Freeware Files: Five Alternatives for Adobe CS5's Best Apps!


Alright, Adobe Creative Suite 5, here's the deal: I really, really want to put my hands on all the neat features and general awesomeness you offer. That's not an admission of a fanboy, it's a gentle acknowledgment that this is the industry-leading suite of software for those that dabble with multimedia across a variety of formats.

That said, not all of us have a stock portfolio to dump off in an effort to raise the funds to purchase said Creative Suite.  And this is the weekly Freeware Files column after all. Which leads us to a grand proposition: Can one recreate the best of Adobe's CS5 with freeware and open-source applications?

Spoiler: No. You can certainly find a number of apps that deliver you the basic functionality that CS5 applications provide. However, you'll never find a full-fledged replacement that comes with all the features of one of Adobe's applications for no cost whatsoever.

Cheer up. All hope isn't lost. For many of you, the freeware and open-source apps I'm going to highlight in this column are advanced enough to allow you to create (or finish) the digital projects that have been lingering in the back of your mind. You don't need to take out a mortgage to design a page or edit a video. You just need the tools-the freeware tools. And you'll find five of these replacements for expensive Adobe CS5 applications after the jump!

Photoshop Replacement:

If you've been following the freeware beat, you've surely heard of perhaps Gimp-as they're two of the more popular free Photoshop alternatives around today. I'm partial to, as it's a little bit less sluggish and crash-prone than Gimp. The interface is slicker and uses transparent effects to maximize your screen's real estate without giving up easy access to the features you need. While Gimp does have a few more effects and tools built in over, I've think that it's a lot easier to jump over to if you're just looking to perform a number of common editing functions. It just feels... right.

For what it's worth, if you're sick of hearing about, you should also check out Stylepix -it's a super-lightweight image editor that's a perfect on-the-go kind of app!

Download it here !

Premiere Replacement: Blender

Blender?  What?  I know, I know. This is a 3D application. Its primary use is to help you model, design, texture, and render models in a virtual environment. Blender is a complicated tool for beginners-I couldn't even make a box look pretty-and it's not the kind of thing that you can just expect to install and plow through in a lazy afternoon.

But... videos?  Yes, Blender does videos. The program comes with a built-in video sequence editor that isn't quite as feature-packed as Adobe Premiere, but it nevertheless works in a way that's analogous to the costly app. You can slap your clips onto one of many timeline and perform a decent amount of basic edits, including shortening and lengthening clips as well as slapping transitions in between your shots.

Download it here !

Indesign Replacement: Scribus or Pageplus SE

You get a choice on this one. I'm torn between Scribus and Pageplus SE as my desktop replacement of-choice for Adobe's Indesign. The Scribus interface isn't very appealing, but the program itself can perform a number of functions above-and-beyond what you'd find in Pageplus SE, including fancy color management, PDF creation, and text imports from programs like Word. Pageplus SE feels more template-heavy and lacks important elements like PDF exporting, but it nevertheless feels a bit easier to use given that it's just one version behind the commercial program Pageplus 9.

Super-power user?  Go Scribus. Dabbling in desktop publishing?  Pageplus Se. There. I said it.

Download Scribus here and Pageplus SE here!

Flash Replacement: Synfig

This one is a pain. There really isn't a picture-perfect replacement application for Adobe's Flash. Synfig comes close in its overall functions, but it's not as if you'll be using this application to dump .SWF files of your pretty animations. While the look and feel of Synfig might remind you of the Flash interface, in that you'll be using keyframes to dictate important points along the path of your overall animation, your final files will have to be exported as some kind of movie in order for you to actually view your creation. Beyond that, however, you can get pretty crazy with the parameters of a given object to simulate Flash's Actionscript-based movement techniques.

Download it here !

Dreamweaver Replacement: Kompozer

Adobe's Dreamweaver can really be thought of as two separate products: a project management tool and a WYSIWYG editor that takes its fair share of criticism from those that prefer to do all their coding via Notepad++ (also an option!)  Anyway, Kompozer eschews the ability to track the relationships of your pages in one standard interface. It's really more the latter in this case-a functional HTML editor that comes with a built-in Site Manager tool (more a listing of files within a given folder) and the ability to switch between the code and rendered view of a page at a whim. Since Kompozer renders in Gecko, you'll at least have a quick idea of what your site will look like in Firefox?

Download it here !

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