Archives / 2005 / September
  • [Tools] FreeMind Version 0.8.0 Released!

    A new version of FreeMind has just been released.  Version 0.8.0 represents a major evolution and brings FreeMind to a high level of usefulness.  You really can do a lot of fun stuff with it and it will export mind maps to a variety of targets.  FreeMind is both Open-Source and free-as-in-beer.  As of Version 0.8.0, I can strongly recommend this fine tool.  By the way, I consider mind mapping software an essential element in the software architect's tool kit.  I am very happy that such a cool tool is now available for free to anyone who needs it.  Many thanks to the Authors and Contributors!

  • [Tools] Another SMART tool for UML

    SMART is described on its site as "a UML modeling tool based on UML2.0 ('UML Modeler') with a tool for test driven development of models."  The approach taken for SMART  is very different from most other UML tools.  It is designed for Test Driven Development of Models (TDDM) and is the result of a research project integrating AGILE and Model-based methodologies at Hayashi Laboratory in Kobe-University.  Not all diagrams are supported and, again, the approach is rather different.  It appears that source will be provided at some point, as there is a place-holder for it on the project's web page.  After a walk-through of some of the demos and tutorials, I think this tool bears a closer look.  The TDDM approach and the use of "executable models" mark SMART out as potentially quite useful.

  • [Tools] Some Graphics Tools

    Summary: This is a list of some great Open Source and free graphics editors and utilities that may be generally useful. Also, one interesting non-free, closed-source Microsoft Beta project is included because of its coolness factor.
    2D Graphics Editors:
    • "The GIMP":- The canonical attempt at a free Open Source graphics editor.  The user interface is a bit strange, as the GIMP came from the Linux community.  Seasoned Photoshop users may want to see the next link, though.
    • "GIMPshop": - "Basically it is just a hack of the current GIMP-sourcecode changing the menustructure, naming and key-bindings to be more like Photoshop."  See "Announcing GIMPShop": for details.
    • "Inkscape": - "Inkscape is an open source drawing tool with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, and CorelDraw that uses the W3C standard scalable vector graphics format (SVG). Some supported SVG features include basic shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, and grouping. In addition, Inkscape supports Creative Commons meta-data, node-editing, layers, complex path operations, text-on-path, and SVG XML editing. It also imports several formats like EPS, Postscript, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats."
    • "Paint.NET": is a .NET replacement for Windows Paint.  It adds considerable graphics and image editing capability and is both free and Open Source (MIT license).
    • "ImageMagick": is a free, Open Source (GPL) system for creating and editing bitmapped images.  It includes support for text, lines, polygons, ellipses and Bézier curves and has many advanced features.  "ImageMagick" supports over 90 graphics formats and can convert between them. You can download the Windows-ready binary here.
    • "Microsoft Acrylic Beta": - "Acrylic" is the codename for "an innovative illustration, painting and graphics tool that provides exciting creative capabilities for designers working in print, web, video, and interactive media."  It evolved from Creature House Expression 3, which Microsoft bought in 2003.  Acrylic lets you seamlessly blend vector paths and bitmapped images.  This is a powerful new tool, but do be aware that it is currently a Beta of something that will be part of Microsoft Expressions, a new licensed Microsoft product.
    3D Graphics Editors:
    • "Blender 3D": - Blender is an extremely capable free, and Open Source 3D graphics editor.  See the Gallery  for examples.
    • "Wings 3D": - Wings 3D is a powerful 3D subdivision modeler.  See the Site Gallery for some simple examples of what Wings 3D can do.
    • "Autodesk Gmax": - A free, but not Open Source, 3D modeling and animation software product based on the award-winning Autodesk® 3ds Max® software.  Registration required.  While Gmax is targeted towards game graphics tweakers, it is useful beyond that market.
    Image Viewers/Editors:
    • "IrfanView": - This is a "must have" graphics viewing and tweaking tool.  It's great for basic image processing, resizing, and format converting.  Free "as in beer" but not Open Source.  IrfanView also provides excellent screen capture functionality and has many other useful features.
    • "ForceVision": - An award-winning free, but not Open Source, image viewer and bitmap editor.
    Other Graphics Tools:

  • [Tools] IIS Admin

    This free tool, IIS Admin, overcomes a limitation where IIS only allows one configured default website at a time.  It looks like a potentially useful addition to any Web developer's kit.  See the explanation on the site for details.