• filed in on 24. April 2005


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Free alternatives to Macromedia and Adobe

A lot has happened since I wrote this article, so PLEASE READ THE UPDATED VERSION HERE

We all know Adobe is going to acquire Macromedia, and you’ve probably also read blogs guessing as to why Adobe suddenly felt the need to pay 3.4 billion dollars to secure their monopoly. Comments are piling up, some positive and some negative.

If I were to comment on the deal, it would be on the negative side. I just don’t believe in monopolies… Therefore I have compiled a small list of free alternatives to some of the software packages the two companies maintain. Most of these run on multiple platforms, but some only run on linux.


For editing webpages, be it html, css or php Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobes GoLive could be replaced by Bluefish it’s out in version 1.0. and is a very promising editor.


Macromedia Flash is a bit tougher to find a replacement for, but there is a project call Flash 4 Linux but I would say that the software is FAR from being mature enough to actually be a replacement (ex. ActionScript support would help a lot!)

For creating fonts, Macromedias Fontographer is replaceable by this linux software: FontForge AND there is a nice tutorial to go with it ;)


The vector graphics market is more or less “owned” by Adobe Illustrator. Macromedias Freehand and Corels Draw are a long way behind. (Even though I’ve found Corel to invent all the new sleek features only to be ripped off by Adobe an Illustrator release later?). *BUT * you could consider switching to Inkscape for a rapidly evolving vector app with a W3C compliant SVG file format. Of course it’s not yet at the same level that Adobe Illustrator is, but it’s gaining ground.


The monster app Photoshop from Adobe is also a hard one to replace, and even though the good people over at The Gimp are trying really hard, they still have a long way to go. But I guess that if you’re not a graphic designer or photographer you could easily replace Photoshop with The Gimp.


Macromedia Fireworks is an odd product, it’s doesn’t really have any competition. No other software really combines vector and pixel graphics in the way Fireworks does, but I think you could come a long way using Inkscape and The Gimp.


I have used Adobe InDesign as my page layout software for a couple of years and newer really considered any alternatives (exept for Quark Xpress of course) but there is one, and it should work really well together with Inkscape and The Gimp. It’s called Scribus and has a lot of the features InDesign boasts. It should also be great for making PDF files (just like InDesign).


For video editing there are a couple of alternatives, some more mature and stable than others. Adobe Premiere has a lot of features, and these packages could be used in conjunction to make a replacement. The packages are: Kino (a basic video editing app), Cinelerra (is a BIG and capable editing suite, unfortunately not very pretty to look at…) and Kdenlive (not sure if this is still an active project).


Neither Adobe nor Macromedia has a real 3D app, but I thought I would present a free alternative if they had: Blender 3D it has the most efficient user interface I have ever tried. I looks as if it’s completely un-user-friendly, but once you get the hang of it, you wish more apps were designed that way. (uh – and it VERY competent).

For a really big “alternative” software list, Go Here.


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