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Utilizing Open Source Programs for Non-Profit Organizations

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  • Utilizing Open Source Programs for Non-Profit Organizations

    Hello everyone,

    I thought I would get people's opinions on an idea I'm working on.

    I do pro-bono work for several non-profit organizations in my area, and I'm able to utilize my work computer for these jobs. However, my time in one or two of these organizations is term limited, and I will have to pass the responsibilities on to another person who may or may not have the same level of access to resources as I do here.

    With that in mind, I was trying to develop a list of software that is cross-platform and open source, so we're not dealing with expired licenses and the fact that each person who comes into this position may have entirely different hardware than I do.

    This is what I'm considering:
    Scribus for page layout
    GIMP for photo editing
    Inkscape for vector editing

    All of these are free or open source software and are all cross platform.

    While I have yet to try these softwares, they would seem to satisfy my (empirical) needs. I know that commercial software was developed to satisfy commercial needs, but in the past I have downloaded free- or share- wares and gotten very good service from them. Although they were usually along the lines of DA's and single purpose software, like a photoshop filter, they got the job done and didn't nick my bottom line.

    What do you think?

    Does anyone have any better ideas?

    Besides, this beats the same old Quark vs. InDesign posts I see everywhere else...

  • #2
    Re: Utilizing Open Source Programs for Non-Profit Organizations

    I also work for a few Non- profits and had the same dilemma. I opted for Scribus. It's not the easiest program to work in, but it does produce great PDF's. I never bothered with image editing programs because editing images is way beyond these peoples skill sets.


    • #3
      Re: Utilizing Open Source Programs for Non-Profit Organizations

      If you're going to go down this road, which I think is great!, then you need to make sure that when you give the printer "final art" that you actually understand that "final" means "final". Making an edit to a PDF is not a trivial task. It can be done but depending how much change needs to be done it can be a significant problem. Printers generally won't want to install Scribus to generate a new PDF or make changes to your layout. So you'll have to take care of all of those things. Scribus supports PDF and PDF/X-3. It does not support PDF/X-4 (transparency). So you will also have to deal with those issues.

      I think it's great that you too will be supporting the open source community by using such programs. I think Scribus is a great layout program to use. A bit clunky compared to InDesign but much better than Quark (for me at least). Inkscape is every bit as good as Illustrator for many common tasks. GIMP is such an extensible program, it can do sooo much. I have an openBSD box running Gnome 2 and Fedora Core 9 box running Gnome 2 and I can do as much there as I can with my Mac (10.4) and Windows (XP & Vista) laptops for most design requirements. They have their limitations but if you know what they are you can generally work around them successfully.

      Whoops! I just realized you are a printer so you know most of what I'm talking about already. At any rate George, I'll be out in Grand Rapids (Rockford really) on June 26, 27, and 28th with a customer. Maybe we can connect.

      Edited by: Matt Beals on May 23, 2008 4:30 PM
      Matt Beals
      The views expressed here are my own personal views and are not those of my employer.


      • #4
        Re: Utilizing Open Source Programs for Non-Profit Organizations

        Hi Matt,

        As luck would have it, I'm out of town the last week of June (into July)...

        I guess I should note that one of the non-profits is the local printing & publishing craftmen's guild, so we have no problem with programs and files, formats, etc. All on Mac, all in the Adobe apps, no problem there.

        However, the other non-profit I'm working for is the local branch of a well-known youth soccer association. Up until I started working for them, they were passing pix and Word files to a local printer (not us) and getting back some mediocre stuff. I took it over and cleaned it up considerably. Eventually, I will have to hand over the reins to someone else, who may or may not be a professional in the field, which was my reasoning for using something without licenses or platform issues. if I do designate some platform/software solution that I Iike, it really may cripple the organizations efforts to move on after I have left the position.

        At worst if they have to go back to the previous printer to get the various pieces created, at least I have given them some value in my services for the amount of time that I have been working for them. Additionally, I can remain as an advisor to the next person involved in that area of the administration, which may be worth more to them than insisting on a given set of softwares/hardwares.

        I was glad to see your response, though, because I'm interested in what these programs can do. I may switch some of the documents over to these programs and see what I encounter using them. Thanks for the heads-up concerning the transparency issues, that's really good to know.

        Again, I really appreciate your input and it only strengthens my resolve to try these softwares and see how I can incorporate them into my style of work.


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