The Best of Open Source


Open Source. It’s a concept that has quietly become one of the greatest influences on innovation in history. Open Source is an approach to design and development that believes in the sharing of ideas and information for the purpose of creation. Because Open Source projects are public projects, the products or concepts are free to use and develop with.

Due to the Internet’s power to connect like-minded people, this had been a popular method of working together, especially on internet related projects. The variety and diversity of open source projects on the internet is amazing. In this post, we’ll list of some notable open source projects that are relevant to graphic design and web development.


Drupal is an open source content management system. It offers users some great features such as the ability to access statistics and logs, an advanced search feature, a feed aggregator, profiles, comments, forums, polls, security and even OpenID support. Drupal was originally written as message board software by developer Dries Buytaert. It became open source in 2001. From May 2007 to April 2008, Drupal was downloaded more than 1.4 million times. In 2008, it was voted the best open source content management system by the CMS Awards.


Similar to Drupal, WordPress is Content Management System for blogs and websites. The brainchild of Matt Mullenweg, who is unlucky at cards, WordPress first appeared in 2003. The power of WordPress lies in its easy to navigate admin panel and slick system of changing the look and feel of a website quickly by selecting a new theme. Plug-ins are another great benefit of using WordPress. Due to it’s popularity, there is a vast number of plugins that will do a variety of different things. From automatically adding Adsense code to, adding a dropdown menu to navigation, the chances are very good that what you are looking for is out there.


The GIMP (or GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an image editor. It is a raster editor, which means it allows users to paint and edit pictures interactively. The GIMP is typically used for creating logos, and is very similar to Adobe Photoshop, but it was never designed to be a Photoshop clone. The development of the GIMP started all the way back in 1995. The wolf which is used as the mascot to the project is known affectionately as Wilber.


Scribus is an open source desktop publishing system, and is widely recommended as a free alternative to such expensive software as QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign and Adobe PageMaker. It can create newsletters, as well as animated and interactive PDF files. The newsletters it produces are print ready, which is a bonus. It was first released on June 16th, 2003.


Audacity is a free audio recording application. It has many cool editing features, including noise removal and frequency change. As of the 30th January 2009, it had received over 54 million downloads on, a popular open source software hosting site. In 2007, it won the SourceForge Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia. All in all, a great piece of software.

Open Office

Open Office is a free software package which is available for many operating systems. It offers all the features of the Microsoft Office package, and it has a very slick interface. It was released in July of 2000. In 2008, it was voted as the best open source software package by

Form Tools

Form Tools is a system for web developers who work on online registration sites, or sites that require any form of information gathering from their online visitors. This system provides automatic sending and storage of registration and feedback forms meaning there is no need to reprogram a form each time it’s designed. Form Tools was written and designed by Ben Keen of Black Sheep Web Software who resides in Vancouver. Form Tools remains one of my best Open Source finds over the years.

All in all, open source projects provide great opportunity and value for both the developer and the end-user. There are many more available on the web, and the best place to find them is SourceForge, the open source software host.

If you know of any other great open source projects, let us know in the comments section of this post!