NVU the Free Alternative to Dreamweaver

NVU for web design

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of free programs out there as an alternative to the commercial ones. NVU is an open source web design package that can be used in both design and code view. If you are looking for a WYSIWYG editor and don’t want to pay out a few hundred pounds/dollars for Dreamweaver NVU may be worth taking a look at, it’s available for Mac, PC and Linux to download for free.

Features as listed on the NVU site:

  • WYSIWYG editing of pages, making web creation as easy as typing a letter with your word processor.
  • Integrated file management via FTP. Simply login to your web site and navigate through your files, editing web pages on the fly, directly from your site.
  • Reliable HTML code creation that will work with all of today’s most popular browsers.
  • Jump between WYSIWYG Editing Mode and HTML using tabs.
  • Tabbed editing to make working on multiple pages a snap.
  • Powerful support for forms, tables, and templates.

Take a look also at Rachael at Calmbanana’s posts about designing a website for free

IPhotobuddy Helps Organise your Images in iPhoto

iPhotobuddy

When I first started using Mac OSX I really liked iPhoto, it was a great way to organise my images so I could easily access both my personal photos and images for my designs. As my gallery of images got bigger though, not surprisingly iPhoto became pretty sluggish, especially on opening and I began to avoid opening it as much as possible. It always really annoyed me that I couldn’t just create a new gallery only view the images I wanted without the whole catalogue having to load first. I have just downloaded iPhotobuddy which lets you do just that. Say for instance I wanted to create a gallery of images for design inspiration – you simply open iPhotobuddy create your new folder called “Design Inspiration” (using the + button bottom left) click on that folder and it will open up in iPhoto without opening up all your other photos, then you can start adding images and organising them into subfolders within iPhoto as usual. I wish I had found this freeware application ages ago.

You can download iPhotobuddy for free from tucows

Strata 3D – Design Visuals for Packaging, Point of Sale and Illustration

screenIf you have ever had to produce packaging visuals for a client you know you need them to look as realistic as possible. By having realistic visuals they’re are more liable to be able to sell their products into shops more easily and hence you hopefully get more work
I use Strata 3D to create my packaging and 3D visuals. The thing I like about Strata 3D is it is very user friendly and much more Mac like that a lot of 3D design programmes. I have also dabbled with Cinema 3D and Lightwave but the learning curve was just to steep and far too complex for my needs.

In Strata 3D you can draw a box and then use “box wrapper” which allows you to import a graphic into each face of a box. So you design your packaging in Quark or illustrator and create jpegs of the faces and upload them as textures in a box wrapper. Put some lighting on the box and a floor level, render it and you have realistic looking packaging visual.

You can also create animations and Quicktime VR where you create an animation which allows a user to more the box around to look at all side, it is not a feature I usually use but it can be done.

Strata 3D is great for box like structures and geometric shapes quickly, reat for POS and exhibition visuals. It can also be used to create organic shapes – meld is an easy way of doing this – basically you create shapes such as spheres or cylinders apply “meld” and they all sort of blob together. You can change settings so they become more or less blobby (sorry about the terminology its hard to describe). You can also extrude, lathe and pull meshes around. If you have never tried 3D give it a try

Below is an example of some characters I created using Strata 3D and Photoshop

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