Five Bits of Free Software I Like to Use

Five Bits of Free Software I Like to Use

View profile for David Gilroy
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You might not always have time to do things the long way, and you might not always want to spend a fortune. For those times, I've put together a list of free tools that can help with all the extras. If you have any more to add to the list, get in touch. 

1. BatchGeo ​

If you’ve ever seen interactive maps online and wanted to do one of your own, BatchGeo is a simple and effective way of doing so. If you already know how to make an interactive map the hard way using code, that’s great. But if you’re looking to save time, or if you’re not familiar with JavaScript and don’t have the time to learn to code, BatchGeo cuts corners without losing out on the quality.

All that’s needed from you is to copy and paste your data directly from Excel and click ‘map now’, save it, give it a title, and there you have it – a perfectly functioning interactive map. Over 25,000 businesses are using BatchGeo daily due its ease-of-use. This one’s a total time-saver.


GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and is essentially a free Photoshop with a different interface. While it may not be as extensive as its Adobe cousin, it’s 100% less expensive and yet still has many of the same functions for image editing. GIMP can be used for free-form drawing as well as editing, cropping, photo-montages and simple things like converting image formats. However, if you want even more from it, you can expand its capabilities through plug-ins and extensions. It’s available for all distributions of Linux, Windows and OS X and upon downloading the application you will be greeted by the GIMP mascot, Wilber, a cute little cartoon dog. (That’s one thing Photoshop doesn’t have!)

3. Zoom

Zoom offers a high definition video cloud conferencing solution, which makes online meetings simple and easy. With the possibility of adding up to 50 participants, the ability to screenshare and send instant messages, Zoom aimed to transform the cloud collaboration experience. And they have.

To initiate a meeting, you can sign in to Zoom with a Facebook or Gmail account and download the Zoom app, available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Linux, Zoom Rooms, and H.323/SIP room systems. Then it’s as easy as sending the link to your meeting invitees through email, instant message or however you choose. And that’s it, if they already have the app they accept to join, if not it takes seconds to download and install before joining the meeting. I like Zoom because it cuts out the faffing around. It’s an instant connection to a virtual meeting and has everything covered. Apart from your cup of tea. You’ll have to make that yourself.

4. XMind

XMind is a mind mapping software that allows for users to create and share mind maps, enabling you to capture your thoughts into words or charts to give them more clarity. Through making your mind-maps public, you can collaborate with colleagues to brainstorm ideas for projects. Think of a time you had an idea and you scribbled it on a post-it and the next day you couldn’t find it, or you could but you couldn’t remember what you meant. XMind is the opposite of this, and has extensive tools to ensure things are clear and straightforward for your team to understand. Your upgraded post-it note is now an ‘Idea Factory’, a space that is made for you to jot down initial thoughts if you aren’t ready to make a map straight away. The free version lets you use all diagrams, share your maps on the web, share through Local network Sharing and save to Evernote. While the pro versions do offer a few additions such as exporting to PDF and access to the ‘Creative Toolbox,’ the free version has all the essentials.

5. SuiteCRM

SuiteCRM is a fork of the granddaddy of open source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, SugarCRM. It’s open source nature means it’s one the most customisable CRM products on the market, with the possibility to customise modules to suit your needs and your firm’s unique style of working. The simple interface is so easy to use that it’s almost effortless for those who are new to CRM to get going with it. While its main selling is its flexibility, it’s highly regarded as solid and trustworthy CRM application. You can manage your workflow, track leads, track progress on projects, import and export data. However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more on customisations and plugins: the possibilities are endless.