Filling the Gap: Open Clip Art Library Provides More than 26,000 Images

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 09, 2010

Would you like some Libre content to go with those free and open source applications? One of the initial challenges that the open source community has had in supplanting proprietary solutions is not just the software itself, but the entire ecosystem that has built up around proprietary software. Case in point: While you can find top-notch free and open source tools to create artful documents, finding clip art and templates that are free is a much bigger challenge.

Luckily for FLOSS enthusiasts everywhere, projects like the Open Clip Art Library (OCAL) are stepping up to fill the gap. A little bit of history. The project started in 2004 to hold freely available clip art. What started out as a modest site with a small collection of clip art has blossomed into a monster-sized collection of goodies.

How much has it blossomed? The OCAL folks recently announced the 2.0 release of the library. Weighing in at more than 26,000 pieces of scalable vector clip art, more than 1,200 artists have dedicated time to help fill a gap in the FLOSS ecosystem. More than 14,000 of those pieces have rolled in over the past year, which is impressive by any metric.

What does a 2.0 release mean, in the context of a clip art library? In this case, it's a couple of things. First it's a recognition of the library's improvements to its hosting framework. The site uses the Aiki Framework, and now sports a new theme and the ability to browse through PNG thumbnail previews. Need to work with the graphics from the site and make changes? Grab the SVG. Need to slap in a bitmap image? Grab the PNG.

Even though the site holds an impressive amount of clip art, there's always more to do. The team has set a goal of 50,000 pieces of clip art by the end of 2010, and are calling for help to support the 2010 Libre Graphics Meeting that will take place from May 27 to May 30 in Brussels. There's also a roadmap for the 2.1 release targeted for April, and geared at finding more ways for people to help with the project.

Though the site's current state is impressive, it'd be great if they succeed in bringing in more contributors. There are a quite a few talented folks in the FLOSS community contributing to various projects, and if the OCAL could tap more of that talent it would do a lot to fill out the library and improve the quality of the offerings. While there's a lot of really good stuff on OCAL, it's not uniformly great. Some of the clip art is not so good, and having better resources and a larger community to work with developing artists might go a long way.

Want a little clip art to spice up your project? Browse the site or just download the entire stash in one go. The full release comes as a compressed package (take your pick of zip file, tarball, or compressed tarball) with all the PNG thumbnails and vector art. If you want to see the latest additions to the library, check out the recent uploads page, which lists all the most recent uploads.