10 best (unknown) open source projects

That's right folks, another ten best! But this time I'll wager you're not familiar with any of them, or at best one or two. The free/open source software world is vast and full of excellent applications for all occasions. An interesting trend is the growth of large distributed projects such as OpenTox and AMEE. FOSS presents a natural platform for building large distributed projects because of the low barrier to entry-- open code, open standards, and freely-available robust, high-quality high-performance software.

And now I shall cease nattering, and invite you to enjoy the following best unknown open source software projects.

OpenTox Replaces Animal Testing

The OpenTox project aims to "develop an interoperable predictive toxicology framework which may be used as an enabling platform for the creation of predictive toxicology applications." In other words, using computer modeling instead of animal testing for chemical toxicity testing. Animal testing is cruel, and it is limited: expensive, slow, and not always an accurate predictor of how chemicals will affect humans.

But that's not all OpenTox is for. Funded by the European Union, the goals of the project are ambitious and based on classic open source methodology: develop open software and Web services for testing, reporting, and sharing information, and helping industry to meet the requirements of the EU's REACH law. REACH is Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances; it is a landmark piece of legislation that puts greater responsibility on business to prove safety in materials handling and use, and to encourage replacing hazardous chemicals with safer substances.

In 2010 OpenTox released its first two applications: ToxPredict and ToxCreate. You can play with the protoypes here.

Calibre ebook Library Manager

Calibre is an amazing cross-platform librarian in a box. It's a library manager, an ebook reader, and ebook converter that supports all ebook formats.

Calibre does more than merely make lists of your titles. Multiple copies of the same book in different formats are organized as a single logical book, and your collection is searchable by title, author, publisher, size, date published, date added, and your own custom tags and comments. It can import metadata and book covers from the Internet based on the title, author or ISBN. Calibre can organize your collection by whatever categories you like, download news and format it as an ebook, and it includes a server so you can access your collection from anywhere. (Linux, Mac, Windows)

Scheme Maker Pattern Maker

Scheme Maker is an slick little program for converting photos and other images into cross-stitch and knitting patterns. Knit your enlarged face into a sweater and wear it proudly! It's simple to use, with a useful feature set. You may select parts of images, change the size and dimensions, change cell size, and control stitch density and thread count. Scheme Maker auto-detects colors, which you can edit to your heart's content, changing color values, gamma, and even removing some. (Binary for all 32-bit Windows, Free Pascal and Lazarus source code for everyone else.)

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