Ten Free Software Tools for the Cost-Conscious Consultant - Slide 3

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Diagramming and flowcharts: Dia

The Dia diagram editor (current version, 0.97.1) is a GPL, v2 software package that is, as you'd expect, very similar to Microsoft's standard Visio tool set. Dia supports layering, some advanced drawing methods such as Beziergon point manipulation, and AntiAliasing when you really want your output to shine. More importantly, it includes a menu of more than 30 conventional icon sets (you can see the Cisco and Network menus above) and exports to a wide range of open and proprietary formats, including Visio XML and the LaTeX doc preparation system.

Free, unlimited use.

Consultants need to do a little bit of everything, and that can mean loading up on a lot of potentially expensive software packages. Thank goodness for open source freeware projects and proprietary software publishers who give away powerful free samples as a marketing tactic.

These software packages provide more than adequate – sometimes surprisingly powerful – functionality for your Windows-based PC, and interoperate quite nicely with brand-name apps. They won't necessarily replace industry-standard tools for your core business; professional project managers are still going to have to bite that $500 bullet for a seat of MS Project.

But for general productivity and most niche tasks, software doesn't have to cost a lot, or anything, for that matter. These tools don't expire and won't frustrate you by suppressing necessary functionality. They just work.

This slideshow features 10 free client software packages identified by Ken-Hardin, an independent business analyst and management consultant, as well as an IT Business Edge alumnus.

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