Free Software Alternatives to Substitute Adobe Products

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The price of Adobe software can really put the pressure on both experienced and beginner creatives, lets take a look at some of the best free alternatives to popular Adobe software.

At the time of writing, the newest version of the Adobe master suite is priced at a wallet-busting $2,499, a lot for an aspiring web or graphic designer. For newcomers to the sector especially, it’s easy to think that the Adobe products on offer are the only industry-standard pieces of software actually available when infact, there are many different free alternatives to some of the main elements of the creative suite.

Lets take a look at some of the best free alternatives to Adobe software…

dreamweaver

Dreamweaver

1. KompoZer

KompoZer is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing.

2. Aptana

Aptana Studio is a complete web development environment that combines powerful authoring tools for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, along with thousands of additional plugins created by the community.

3. Amaya

Amaya is intended to be a comprehensive client environment for testing and evaluating new proposals for Web standards and formats.

4. HTML-Kit

HTML Kit is a full-featured editor for HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and other text files.

Photoshop & Fireworks

photoshop

1. Gimp

GIMP is perhaps the most favourite free alternative to Photoshop.

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

2. Seashore (Mac only)

Seashore is an open source image editor for Mac OS X’s Cocoa framework. It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing. It is based around the GIMP’s technology and uses the same native file format.

3. ChocoFlop (Mac only)

ChocoFlop is an image manipulation program based entirely on Apple’s new CoreImage technology which takes advantages of the processing power in your GPU.

4. PhotoFiltre (Windows only)

PhotoFiltre is a complete image retouching program. It allows you to perform simple or advanced adjustments to an image and apply a vast range of filters on it. It is simple and intuitive to use, and has an easy learning curve. The toolbar, giving you access to the standard filters with just a few clicks, gives PhotoFiltre a robust look.

illustrator

Illustrator

1. Inkscape

Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.

2. OmniGraffle (Mac only)

Need a diagram, process chart, quick page-layout, website mock-up or graphic design? OmniGraffle 5 handles all of these in one award-winning application. We’re not just a pretty interface, however. There’s plenty of power under the hood to make all your diagramming and design fast and easy, with the ability to customize and tweak every aspect of your work.

flash

Flash

1. Ajax Animator

Ajax Animator is a project to create a fully standards-based, online, collaborative, web-based animation suite.  It’s a great Flash IDE alternative and a cross-platform/cross-format animation tool which can be used to create Animated GIFs, SWF (Flash), SVG Animations, and more.

2. FlashDevelop

FlashDevelop is a free and open source code editor for ActionScript 2, ActionScript 3 & MXML and HaXe.

3. Synfig

Synfig is a powerful, industrial-strength vector-based 2D animation software package, designed from the ground-up for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources.

indesign

InDesign

1. Scribus

Scribus is an Open Source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout.

after_effects

After Effects

1. Wax

Wax is a high performance and flexible video compositing and special effects software. The idea for Wax is to be very general purpose and flexible in video compositing and effects, so that you can compose your dream video sequence with ease every time.

2. Jahshaka

Jahshaka fixes many of the compatibility and file sharing problems that exist in large facilities today. The ability to run multiple seats of jahshaka off a single server, with full project and media sharing solve the problems of distributed vs shared storage.

Conclusion

As we’ve shown above, there are a surprising amount of free alternatives to popular Adobe products, especially web-related ones such as Photoshop, Fireworks and Dreamweaver.

Although we’ve shown some great alternatives, it’s important to remember that the Adobe products are so popular (and expensive) for a reason. The tools available in each piece of software is industry standard, giving the user a skill-set to create fantastic creative pieces of work.

Perhaps the most effective group of free software contained above is the free alternatives to Dreamweaver as all a developer needs to build a website is notepad, and the software above certainly builds on that kind of functionality.

Have we missed any great pieces of software that are worth mentioning? Let us know and comment below.

Written By Jordan

Jordan is an all-round Internet guy who has dabbled in design, SEO and article writing. He writes for his own web design blog over at awebdesignblog.com and has a passion for lots of white space.

27 Comments

  1. Amol NIrmala Waman

    November 2nd, 2009 at 08:34 am

    Hmm… this is really cool and great information about alternatives for Adobe softwares!
    Thanks a lot!

  2. anon

    November 2nd, 2009 at 10:51 am

    A lot of the links didn’t work and the few that did, were Windows only!

  3. Paul0v2

    November 2nd, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Hey Anon,

    The 2 links that didn’t work were fixed.

    Thanks,

  4. rayvolvez

    November 2nd, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Certainly an impressive round up abt alternatives.
    Sadly, there is only scribus for indesign. Scribus does not support chinese language input which pretty much hurts my work. Therefore, still indesign ftw.

  5. jutt

    November 3rd, 2009 at 03:50 am

    comments

  6. tahir hamid

    November 3rd, 2009 at 03:57 am

    this is testing

  7. mupet

    November 3rd, 2009 at 04:11 pm

    Great list, im using aptana for daily coding

  8. Jose Betancur

    November 4th, 2009 at 05:38 am

    Great List.

    But I would remove Omnigraffle.. isn’t free.

  9. Student Brands

    November 4th, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for the great info, we hope to use this info on our website : http://www.studentbrands.co.za

  10. Kim Burgess

    November 6th, 2009 at 03:20 am

    I’m always amazed when people have the mindset that to be able to produce work of a professional standard they must be using the Adobe Suite. Kudos to Adobes marketing team.

    For those willing to not follow everyone else like sheep there are some amazing free and open source apps around. A lot of them are listed here but there are also many others around, with the list growing every day.

