Free For All: the Grand Finale

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This, my loyal readers, my dear friends, my fellow creative professionals, is the last installment of the “Free for All” column on CreativePro.com. I’m sure CreativePro.com will still publish about free tools and resources and I may find the column “Free for All” a new home in the future, but for now, this is good-bye to the column. To commemorate this last installment of “Free for All” on CreativePro.com I wanted to do something special. I went back to the beginning—to the alpha freebies, if you will—to what started this whole thing, way back in 2008. So as a nice little bookend to the run of this column, I’ve rewritten that first article here. I checked every freebie, removed any of the tools and sites that are no longer with us or no longer offer anything compelling for free, and replaced them with new free tools that do similar jobs—the latest, or omega, freebies. Each freebie is in a category of utility crucial to modern creatives and freelancers.

Alpha and Omega: The First and Final Freebies

When I pitched the idea for this article I thought it would be a relatively easy assignment. I thought: “heck, I personally use more than 10 free online tools other designers should know about, I’ll knock this piece out in no time.” Boy was I wrong! I know of so many great tools that fit the criteria that it was terribly arduous to pare the list down to only 10!

I had to choose only 10, and I chose based on greatest utility and broadest appeal. When that still left me with a very long list, I threw darts. (What? You want a mysterious explanation that makes me sound sagacious and inspired, or do you want the truth?)

Below are the 10 best free online tools designers should absolutely know about (and probably begin using right away), at least as determined by the throw of the darts.

1. Lorem Ipsum Generator

Sure, InDesign, InCopy, and QuarkXPress have built-in filler-text generators, but they only do paragraph type (without some work on your part). Moreover, few (if any) of your other design tools will generate placeholder text for you. Enter the universal solution to the problem: the Lorem Ipsum Generator. Available free and in 32 languages, the Lorem Ipsum Generator will produce placeholder text of any length you want simply by specifying the number of paragraphs, words, bytes, or lists. Bonus feature! Learn the true history behind Lorem Ipsum.

2. Color Inspiration and Community

Before Adobe Kuler there was—and still is—Colour Lovers. Colour Lovers is similar to Kuler in that you can create, share, and discuss color palettes, but it’s like Kuler all grown up. Both services allow you to create color palettes from scratch or from an uploaded image, and then tag, share, and discuss your palettes and others’, but Colour Lovers boast even more impressive features.

The second biggest advantage of Colour Lovers is the inclusion of patterns: It isn’t just colors and palettes that can be created and shared, but also patterns of colors, many of which were inspired by palettes shared in the community. Enhanced search capabilities make it easier to find colors, palettes, and patterns by hue, Web Hex color value, date, keyword, or popularity. And, the biggest advantage over Kuler, is the ability to download palettes not only in Adobe Swatch Exchange ASE format, but also as a Photoshop, Illustrator, or GIMP document, and HTML file listing the colors in Web Hex values, or even a Zip archive. Kuler offers only the ASE format.

Although Kuler boasts a better color mixing interface, the extra features of Colour Lovers nudges it ahead of Kuler in my (swatch) book.

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Comments

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We want to thank Pariah for all his awesome work on this column over the past five years. Of course, Pariah will (we hope!) continue writing his other great articles on the site! And the site will continue to offer more free resources for creative professionals as time goes by. Everyone loves freebies!

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Thank you for this, and all your hard work over the years. I am super bummed this is your last "Free for All" column — it was my favorite : (

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Thank you, thank you, thank you for the great tips you've provided over the years. The moment I see the "free for all" headline, I take time to peruse your info. Even if I haven't used it, I've valued the exposure to another resource that I might tap in the future. Thanks again, Pariah!

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CreativePro kidz: Come on, keep Pariah & this column. It's a big attraction, would be sorely missed. Surely you can work it out.

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Sorry to see it go. I always looked forward to the new offerings. Certainly the best most fun part of the site. (oh well, can't have anything nice)

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I’ve been using a number of these free tools for several years. But now I remember how I first started using them - it was your alpha article! Thanks, Pariah.

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Thanks for your years of articles Pariah!

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Another great project management tool we use is Trello. It doesn't really have file storage like others, but integrates perfectly with Google Docs and Dropbox. Is free, unlimited, robust and super easy. I didn't even read the how-to and had my project board migrated over and set up in an afternoon. Give it a look.

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Thank you so much Pariah for all the wonderful freebies you found, and for all the time you must have spent researching. Truly useful and very much appreciated.

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Thanks Pariah for all those fabulous freebies for so many years!

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Always liked the well thought out recommendations and will miss them. Thank you! Pariah.