Ever since the introduction of Adobes Creative Cloud subscription model, many of those working in digital media are confronted with the search for alternative digital tools that are still for purchase and that do not have to be rented for a monthly fee. The main reason for this search might not primarily be the monthly costs but rather the dependancy on a number of proprietary file formats that won't be editable after the end of the subscription. Since Adobe is not the only company that completely switched to the subscription model - other big companies like Autodesk also changed their licences to subscription only - the search for alternatives has developed into a comprehensive hunt for alternative software in the areas of imaging, desktop-publishing, vectorgraphics, webdesign, video-editing, animation, 3D-design and audio.
It is interesting, that at the same time as the introduction of the subscription models, numerous alternative software developers advertise their conventional licencing as opposed to the subscription models, trying to attract those who decided against renting software. In addition to that, a number of open source programs are being developed, sometimes with incredible leaps in development. Very often these software projects can be seen as vital alternatives to commercial products.
The following list is divided into the aforementioned areas and consists of software that we consider to be especially interesting in the digital media teaching environment of an art school. We don't regard this list as being complete, we simply listed the programs that found their way into our daily work as substitutes of subscription-only software.
By no means do we want to cast a poor light on Adobes Creative Cloud and other listed software that we tried to substitute with alternative applications. Many of these software titles have been the industry's standard for a long time and that in our opinion rightly so. However we also think that neither young artists at the beginning of their career nor art teachers are the targeted group of customers of companies offering such licence models and neither are the countless enthusiasts who might have bought a licence every now and then. For all those our list may serve as a starting point for their search for the right digital tools, far away from the monopolies of big software companies.
The list entries that we set in bold are the applications that we personally prefer. That, however, should not belittle any other program in that list.
Thorsten Nerling and Oliver Wetterauer
last update: 8.1.2018
A list of
propietary software as a