Monday, July 21, 2008

Alternatives to Adobe Products

Ten years back, when I was still working with the newspapers - Community Newspapers in their West Concord, MA location - I got familiar with Adobe Photoshop. Some of my coworkers were much better at graphics than me, but I learned some of the simpler ways to use it. It really is a fantastic program, but I usually opted for alternatives. An obvious reason for that is because Photoshop currently has a list price of $699, and I'll never operate on a level that justifies spending that kind of money on a program.

I've known there are alternatives out there, some of them very good, and some of them open source and free. Earlier this evening, I was using StumbleUpon and came across a site listing five free alternatives to Adobe products. The programs are The Gimp, an alternative to Photoshop, NVU (pronounced N-view) a Dreamweaver alternative, Avidemux, a Premiere alternative, Foxit PDF Reader, an alternative to Adobe Reader, and SMIL, a Flash alternative. I already have Foxit, and decided to pass, for now, on SMIL.

The important thing to note is they are alternatives, not equivalents. In many cases, they are simpler than their Adobe counterparts, but for many, if not most, people, they'll probably work just as well. Professionals may want to stick with the proprietary stuff from Adobe, but the vast majority of us are not professionals.

In reading the comments, it was suggested that another program, called Kompozer, might be better than NVU, so I downloaded that too. All the programs are relatively small downloads.

I decided to try out Avidemux first. On Saturday, I'd gone to the Portland Highland Games only a few miles down the road at Mt. Hood Community College, and I'd shot some video using the Canon camera, which does a decent job of capturing vids. Using another program I'd used once before, I tried editing the video of the massed pipes and drums from the end of the day. I couldn't figure out how to make cuts, even though I'd done it before, and since it was late yesterday when I attempted it, I put it aside. With Avidemux, I figured it out right away although I had to mess with the settings to get sound, which was needed to know where to cut. It was just as simple as I knew all along it should have been. I doubt I'm ever going to do very complex stuff with video - I'll just need something to make cuts, maybe put some stuff together, nothing very fancy, so Avidemux should work just fine for me.

I'll have to check out the Dreamweaver alternatives. Several years ago I'd bought it, but things have changed so much that I'm eager to try out Kompozer, which the comments section of the blog says is better than NVU.

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