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Chapter 1. Pulling Together Tools and Ma... > Researching software before you buy

Researching software before you buy

Much of the professional‐grade software we overview in this section doesn't come cheap. Before you plunk down your hard‐earned cash for a piece of software, do a little research on it. You have several avenues to find out about software, including

  • Trial versions: Trial versions of software allow you to test‐drive a package before you buy it. Often, some features are disabled because the purpose of the software is to let you try it, not to give you free access to it. Trial software generally has a time limit (two weeks or a month), after which the software ceases to function. If you're unsure about whether a piece of software will do what you want it to, look for a trial version.

  • People you know: Ask around to see if anyone you know is using the software. That way, you can get some firsthand advice about what the software can do for you.

  • User groups: Research on the Internet to see if any Web design or software‐specific user groups are in your area. A couple of hours at a meeting can get you a lot more information than you could find on your own in several hours of surfing the Web.

  • Developers' sites: When you read about software, make sure you read Developer or Community sections of the Web sites in addition to the marketing sections of the sites. It seems that all software boasts of being full featured, professional grade, and easy to learn/use — make sure that their idea of what those things mean match with the reality of your needs before you make the leap. Communities and developer sites can give you a much clearer picture of what it's like to work with the software on a daily basis.

    Something that's easy to use for a seasoned professional can be a bit more daunting for individuals just starting out. Don't let that stop you; just be aware that the easier the software, the fewer the features, the quicker you outgrow it.


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