.
- Corel WordPerfect
– I still like WordPerfect for most of my regular work. One thing it handles
better than Word or OO (in my opinion) is booklet layout, which is really
nice for small manuals and users guides. Another new tool, Corel WordPerfect
Lightning, has a lightweight document and PDF viewer which collects
documents together, combined with a note-taking feature.
- Dictionary.com – Single
source for dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia which makes finding the
right word much faster and simpler.
– This is the single easiest to use program I have ever tried out of the
box. I love it; it is incredibly simple, has great help and documentation,
and is very polished.
- Gimp – PhotoShop "lite," which fits my
needs closely and has the benefit of being free. I am a "production
designer" (re: not a graphic designer or artist), so Gimp is perfect
for me – as much functionality as I can use, simple interface (big
plus), dependable program.
- Inkscape – Inkscape makes very
graceful scalable vector graphics and has a lot of functionality while being
very stable and easy to use (and free). It's not a layout program like
CorelDRAW and was a little slower for me to learn, but it's great for basic
- Dia – A free, open
source version of Visio. DIA is pretty simple to use and exports to number
of different formats and is great for more structured charts or graphics.
Uncategorized Helpful Programs
– This is a brainstorming program, for idea associations and project
- Wink – Wink is a
screen-capture tool which makes it incredibly easy to make tutorials with
notes, audio, and video.
- Fedora Directory Server
– Related to one of my previous projects, Fedora DS is an LDAP directory
- Gaim – This keeps
all of your instant messaging accounts in one place; I use it for Yahoo,
Windows Messenger, AOL, IRC, and Jabber.
- CutePDF Writer – A free PDF
printer so that you can print any file to PDF.
- ZipGenius – Creates
and opens compressed archives in a number of different formats.
- WinMerge – Diffs files in a very
simple interface. I've used it on very large files (over 20,000 lines), and
it handled it great.
- ToDoList – XML-based marker
board that sets up to-do lists with associated categories, deadlines,
time estimates, priorities, and notes.