I Heart Free Software

I love free software! I love the fact that we live in a generous world where we have a) highly paid, highly trained people who work together to make stuff for other to use for free, b) highly paid, highly trained people who are motivated by philanthropic trusts to make stuff that is then made available for free, and c) highly paid, highly trained people who make smart business decisions to make their products for free to certain segments of their customers. Below I’d like to — as the kids say it these days — “love on” three free products that I use regularly that exemplify each of these approaches.

  • First up is Calibre, a software developed by Kovid Goyal at CalTech that’s a “free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books”. Think of it as a your personal library manager. If you either own a large number of ebooks or have aspirations to become as much of an e-book hoarder as I am, Calibre is a must. And it’s a free product all developed & maintained on volunteer time. So awesome!


  • You know that I detest the obsession with formal citations. And that’s why I love Zotero, a bibliographic citation program that makes the citation process take up the least part of your brain (and curses) as possible. Zotero “is the only research tool that automatically senses content, allowing you to add it to your personal library with a single click”*. So nice; so free, thanks to the financial support of the Andrew P. Mellon Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (plus others and volunteers).


(* PDFs seem to be the only format where this magical sensing of content doesn’t work. Here’s to hoping that that will change with the next Zotero update!)

  • Last up is Axure, a software that lets you do wireframe mockups. Axure founders hail from Berkeley, the city of free love, but the software isn’t free unless you qualify for their “good student = free license” deal. And the geek shall inherit the earth!

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2 Responses to I Heart Free Software

  1. O yes, I should also mention that I’ve been a terrible person so far, using Calibre without making a single donation towards the project. Once I have a job, however, I swear that I will give money to the good folks at Calibre!

  2. Aha! Zotero already does create metadata from PDF through its Fulltext PDF Indexing tool. Another case of user ignorance rather than software limitation.

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