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The five best design-related downloads

Free software to help with DTP tasks

Whether you want a free and easy-to-use desktop publishing tool, or you want to put your own stamp on a website or even your PC's desktop, there's some great free tools available through the PC Advisor Downloads section. Here's five of the best.

Vector Clock Designer 2.10

The clock that sits in the Windows Taskbar is functional, but not exactly inspiring. And the desktop gadgets that ship with Vista and Windows 7 aren't much better, either. While desktop clocks are commonplace, finding the right one to match your desktop or suit your personal demands can be tricky.

Vector Clock Designer lets users drag and drop the elements they want, as well as offering the ability to colour them before letting the program take your beautiful design and transform it into a fully working desktop app.

Diagram Designer 1.24

Diagram Designer is a straightforward vector graphics tool for creating flowcharts, UML class diagrams, and assorted other technical illustrations.

The program is very easy to use. To build flow charts, for instance, you simply drag in the boxes you need from the right hand palette, and drop them onto your page. Double-clicking a box allows you to edit its text (the built-in spell checker will catch errors immediately). You're able to drag and drop your preferred style of connector onto the page, too, and this will easily "snap" onto the box. And you can then drag the boxes around and your connectors will reposition accordingly.

Google SketchUp 8.0.4811

Google SketchUp 8 is an easy-to-use 2D sketching and 3D modelling tool, that makes it easy to create models, share them, use them in Google Earth, and more.

If you've tried 3D tools modelling programs before, and been put off by their complexity, SketchUp will feel very different. Not least because the program allows you to directly import models created by other users.

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor v9.5

CoffeCup Free HTML Editor is a powerful text-based web design package.

We say 'text-based' because the program isn't WYSIWYG; you need to buy the full version of the program to gain visual editing. Here you must create or edit the HTML code directly. Which is something of a culture shock if you're used to dragging and dropping elements on a page, but there are some tools to make life easier.

Scribus 1.3.9

Scribus is an open-source desktop publishing tool that's packed with all the layout features you need.

Excellent import features get you started by helping you utilise the content you already have. So, for instance, the program can import PDF documents, OpenOffice Draw, EPS, SVG, PSD and other files.

You can then work on your project, adding frames and tables, inserting images, using vector drawing tools or exploring the many font effects. Colour control includes CMYK and RGB support, spot colours, and ICC colour management.

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