Budget quality alternative to Photoshop and Fireworks

Lately I’ve been getting fed-up with Adobe Photoshop. The thing is I don’t use Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks everyday, indeed there are probably whole weeks maybe even months when I don’t touch these products.  That makes the learning curve long and when you just want to get something done quickly the level of frustration high.  I spend most of my time in programs like Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, writing reports, developing budgets, plans and preparing presentations.  I occasionally need to do some graphic design work which is beyond the simple scope of these Microsoft Office tools.  For me now Adobe Photoshop is overkill and too expensive for the use I get from it.  Adobe Photoshop Elements always suffers from not quite having what you need and is burdened with the legacy of Photoshop.  I liked Macromedia Fireworks but under Adobes ownership it has been neglected and is essentially a dead product.

With all this in mind I’ve been looking for simple, quality and hopefully inexpensive Mac based alternatives; and I think I’ve now found a good set of tools.

Pixelmator, v2.2

When I bought this it was in the Mac App Store for just £10.49.  It’s a very high quality piece of software, well crafted to use all the native features of OS X 10.8+.  To me this application feels right.  I say that as a Word, Excel, Powerpoint user rather than someone who went to Art College and probably has a better feel for what Photoshop is trying to do.  It’s got a clean simple interface that doesn’t get in the way of getting the job done.  At £10.49 well worth a try as an alternative to Photoshop or Fireworks, you may find you never need those more expensive tools.

Coda 2.0

This is a great alternative to Dreamweaver. At £49.99 it was a bit of a gamble but has proven to be worth every penny.  I’ve now given up using Dreamweaver and use Coda all the time for HTML, CSS and PHP editing. It’s got a nice code editor with syntax highlighting and code completion.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do.  I’m still perfecting my workflow between Pixelmator and Coda.  It’s certainly no worse than working with two products from Adobe – I know in theory you could roundtrip assets from Dreamweaver into Fireworks but it never worked well for me.  Coda is a good native OSX 10.8+ app so I find that I can drag graphics files saved from Pixelmator directly onto the remote server view in Coda and they are instantly deployed to the site I’m editing. You can then drag the graphic from the directory listing into the Coda editor and it will automatically create the image tag with the correct path and filename.

I hope this is of some help to you.  Let me know what you think make reasonable price alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Fireworks now.


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