free/open source software
April 12, 2006 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for free software (or even open source stuff) to tell my students about.

I teach high school digital art and web classes. My students often use the demo versions of the software that we use in class, those usually expire in 30 days and sometimes they cannot afford to buy the full versions even with an academic discount. I would like to tell them about the Free/Open Source options out there that match up to the software we use in class. We use the Adobe and Macromedia suites. I know about Open Office and Gimp. But what else is there that matches up with stuff like Flash, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Acid Music, Bryce, etc.?
posted by nimsey lou to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Blender is a 3D modelling program that they might like.
posted by cmonkey at 10:07 AM on April 12, 2006

Inkscape is an opensource vector drawing program.

is an opensource multi-track audio editor. isn't as powerful as the Gimp, but I find it easier to use.

Blender is open source 3d modeling, animation and rendering software.

I don't know how well any of them substitute for commercial products, but all are free and reasonably capable.
posted by Good Brain at 10:08 AM on April 12, 2006

there was a favourable mention on /. of the paint tool inside kdeoffice (koffice?). but i think it may not yet be available on windows.

inkscape is pretty sweet for vector-based work.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2006

Terragen may be a useful substitute for Bryce's landscape/scenery-generating capability. Note that although Terragen renders scenes, it does not (to my knowledge) actually generate 3D models of the scenery.
posted by steadystate at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2006

Previous related question.

Nvu as an alternative for Dreamweaver.

Processing for learning programming.

And you could also introduce them to web services like:
Writely for word processing.
Numsum for spreadsheets.
Eyespot or Jumpcut for online video editing. (I have not used these.)
posted by hooray at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2006

TheOpenCD includes several of the programs listed above in an easy-to-install format.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2006

Xara, a wonderful replacement for Illustrator is really cheap -- and has just gone Open Source. (Currently PC and Linux only -- but a Mac version should be coming soon.)
posted by grumblebee at 11:26 AM on April 12, 2006

There's also a (topically named) collection, Software for Starving Students, that contains lots of programs [list] for both Windows and Mac.
posted by reese at 11:34 AM on April 12, 2006

K3D is a 3d graphics app; I haven't used it myself but it was sitting in my bookmarks and I figured I'd share it.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 11:38 AM on April 12, 2006

Response by poster: These are really great. Thanks!
posted by nimsey lou at 11:39 AM on April 12, 2006

Response by poster: I think that from the list I have found a good substitute for just about everything except Flash. Anyone know of one?
posted by nimsey lou at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2006

i asked a couple of years ago about a flash replacement. since then i found laszlo, but haven't tried it.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2006

The problem with Flash replacements is Actionscript Programming. Most of the free/cheap alternatives don't allow you to do that -- or they only allow you to use a subset (or an old version) of Actionscript. However, if your students are not going to program, they're in luck. For animation, the cheap alternatives are -- in my opinion -- BETTER than Flash.

(If they DO want to meddle with Actionscript for free, they could go to free Flex 2.0 beta.)

Flash ANIMATION alternatives include swish, Koolmoves and Moho. You should also check out, which lists and reviews all swf (Flash) creation and manipulation programs.

If your students want to invest in one major piece of software, they might want to consider Adobe After Effects. It was made to output video files, but -- with a little jiggering -- it can also output PSDs, SWFs and GIFS.
posted by grumblebee at 2:26 PM on April 12, 2006

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