More Free Lunches

In the realm of layout and design, Adobe products tend to loom very large. Most designers submit to their gravitational pull and use at least one and usually all of the big three: Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. However, there are plenty of people whose design needs are not extensive enough to justify the purchase of these quite expensive products. They recognise the diabolical shortcomings of Microsoft's drawing and layout programs, and hence strike out for an alternative. Scribus and Inkscape may appeal to those with a DIY frame of mind. Both are free, and both were developed by a fairly egalitarian community of developers.

Scribus is a page layout program. Its capabilities largely mirror those of InDesign and QuarkXpress, but it cannot open files created with those programs (for practical and legal reasons). Those familiar with commercial layout packages will find the Scribus interface very familiar. Additional and improved features are added on a rolling basis, and new builds can be downloaded from their website.

Inkscape is an Illustrator/CorelDRAW analogue. The drawing tools are adequate for all but the most demanding users, and files can be output into industry standard formats such as EPS and PDF. As per Scribus, the developer community surrounding the program is open and cooperative, and the program continues to evolve.