    The 3Ders might be intersted in Blender3D, combine a scene in that with some post processing in The GIMP and you’ve got a very sexy workflow. Also, it’s understandable if you’ve invested a lot of time learning your way around the Adobe interfaces you may be reluctant to switch products. Fear not, as it is open source and freely modifiable, Scott Moschella was nice enough to make a few changes and create GIMPshop, which is The GIMP with the interface of photoshop.

    There is absolute masses of other packages out there for different creative disciplines and most of them have quite expansive, passionate and active communities that are more than willing to help out. There’s also complete packages that have been developed to give you an open source operating system built for creative work and bundled up with the tools you need – check out Ubuntu Studio as a good example.

    Viva la open source :)

    P.S. I’m not dissing the Adobe suite, it is an amazing product and is the ‘industry standard’ for good reason. That being said it is still just a tool that is used as a part of your creative process.

  11. Designium

    November 6th, 2009 at 01:52 pm

    @Kim Burgess amazing speech :D

    i´ll try use some of them in the near future! ty for this list Jordan

  12. Jordan

    November 7th, 2009 at 07:14 am

    Great comment Kim, I think you’ve made some great points there.

    I think these alternatives aren’t widely advertised apart from perhaps Gimp, so it’s always hard for people to come across them.

    Hopefully this post will help those people!

  13. Gilberto Ramos

    November 7th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    @Kim is “Viva EL open source” ;)

  14. Kim Burgess

    November 10th, 2009 at 03:15 pm

    @Gilberto Whoops my bad.

  15. Dave

    November 13th, 2009 at 02:40 pm

    I’ve always used Dreamweaver and Photoshop but I’ve just discovered Inkscape as a replacement for Illustrator. This is a good article but I’m also a big ADOBE fan! All my webd evelopment positions from past to current have always provided me with adobe. It’s at home I gotta spend.

  16. bikeman

    January 23rd, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Unfortunately many of these free alternatives are just not comparable to Abobe’s products and frankly a waste of time getting into – Kompozer for example messes around with html/css worse that MS Frontpage ever did!

    A more useful article would include lower cost alternatives which are stable and a useful alternative for designer/web designers of limited means. e.g. Photoshop Elements, MS Web Expression, MS Web Developer Express etc.

  17. daemonna

    March 7th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    @bikeman: wake up! you suggest MS products? you mean that company that makes that useless browser??

    - Only good dreamweaver alternative is AptanaStudio… is free, cross-platform with plugins like Ruby,Air,Python.. easy to use and very profesionall
    - for AE substitute i didnt find anything much usefull except Blender… but let’s wait for Blender 2.5, this will change game a lot :)

  18. Prism

    August 31st, 2010 at 06:55 am

    Thanks for sharing great information with us. Nicely explained free software alternative to adobe products. Our Company is also provides Software products and IT Services. To find out more information on software products please visit us once.

  19. david

    February 19th, 2011 at 11:08 am

    would surely to truely try your free alternative products to adobe before comment

  20. david

    February 19th, 2011 at 11:09 am

    would like to try your free alternative to adobe

  21. VladT

    April 20th, 2011 at 08:37 am

    I use Artweaver as free alternative for Adobe Photoshop

  22. jdbuerger

    August 1st, 2011 at 05:54 pm

    Some free alternatives are not so good. Others are excellent. GIMP is awesome as is Inkscape. Adobe continues to charge an arm and a leg for technology that is 10-years old. For most of us, the additions since Adobe bought out Macromedia are worthless. As long as people keep paying for it, they’ll keep producing it. Thanks for the free alternatives. Open Source and GNU needs your continued support.

  23. Nandagopal

    June 27th, 2012 at 01:37 am

    Hi,

    Thanks a lot for the lists and links…

    I ‘m using Gimp and Photo Filter in daily works…

    Once again thanks a lot for ur valuable infomration.

  24. Liz

    October 1st, 2012 at 05:20 pm

    My question is, are these programs seamless? Can I bring something from GIMP into Inkscape or Scribus (or vice versa)? The Adobe Suite is designed to flow from each program to the other without any issues. I can simply copy and paste and my fear is that these programs will not offer that.

  25. Maks

    November 23rd, 2012 at 03:37 pm

    Unfortunately we often search free alternatives to these very expensive Adobe products. But when I replaced Adobe Reader to PDF-XChange Viewer (then PRO) I had enjoy. Free alternative and the best pdf-reader.

  26. Dennis Suitters

    February 2nd, 2013 at 06:10 pm

    Since this articles was written, there’s been significant changes in most Open Source Tools.

    Myself, I use a completely 100% Open Source Workflow. Debian GNU/Linux as my O/S. GIMP for Graphic Manipulation. Luminance HDR for HDR Processing. RAWTherapee or DarkTable for RAW Photo Processing.

    I have no need to use any Commercial Software, which BTW, even though can cost anywhere from $10-$20,000 (Go look at the total cost of the Revit/AutoCAD Suite from AutoDESK (DraftSight now replaces AutoCAD which is Free to use, but OSS)). What a lot of people don’t realise is that even though purchasing Software with Commercial Licenses is that they don’t actually own them, they are paying for the priveledge to use them. FOSS on the other hand, regardless of cost, is their’s to keep, and to put on as many machines as they like without repercussions, or limits.

    As for Adobe being Industry Standard, this is all down to the mindset of what people have been led to believe.

    If you would like to learn more about FOSS for Photography, I am the owner of the Open Source Photography community in Google+, and Group in Facebook. We welcome anyone from beginners to professionals, and even those just interested in what FOSS is.

  27. Sandara Reynolds

    October 6th, 2013 at 02:10 pm

    I found your info very interesting and have bookmarked the page for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

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