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There are a great range of open source tools out there for creating 2D and 3D graphics, to help you create stunning visuals for your website development or livening up your presentations.  Here are some of the most widely used tools.

Inkscape is an open source 2D drawing tool that helps you create graphic designs, from simple buttons and logos to full blown posters and web page designs. Inkscape is similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw and gives you a vector based graphics tool that uses the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format.  See my review of Inkscape Essential for web designers (or the slashdot review) and my Inkscape overview.

Blender is an amazing 3D modelling and animation tool that has seen a huge increase in adoption over the last few years.  Blender has been used to create some stunning short movies such as Sintel, Elephants Dream and the hilarious Big Buck Bunny.  Blender is also used to create many of the animations you see in advertising these days.  See my quick overview of Blender.

The GIMP is a very powerful image manipulation tool that allows you to tweak any image file format out there and has a wide range of filters you can use to create some amazing effects.  See my Gimp overview.

Scribus is a desktop publishing tool that can be used to make multi-page magazines or company brochures or any other documents that need professional layout tools.  See my Scribus overview.

If you are interested in really getting into these tools, Packt currently has a series of discounts and promotions on its selection of Open Source Graphic Applications and Library books. The Open Source Graphic Applications and Libraries Month will offer readers exclusive discounts of 20% and 30% off the cover price of selected Graphic print books until 5th May 2011.

The Open Source Graphic Applications and Libraries Month discounts refer to books written on software used for graphic design, multimedia development, specialized image development, general image editing, or modeling.

There are so many exciting Open Source projects for people who want to work with graphics, animation, or do some modeling. While some of them are easier to use than others, we’re committed to making it easy for anyone to use them, and unleash their creative potential. So far this year we’ve already published over 10 titles in this area, and we’ve got plenty more to come!” said Packt Open Source Publisher Doug Paterson.

To ensure you do not miss this fantastic offer, visit the special offer page now, where you can view the extensive list of books included in the offer and access an array of related articles that were written by authors.

For more information on the Open Source Graphic Applications and Libraries Month and the discounts being offered throughout April, please visit: www.packtpub.com/article/graphic-open-source

John Stevenson | @JR0cket | JR0cket.co.uk | JR0cket.com | LeanAgileMachine.com

Events coming up

This week there is the talk on ScalaZ by the London Scala user group and the Developer round table by the London Software Craftsmanship community.

Tonight (Monday 7th) I am running a games night to help people learn and explore kanban, lean and system thinking.  I am joined by Karl Scotland who is another experienced practitioner with experience of delivering agile and kanban practices to many organisations.  If you are new to kanban and the ideas behind it, then its a great opportunity to learn more in a practical way (no kanban experience required).  Many teams are starting to adopt kanban, so its a good time to learn.  If you have been using kanban for yourself or you team, then you can share your experience as you play the games and learn some ideas from others.

The LJC are running a Getting Started session on OSGi by Simon Maple (IBM) and Zoe Slatery (IBM) soon and you may want to read the blog post Martijn wrote on OSGi as a warm up.

From Martijn Verberg blog post – As OSGi matures as a technology for application developers and with Jigsaw also coming into the mix around Java 8, now is a good time to learn about modularisation technologies in the Java space.

For those of you who want to practice your test driven development skills, there is a code retreat on 12th March down in Winchester.  You will get a full day of TDD coding in a collaborative way and get to share ideas as a group.  If anyone wants the LJC to run another code retreat in London then why not suggest it as a meetup event.

If you want to practice your Clojure skills and learn more about functional programming, the March Clojure dojo (29th) is almost full, so sign up soon.

On Monday 14th I am running a workshop on distributed versus centralised version control, comparing git / mercurial / bazaar with subversion.  The workshop is mainly aimed at students and graduates, so if you know anyone who would benefit from this workshop, please let them know.

News
Full Circle magazine #46 is now out, full of useful guides and news on Ubuntu.  A special python programming edition has also been published to help get you started with the language.

