Documentation and Image Editing Tools is a collection of free and/or open source tools for creating and sharing design documentation, diagrams, images. Great for Desktop Publishing, Graphic Design, Digital Photography, Industrial Design, etc.

Ideally all documentation and image outputs would be created using open source tools so that anyone anywhere can open, edit, and contribute to the further development of the design files.


Some free, open source document creation tools:

  • OpenOffice is a great Open Source replacement to Office documents (for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more). Works with Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • LibreOffice is the Oracle-Free Win, Mac, Linux office suite
  • Scribus is a Layout Editing and Desktop Publishing tool. It is open source and works with Linux, Mac, and Windows among others. Supports direct publish to PDF.
  • Freemind is an open source mind mapping/chart creation tool excellent for collaborative brainstorming, creating document outlines, or doing whatever mind maps do best! Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Thinking Space is a free tool on Android that can also work with this format for edits on the run.
  • Dia is an open source diagram maker analagous to MS Visio. Works on GNU/Linux, MacOS X, Unix, and Windows, and is released under the GPL license.

Some free, open source Image Editing tools:

  • Gimp is the defacto-standard for image authoring, photo retouching, image composition, and image conversion. Powerful like Adobe Photoshop; open source and works with Linux, Mac, and Windows
  • Inkscape is a Vector-based image editor like Illustrator or CorelDraw. Open source and works with Linux, Mac, and Windows. Has many powerful plug-ins. See gcode_tools for uses of Inkscape for gcode creation using such a plug-in / extension.

Pulling some content from this forum thread, more can / should be harvested

If you want a drag and drop GUI, they aren't that, though various front ends exist. 
If you need to batch process images or video or especially turn images into movie frames or vice versa,
these are fantastic tools. Windows would not be the preferred format for FFMPEG, 
I haven't been able to get it to run recently, but Mac or Linux is fine.
Gnuplot has a bit of a learning curve, but it's pretty amazing at presenting data. 
I went with bar graphs with a center 0 axis and a heat map based on unrelated data off to the side.
Turned out quite well I then dumped a bunch of the charts as png and then created a quick movie clip, very cool.
  • Imagemagick set of image editing utilities
  • FFMPEG Primarily a video editing utility, can do stills to movie and movie to stills
  • Gnuplot A plotting and charting program, want to automate charts like you might generate in Excel, without having to point and click 20 times, need to use more than a million rows, 30,000 columns, or make charts that integrate multiple charts and chart types all in one? does all kinds of other handy stuff too.
  • Blender is a great way to create still images from your 3D models. Works in Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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Preferred PDF tools:

Sometimes it's nice to have a quick-open, reference version of a documentation file. The PDF format is fairly ubiquitous and offers a way for anyone to open the reference version of your documentation.

  • PDF Creator has been a high quality Windows-only PDF tool that seems to have had the least amount of bugs when converting files to PDF. Unlike other free PDF tools, this piece of software first uses GhostScript to convert the source file to a PostScript file, and THEN it converts that to a PDF. This extra step seems to help eliminate some of the issues seen with other free PDF tools. This works with Windows only. Hint, start PDF Creator from “All Programs” first, then select it as your printer, just selecting it as a printer gives me problems some times
  • Mac OS X users can create a PDF from almost any application that can print. Also undocumented feature you can drag a page of one pdf into another from the Sidebar, incredibly handy.
  • Please add favorite, low bug count, open-source PDF tools for Mac and Linux

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