Has COVID-19 Got You Looking to Find Ways to Save Your Business Money?
Looking to Save Your Business Money?
The current lockdowns and restrictions presented to you during the COVID-19 crisis will have left you wondering if there is a way of reducing your costs whether you are a business startup or an existing business. All businesses use software in some form or another and software can work out to be quite expensive to purchase and keep up-to-date. Some software companies will charge a subscription fee where a monthly or annual fee is required for each user of the application. There is however another way to have software and not incur expensive overheads. Read on to find out how...
What is Software?
Believe it or not all businesses use software in one form or another. You may have written a letter on your computer, then you would have used a piece of software known as a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, to do this. You might have done some financial planning, then you would have used another software application known as a spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel. There are literally millions of software applications out there, some designed for specific tasks with others being a little more general purpose. Most software that you have heard of will come from a large software company, ie. Microsoft or Adobe, but there are alternatives to these companies that can work very well within your organisation and be just as good, the only difference is they don't cost you a penny.
Open Source Software
Open Source Software has existed for a very long time and dates all the way back to Richard Stallman’s Free Software Movement in 1983 when he launched the GNU Project (GNU stands for GNU’s Not Unix). This software is available for free and can be installed on any number of computers without incurring any licensing fees or additional costs. You are free to use it forever without incurring any costs and even upgrades are provided completely free of charge. In fact the Internet is completely dependent on software developed through the various Open Source Communities out there.
What is Open Source Software?
Open Source Software is software developed by a community process involving people from all over the world who may be employed by large companies such as IBM, Apple, Oracle etc to individuals who just love to contribute to a project that will help them develop their knowledge or that they know will be of great benefit to other people.
The reason it is called Open Source Software is because that’s exactly what it is – the source code for the application is available to download, view and alter for your own use. If you decide to distribute the software that you have developed from this code then you must include the source code for your modifications when you distribute it.
Below we will discuss a small selection of software that is available from the Open Source community.
Microsoft Office is by far the most used software in the world and it does offer a free version on the web but that lacks several features that are present in the desktop application and which could be useful to a business. To get a fully featured version you need to either pay a subscription fee per user or purchase copies of the Office application to install on your desktop PCs which can prove costly for your business.
LibreOffice is probably the most famous Open Source application. It provides a complete alternative to Microsoft Office completely free of charge. Once installed it provides several applications that are complementary to Microsoft Office. These are as follows:
Write – This is the equivalent of Microsoft Word and is used for word processing. It is a fully featured word processor including functionality such as mail merge. Write can open and save Microsoft Office documents
Calc – Calc is the equivalent of Microsoft Excel and is the spreadsheet program of LibreOffice. Again you can import your Excel spreadsheets.
Base – Base is a simple database program similar to Microsoft Access. You can create databases here such as mailing lists and import them into LibreOffice Write or Calc.
Draw – Draw is a graphics package capable of creating some very complex designs and can be used for creating posters, business cards, fliers etc. It can even design multi-page documents. You can load a wide range of different file formats with the application.
Math – Math is used to create mathematical formulae that can be imported into Write and Calc.
Impress – Impress is a presentation package similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and can import PowerPoint documents.
Emails and Calendaring
Being able to send emails is just as important as writing a letter these days and computers can certainly help you keep on top of your daily tasks and appointments.
Thunderbird is an email client capable of managing your email contacts and calendar appointments. It can be easily configured to work with a variety of email providers and the calendar can be integrated with various cloud providers.
Sometimes you need to edit your promotional shots to really make them stand out and Open Source can provide several applications that can do just that.
It may have a slightly disturbing name but the GIMP is a really powerful graphics application. The name is an acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Programme and is a very capable alternative to PhotoShop and supports a wide range of graphics formats
Darktable is a solution similar to Adobe Lightroom. It is available on Windows, MacOS and Linux but the Windows port is quite new and may have a few “rough edges”. Darktable features 61 image operation modules to help you adjust brightness, contrast, tone, exposure etc.
Natron is an open source alternative to Adobe After Effects. It is a powerful digital compositor and supports additional plugins through the Open Effects Association plugin system with over 250 additional plugins available. It supports Rotoscoping, Tracking, Keying, GPU & Network Rendering and so much more.
This application is an alternative to Adobe’s Premiere software. It has an extremely easy to use user interface and is extremely easy to get used to. It is very good for people just starting out with video editing.
Graphic design software can be very expensive to purchase and to keep up-to-date. Luckily there are several options available through the open source community and we have listed 2 of them below:
Inkscape is a graphic design program that is similar to Adobe’s Illustrator. You can use it to easily to design pretty much anything from posters, flyers, business cards etc. You can also export your designs to PDF, EPS, AutoCad DXF R12/R14, Flash XML Graphics etc.
Scribus is a full page layout application good for creating pamphlets, flyers etc and is equivalent to Adobe’s InDesign and QuarkXPress. It support professional printing features such as CMYK colours, spot colours, ICC colour management and versatile PDF creation.
If your needs are for software that is a little bit more tailored to your requirements but don’t have a huge budget to pay for it, Buzy Bee Software Services offers Bespoke Software as a Service. With this service we will build your custom application for you and you pay a monthly fee to access it. The monthly fee covers you for any updates to your software you may require as your business grows and adapts. Why not contact us to find out more about this service.