Last week there was a major release of GlassFish Server 3.1.  This release extends the Java EE 6 Reference Implementation with new application development capabilities, centralised administration and high availability features.  Also including improved OSGi support for Java EE Applications, OSGi web console and Apache Felix 3.0.6 (Apache Gogo shell).  Another good feature is that when applications are re-deployed, GlassFish maintains HTTP session and EJB state, enabling rapid iterative development.  If you are new to Glassfish, also have a look at the community website.

Last week was also the first release (war) of Jenkins Continuous Integration server, since moving from the Oracle trademarked name Hudson.  There has been a flood of developer activity on GitHub and the project is looking very healthy.  There are also packages available for Ubuntu and Debian.  I’d be really interested in hearing from anyone else who has tried Jenkins CI, especially migrating from Hudson.

Summary of Last weeks events
There was a good sense of camaraderie and sharing of painful experiences as I discussed the frustration of working for a company with a Mafia-like culture.  It seems that there are still a great number of companies out there that have problems looking at the way they work, with everyone too busy getting on with today’s work (problems) without knowing if its really benefiting the organisation.  I had lots of questions in the pub afterwards and lots of feverish scribing during the talk, so I hope I imparted some useful survival tips and maybe the seeds of change. 

JAX London Preview night was a little wobbly, due to the fact we were on a boat on a busy Thames river.  I think the wavey nature of the boat added to the ambiance of the evening though.  There were two great talks that evening, one on event driven architecture with Comet and the other on lots of new things in spring 3.1 (features just released that day).  Everyone that braved the cold had a good evening and we were treated to drinks at the bar by the JAX London team (on Facebook now).  I had all the vitamins and minerals I needed for the rest of that week from the Guinness that was bought for me.  Thanks everyone.

I had my first book review published on Slashdot.org after a lot of trial and error.  The book was on Inkscape, a really great example of open source software which can be used to create all sorts of graphic design work, from simple buttons and logos to complete web site designs.  The Slashdot.org submission process is a bit fiddly and not quite so clearly documented as I’d like, so I wrote my own guide.  Thanks to Packt Publishing for supplying the Inkscape book.

If you have write-ups of any events, please let the list know or send them directly to me.
Thank you.

Those of you that are members of the LJC and have been with us for more than 6 months may remember that in November we had a large mailing list chat titled “passion, passion, passion” about inspiring passion for development, specifically within undergraduates. I thought I would give you a follow up on how this idea has progressed….

(As a reminder, here is a quote from the initial email):

[i]“I want to find ways to ignite passion into more graduates. From research I have conducted – people have said they feel that many grads don’t finish their degrees with a true passion for development and I’m interested to find ways to address this.”[/i]

We received a lot of suggestions from the email which gave me food for thought. A few weeks later we had our first London Java Unconference, during which I held a small discussion group to cover the subject of passion within undergraduates and we discussed several of the points raised from the email. A few people within the group stood out as sharing my enthusiasm for creating sparks of passion within graduates. Open Source Software was one of the recurring themes from both the emails and the discussion so we started to think about how we could get undergraduates more involved. After much discussion a small group of us decided to organize a full day event to give undergraduates an introduction to Open Source Software by getting them to work on real projects with actual committers. 

After months of planning, last Saturday we held the ‘Graduate Open Source Jumpstart London 2010’ and the results and following feedback have been extraordinary.

We had 9 projects in total, with 35 graduates attending from across the country as far as Edinburgh. If you are interested to read more about the event then please read the following post written by one of the undergraduates that attended the event: http://graduatedevelopmentcommunity.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/opensource-jumpstart-2010-event/

We are exceptionally grateful to all the mentors that came along (many of them members of the LJC) and everyone that helped out on the day. A special mention must also go to Zoe Slattery, Ben Evans, Martijn Verburg & Mark Hindness who worked tirelessly to make this event a possibility.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in the graduate development community either as an OSS project committer, a mentor or in any other capacity then let me know. We are also constantly looking for new ideas so if there’s something you think of then get in touch.

Barry Cranford

 

What is the LJC

The London Java Community (LJC) is a group of Java Enthusiasts who are interested in benefiting from shared knowledge in the industry. Through our forum and regular meetings you can keep in touch with the latest industry developments, learn new Java (& other JVM) technologies, meet other developers, discuss technical/non technical issues and network further throughout the Java Community.

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