Sunday, November 05, 2006

Free Software for Chess Bloggers

There is now so much free software on the web that your average chess blogger can look like a pro without investing a dime on his tools. There is ChessUp for diagrams; Arena or SCID as your database and graphical user interface for analyzing with free chess engines; Blogger for posting your blog; and Palview plus PalMate or ChessPublisher (see here, here and here) or some other free program for generating java applet chessboards. Those with some web graphics experience can now add one more freebie to the list: The Gimp.

the gimp logo

An excellent and FREE alternative to Adobe Photoshop for general graphics creation and image editing, The Gimp can be downloaded from www.gimp.net. Windows users should be sure to download and install the proper Runtime Environment before installing the program itself.

the gimp toolbox

The GIMP Toolbar

I've been trying it out recently and like it a lot. Having gotten a new machine not long ago and misplaced my Photoshop installation disk, I was glad to find this alternative. Many of the tools are the same or similar to those offered by Photoshop so it is easy to just jump in and start working intuitively, learning as you go. If you want to add graphics to your blog or edit your photos before posting them, and you have some time to learn a new tool or Photoshop experience to guide you (but no money to buy Photoshop itself), then this might be the perfect solution.

I welcome suggestions for any other free programs you have found useful for chess blogging.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a way to add board diagrams to your blog without actually generating and uploading an image file. Just pass a FEN-style string to a particular URL and the image is generated for you on the fly. It's described here:

http://www.eddins.net/steve/chess/2006/10/22/45

And here's the URL for the starting position diagram:

http://www.eddins.net/steve/chess/diagram.php?fen=rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR/

-Steve Eddins

Trent said...

I still use Paint Shop Pro 5, which I bought in 1998 for $90. I think they are up to version 10 now, but 5 does everything I need, plus it starts up in 2 seconds :) Gimp is great for more advanced operations.

We have tons of free community software available to us these days. My chess blog uses WordPress, and my forums use phpBB. I had to write a little code to integrate them with the rest of my site, but other than that, it was 1-click installation.

The drag-n-drop & color picker features of ChessUp were based on pre-written libraries (although considerable modification was neccessary on my part). It would have taken me forever to write those things from scratch.

Michael Goeller said...

I should have mentioned phpBB, which a number of my friends have used and found very easy. You just need a basic knowledge of MySQL and PHP to set it up.

Michael Goeller said...

Also worth mentioning is Diagram Transfer for diagrams used by the Streatham & Brixton CC Blog.

Ryan Emmett said...

Thanks for the round up of software - very useful! Inspired by your blog, I have moved my blog from Yahoo360 to Blogger.

Thanks again. :)