What would you say would be the best, simplest way to share images and design source files online that can be freely downloaded and printed, and so people can upload their own files?

We would like to create a section on our activist community FB page and website in order to share with everyone images and files ready for printing panflets, brochures, t-shirts, stickers, etc. Let's say we have some cool slogans for t-shirts, so we would like to show them on a gallery, and offer for download the original design files needed for a print shop to create the t-shirts. And the same thing for all other kinds of media. We want to enable anyone to be able to just download the files for free, and easily create printed materials with them. But besides offering this hybrid between picture gallery and downloads manager, we would also like to make it very easy for anyone to upload and share their own files with the community, to make it a true collaboration initiative, be it that they get posted automatically, or that we first review and approve all uploads.

Cafepress or Spreadshirt let you upload your design and sell your own merchandise. We need something similar, but where people can then download working files for making quality printings and materials.

What apps, tools, services or methods are out there with which you think this could be best done?? We have some ideas, but we would like to hear some more!!

  • 3
    Hi Dave, welcome to the site! You might get a good answer here since what you're asking for is something a designer wanting to freely distribute source files might be interested in or know about - but that's not very common, and since this is arguably more about web platforms than graphic design itself it's possible we're not the best people to ask. If you don't get a good answer here, you could maybe try webmasters.stackexchange.com so long as you're clear about the criteria you're looking for. Nov 17, 2012 at 23:07
  • ...or, webapps.stackexchange.com if what you're looking for is an existing service you can use (rather than a platform you build on and develop yourself). Nov 17, 2012 at 23:13
  • Thanks, I had actually already posted the question to those boards, too.
    – Dave
    Nov 18, 2012 at 19:05
  • 1
    When you say "activist" I think "has enemies." Moderation is going to be extremely important, not just for content, but also (and especially) for rights management. Hate to sound conspiracy minded, but it would be pretty easy to upload unlicensed/copywritten material as anon and then bring a lawsuit against the organization. Burying small organizations under litigation is a primary tactic.
    – horatio
    Nov 20, 2012 at 19:53
  • Quality will frankly suck. Everyone out there with pirated software will be looking to get in on things if there's even 1 penny to be made. Even 50% of actual designers working today can't create files in a solid, technical manner.
    – Scott
    Nov 20, 2012 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


I have not seen it mentioned and you also said community so my answer would lead more to a forum based choice instead of a CMS. CMS may be a better solution in regards to a preexisting WordPress site with the installation of BuddyPress/bbpress but I have not had any experience with attachments for it.

A free solution also in regards to a community would be the open source forum, phpbb. Their community is great and I have used them for several projects. I know first hand you can easily allow attachement, restrict who can view what, and implement an Ajax chatroom. Sections of the site can be restricted by, IP, password, and group privileges. If you choose the forum route I would suggest running a subdomain to the forum.

If you are wanting something with a warranty I would suggest vbulletin if you choose not to manage, support, or worry about any backend and they can install it for you.

EDIT: I had some time so I wanted to add more for ya on the features of phpbb

here is a few screenshots of what image management can be done within phpbb. enter image description here

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As mentioned in the comments, you will probably get better answers in a different Q&A, and I can't really think of any open project that does what you need (although I am sure there are good ones). In the meantime, these might be of help:

Minus: Desktop client that works as both an uploader and a remote file manager. The advantage is that you can actually see the images/files in a gallery.

Google Drive: A shared directory with all the files

DeviantArt groups: Different users uploading files, connected by a group, or one account containing all of them. Advantage: Lets you add a JPG for the 'preview' and upload the original file (pdf, psd, zip, whatever).

CMS: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal or similar. All of them quite easy to install and set up. You will need to add a plugin/widget that allows registered users to upload articles (image + file). This is probably the best option, because different users can have different access levels. Just an example of a Joomla plugin that seems to do that: Briefcase factory.


Use dropbox.com and share the password and login with everyone.

  • I hope that was meant jokingly! Never do this in real!
    – Mensch
    Feb 14, 2013 at 13:24

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