5 Great Open Source Graphic and Web Design Alternatives | Heart Internet Blog – Focusing on all aspects of the web

open-source-logoWeb design is big business. With computers and the internet becoming more accessible than ever before, there are a lot of individuals and businesses trying their hand at web design. It is no surprise that there are a lot of powerful, full featured and expensive design applications out there in the market available to amateur and professional designers and programmers.

So if you are either just starting out as a money-conscious designer, or you’re a veteran coder, you probably already have a good idea about the commercial software available to you. In this post I would like to draw your attention to the Open Source alternatives in the design industry. Open Source software has larges communities of developers and testers, and Open Source software is some of the best written software in the world.

So, without further ado, we bring you a top 5 list of Open Source alternatives to commonly used commercial applications.

Aptana Studio instead of Dreamweaver


Aptana Studio is a HTML and CSS design suite. It is also used by programmers who write in PHP, Ruby and others. It works very similarly to Dreamweaver in that it has both a design and code view, has syntax highlighting, comes with code snippets, and will also FTP files to your website for you. If you have used Dreamweaver in the past then Aptana would feel very familiar to you, with a few nice surprises (especially for those AJAX lovers out there).

GIMP instead of Photoshop


GIMP is almost a ‘clone’ of Photoshop. It works in very similar way with its layers, selections, filters and painting tools. It can even read and write in Photoshop format, making it ultra compatible with your Photoshop using colleagues or clients. The software doesn’t feel quite as polished as Photoshop does, and its text manipulation is a little behind Photoshop’s. But, if you’re like the majority of people who use Photoshop to resize their images, reduce the colours, and maybe add the odd special effect to add a little extra to your websites, then the GIMP is definitely something you should try!

Inkscape instead of Illustrator


Inkscape is a vector drawing programs with features similar to that of Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. It has a very large feature set, including n-sided object creation, text effects, raster images, gradients, layers, opacity and paths. It can read and write in many formats, including XML, SVG and complies with W3C standards. It can also read AI and SVG files exported from Illustrator. A fine and free alternative.

OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office


Open Office.org (or OOo for short) is a direct replacement for Microsoft’s Office suite (excluding Outlook). It is a very mature project and they have very recently released version 3.1.0. You can use replacements for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. OOo can also read and write in any of the native file formats, as well as a few others (like PDF) which older versions of Office can’t. Being a Linux man myself in a predominantly Windows environment, I find OOo a life saver. This one comes highly recommended.

Firefox with the Web Developer Extension


I don’t want to say too much about this one as Rik mentioned this in his article about top Firefox extensions. This one needs mentioning here because it’s a great way to tweak your final design and seeing the changes magically appear in front of your very eyes. Not sure whether you want a 2 or 3 pixel border? Just change the CSS in Web Developer Extension and see your changes as they happen. This one is definitely recommended for those fine-tuners.

What is your favourite Open Source software? Let us know, we are always on the look out!



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  • 22/06/2009

    I always use VLC (https://www.videolan.org) for playing videos on my computer. It’s considerably better than Windows Media Player.

    Before I used webmail I always used Mozilla Thunderbird (https://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/) instead of Outlook for a mail client.

    Then of course there’s Linux instead of Windows. 😉

  • Matthew


    I’m a big fan of NotePad++ for HTML & CSS editing (https://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm) although it does state it runs “…in the MS Windows environment” so I may get stoned for suggesting it

  • Rik


    Notepad++ is great as an editor in Windows, one of the first things I install when I reinstall my Windows box (I don’t use Windows at home; what are you talking about? 😉 ).Syntax highlighting, tabs, powerful search tool – all life savers.

    In Linux though, Kate (a KDE app but it’ll run in Linux) is as and more capable as Notepad++ though.So there’s 2 open source alternatives to each other 😉

  • 27/06/2009

    You may try SSuite Office for a free office suite. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download that will meet all your demands. Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, so it makes the software very small and efficient. 🙂

    You can try these links:




  • 07/07/2009

    About 3 weeks ago I said bye to Windows all together and have been using Ubuntu.

    I can’t say I am missing Windows!!!

  • Liam


    I always use the Javascript library JQuery! Its fantastic for site development, lots of plugins that use it. Its gives more life to the web!

  • 08/07/2009

    I couldn’t live without Firefox with Web Developer and Firebug extensions.

    I use Thunderbird instead of outlook, which works well – especially since it synchs with Google Calendar too.

    I use Audacity regularly for editing seminar recordings.

    However, can’t quiet bring myself to ditch Windows for good because I’m a Dreamweaver user and haven’t yet got my head around Aptana.

  • 18/02/2010

    Its such a great resources…:)


  • Best Web Design


    Hi Ricky.. tHAnks for sharing such a very nice article about 5 Great Open Source Graphic and Web Design Alternatives.. Keeo it up!!!

  • 06/07/2009

    Notepad2 is a great tool

    Paint.NET https://www.getpaint.net is a great alternative to big ‘photoshop-style’ art programs.

    Those two are my weapons of choice.


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