Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

At our company we use open source software extensively on the development side including our IDEs (Eclipse), server OS (Linux), source control (SVN) and tech stacks (MySQL, Tomcat, Hibernate, Spring, Grails, GWT, RoR, etc.)

Our designers, on the other hand, don't use open source design tools such as GIMP and Inkscape. This is the case for every design shop I know - interactive agencies, professional print designers, etc. Part of the reason for this is that the Adobe tools are highly refined. Photoshop, for example, has been incrementally improved by user interface experts for over 20 years. The devil is in the details, and when I've tried GIMP (admittedly its been about a year), it still feels half baked by comparison. The tablet support was spotty, I couldn't find common functionality easily, control over brushes was limited, no grouping of layers, no non-destructive filter support - the list goes on. Note that this isn't a knock on the developers. GIMP is much younger than Photoshop, and seems to be improving at a steady clip. Its just a long uphill battle against a company (Adobe) that, unlike some of the OS vendors, is actually doing a very good job of serving their market - designers.

Even if GIMP + Inkscape had a feature match for Adobe CS5 (the suite that includes Photoshop and Illustrator) and comparable UX design, it would still be an uphill battle for two reasons - 1) Adobe's tools cover every aspect of design and are very well integrated and 2) Designers are all trained on them in school. Programmers, by comparison, all graduate with experience using open source software tools.

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Replies to This Discussion

Daniel, you're dead on. I'm an open-source fan, but also a pragmatist. If a proprietary title is better, I'll use it. Adobe's design products are better. If Adobe would release a CS5 version for Linux, I think you'd see designers jump platforms.

I already use proprietary software in Linux, I just wish other companies would support it. Currently, I have Skype, Dropbox, and Promethean software - all proprietary. When a FOSS alternative becomes better than these, they'll disappear from my computer.
Paul - well put. Its important to be pragmatic, and just use the best tool for the job. Religion in technology is usually a bad thing. Saving a couple hundred dollars by buying a tool that causes you to be 20% less productive than its commercial counterpart doesn't save you any money.
Open Source: LAMP, SVN, Eclipse, XDebug, Memcached, ejabberd

Proprietary: VMWare, Flash, Adobe Fireworks.

I always research open-source options first. It's usually pretty easy to tell if they're going to cost more in learning and configuration and potential lack of future support (read: community strength) than buying something.
I consider myself to be fairly pragmatic as well. I use and recommend open source server software generally because most of the best and most importantly flexible software is in that segment, so Linux,FreeBSD,OpenBSD,MySQL,Postresql,Exim,Postfix etc. To some extent I'm a proponent of the "More than one way to do it" ethos from perl, though increasingly I'm doubting that's such a good idea in programming languages.
Other pieces of open source software I use either because they're free or because there is no suitably priced proprietary alternative. E.g. GIMP over Photoshop. I find it hard to justify the $150+ for Photoshop. I used to love Paint Shop Pro, but after version 7 they steadily went downhill on power, opting to go for the "click a few buttons in a wizard" market, and burying most of the powerful stuff from 7. GIMP suffices and it generally does the job for the image manipulation I prefer.
I'm rather fond of VirtualBox over VMWare on a workstation for testing purposes, but in production environment would be more inclined towards VMWare, or Xenserver.



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