Toolkit

This page contains links to a variety of tools (mostly free) that you can use for your final projects.

Please check back regularly as this list of resources will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Game making tools

GameMaker: Studio

A good, fairly straightforward 2D game programming environment. The base software is available for free, for both Windows and Mac, and comes with plenty of tutorials to get you started. The free version can publish in a limited amount of formats.

Unity

Unity is a very robust and advanced 3D programming environment, suitable for people who already have some coding experience. It exports to a wide variety of formats and is also available for free, for both Mac and Windows.

Twine

Twine is a free ‘interactive fiction’ tool, which allows you to create your own text-based adventure games. Think an online, hyperlinked (and shorter) versions of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

Story making tools

Comic strip makers

See this page for a list of free online comic strip creation tools.

Stop motion animation

Video editing tools

VideoSpin

Pinnacle VideoSpin works perfectly well for the average user who wants to create an easy video presentation including video clips, photos, sound effects and background music. The program features support for the most popular file formats, plus a nicely designed interface that divides the working area into three main sections: the list of material you can add to your presentation, a preview window and a timeline.

Blender

A somewhat advanced tool for 3-D creation and animation. Use it to create 3-D models, shade, animate, and render. Could be used to model game design.

Windows Movie Maker

Quickly add photos and footage from your PC or camera into Movie Maker. Then fine tune your movie just the way you want it. You can move things around, speed it up or slow it down—it’s up to you. Enhance your movie with audio and a theme. Movie Maker adds transitions and effects automatically.

Story Board Pro

Atomic Learning’s Video StoryBoard Pro is designed to give teachers, students, and home movie makers a tool to plan ahead when creating video projects.

Photo editing tools

Pixlr
Pixlr is a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities, including a number of photo editor, as screen grabber browser extension, and a photo sharing service. There are three applications in the suite: Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express and Pixlr-o-matic, depending on how advanced the editing needs to be.

Photoshop Express Editor
Another free browser-based editing tool. Quickly crop, straighten, adjust color, and fix other small flaws. Then add visual style with eye-catching filters, effects, and borders.

Paint.NET
Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

MyPaint
For those of you who have an interest in digital art, MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters. It includes a large brush collection including charcoal and ink to emulate real media, but the highly configurable brush engine allows you to experiment with your own brushes and with not-quite-natural painting.

PaintStar
PaintStar is a versatile digital image processing software suitable for such tasks as retouching of photographs, composing and authoring images, image morphing, and screen capture. It supports alpha, layer, path ,and the most common editing techniques. PaintStar has many of the tools and filters you would expect to find in commercial offerings, and some interesting extras as well.

Data visualization tools

Tableau Public

Tableau Public is a free service that allows you to create interactive graphs, dashboards, maps and tables from virtually any data and embed them on your website or share it. Once on the web, anyone can interact with the data, download it, or create their own visualizations of it.

Tableau Public

Many Eyes

On Many Eyes you can view and discuss visualizations, view and discuss data sets, and create visualizations from existing data sets. If you register (free), you can upload your own data for visualizations. Any visualization you create will be public to other users.

Many Eyes

Infogr.am

Infogr.am is an online service that lets you create, share, discover infographics and online charts. Pick a pre-designed infographic template made by Infogr.am’s designers. Add charts, videos and maps. You can also make an animated online chart in a few minutes. Import data from MS Excel or CSV, edit with the online Excel compatible spreadsheet, and then share or save.

Infogr.am

OpenHeatMap

OpenHeatMap is a service designed to make it easy for non-specialists to create maps communicating information, especially intensity and geographical data. It transforms data from a traditional data source such as a spreadsheet into an interactive animated view of a particular area. You can then share that map online, a bit like YouTube for geographic visualizations.

OpenHeatMap

Easel.ly

By registering for Easel.ly (currently in beta), you gain access to a number of infographic templates, which you can then customize to display your information in a creative, eye-catching way. The available themes are a bit limited, but you can also choose to start with a blank slate and add backgrounds, shapes, graphics, and text in the “canvas” application. You can also upload files to add to your infographic.

Easelly

Dipity

Dipity is a free digital timeline website. Users can create, share, embed and collaborate on interactive, visually engaging timelines that integrate video, audio, images, text, links, social media, location and timestamps.

Dipity

Visualize Free

Visualize Free is a free visual analysis tool based on the advanced commercial dashboard and visualization software developed by InetSoft. Visualization is the perfect technique for sifting through multi-dimensional data to spot trends and aberrations or slice and dice data with simple point-and-click methods. If you are looking for a way to visually explore and present data that standard office charting software cannot handle, Visualize Free is for you.

       Visualize Free

StatSilk

StatPlanet – interactive maps
StatTrends – create interactive graphs and charts

StatTrend

Prefuse Flare

Flare is an ActionScript library for creating visualizations that run in the Adobe Flash Player. From basic charts and graphs to complex interactive graphics, the toolkit supports data management, visual encoding, animation, and interaction techniques. Even better, flare features a modular design that lets developers create customized visualization techniques without having to reinvent the wheel.

Prefuse Flare

Social media analysis tools

Facebook

Minilytics by PageLever – PageLever is a full suite of analytics for Facebook, but what they give you here is a mini version to whet your appetite. In a nutshell, it’s free and tells you when the best time to post is, what types of posts generated the most engagement, how many (%) fans are you reaching with your posts, and some basic demographics of who your fans are.

In addition to the Facebook Insights tools, sites like SocialBakers.com can give you an idea of page performance outside the ones you manage.

Twitter

Tweetreach – You search for a url, Twitter name, phrase or hashtag and this app tells you how far it went through the social universe. Great for event tracking with specific hashtags or for marketing promotions with specific links (by using Bit.ly or another URL shortening service).

TwitterCounter – Pretty accurately predicts how many Twitter followers you’ll have within a certain time period. Also tells you where you rank, and lets you compare up to four Twitter handles to see how you stack up against the competition.

Tweetstats  – An oldy but goody that tells you how long a specific Twitter handle has been around, the times of day they do the most tweeting, who they retweet the most, their tweet (word) cloud and their following to follower ratio.

Brand

Brandify – Created by Microsoft, gives you a score (kind of like a credit score) and then gives you recommendations on how to improve your influence score. This is probably one of my favorites because it gives you hard data and recommendations.

Vrank – Is similar to Brandify in that it gives you a score out of 1,000 and measures your brand’s online visibility.

Online I.D. Calculator: By Vizibility, essentially measures the strength of your online reputation by measuring volume and relevance of search results of you online. Takes only a few minutes to run.

Bit.ly – Is known as the URL shortening tool, but its back end analytics allows you to see how many times your link was clicked, helping you understand where your content is being shared (if you use different links for Twitter vs your blog, for example, and how popular your content is.

search.grader.com – by Hubspot allows you to key in your website URL and it grades you and tells you how much your site is worth in terms of traffic, traffic from organic and paid keywords, the number of ranking keywords in the top 20, plus paid search ad campaign values.

(Social Strand Media, The Next Web, ComputerWorld, Net Magazine)

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