Free (and fabulous) software online with Karl Gude

Karl Gude discusses free software online

No Photoshop? No Illustrator? No problem.

We all know the industry is in a budget crunch, and new software is probably nowhere in sight for your newsroom. But Michigan State University’s Karl Gude gave visual journalists a little hope — both financially and creatively.

Gude has been compiling a wiki of free online resources that make data visualization (almost) completely stress free for those without access to the Adobe Creative Suite. Whether you’re interested in creating a dynamic GIS map or seeking video editing software other than iMovie, Gude probably found a resource for you.

Taking advantage of the free software available is about more than having the prettiest pie chart or the best edited audio slideshow.

“You’re all self learners, and certainly for the students — I’ve never taken a software class in my life, and most of the people I know haven’t. It’s all about you wanting to better what you do. It keeps you competitive; it keeps you telling stories better than anybody else,” Gude said.

While some of the freeware has a sharper learning curve than others, there is something for anyone, at any experience level, and with any design or graphics interest.

Some of the freeware Gude touched on included:


  • Sketchup Pro
  • Away 3D
  • Papervision
  • Sketch


  • Audacity
  • Jaycut

Charts, network diagrams

  • GapMinder (Hanz Rosling)
  • Google Public Data Explorer


  • Google Docs
  • Google Fusion Tables
  • Many Eyes
  • Swivel
  • Tableau Public


  • Arc GIS explorer
  • GeoCommons
  • GunnMap
  • Shape2earth


  • Google Sites
  • Issuu
  • Posterous
  • Tumbler

“You can do everything right now. You don’t need to buy the Adobe suite. You don’t need to buy some really expensive GIS program,” Gude said.

To access Gude’s full list of free online software — or to add your own software — go to

Video: Karl Gude on Google Sketchup


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