There are people out there who have a very sound, logical way of thinking, and there are those with a more chaotic, layered way of thinking. If you are one of those people that often find themselves scribbling on a piece of paper, trying to lay down thoughts in a visual manner, or if you happen to work often with flowcharts and diagrams, then OmniGraffle is the program for you.
OmniGraffle is a powerful diagramming and drawing program that is very easy to use and yields visually stunning results. The basic premise is simple, use shapes which you can combine with text, colors and styles and connect them with lines to give a visual representation of relationships, connections. You can easily create flow charts, organizational charts, network diagrams, family trees, project processes, office layouts - or anything else that can be represented by symbols and lines. And, unlike other programs that are not designed for this task, OmniGraffle uses magnets to ensure that lines and connections are never broken when moved.
Version 4 offers a host of improvements, new features and a lot of redesigned user interface elements.Inspector Gadgets
For one thing, all of the inspectors that were used in previous versions to change shapes and styles have been rearranged and consolidated into just three. This serves to save a great deal of screen real estate without any loss in functionality. The three inspector windows have tabs for accessing the tens of tools and options they hold and they dock to each other to become one big window if you so wish it. Also, the inspectors can be collapsed becoming nothing more than a thin title bar when you do not need them.New Outline
The outline view has moved to a side drawer which it now shares with the layers. Inside the outline you can add elements to your chart and order them in a hierarchical
manner and OmniGraffle will automatically create the corresponding visual elements, link them and organize them according to the work you are doing in the outline. If you don't need anything fancy you can make a chart about as quickly as you can input the elements and select the visual look that suits you best.
Layers also behave in a more intuitive manner than they did in previous versions, making it much easier to work with them.More Style
Diagram Styles make it easy to format your chart with just a few clicks; each level of the outline can be formatted differently on the fly. This saves you the trouble or formatting after the chart structure is complete because the elements are styled as soon as they are introduced.
Even if you wanted a very specific and customized look to your chart, styles can be easily dragged in part or whole over any other shape. Furthermore, you can at any time look and see how many elements of your graph use a certain style and even select them all in one go.Bezier Curves
One of the most exciting new tools in this version is the Bezier Curve drawing tool. This tool allows you to create highly customized shapes using curves, lines and control points. Also, we are now able to take multiple shapes and perform Boolean operations on them, such as intersection, union and difference.
With a little practice to get used to the tools, it is now possible to create any shape you can imagine.Tables
Another new addition is the ability to create tables. This is a feature long overdue that is finally here. Working with tables is easy enough as they are basically groups of rectangles with a few extra properties. There are limitations though, such as not being able to set individual table cell borders and the inability to merge two table cells. Information form Excel still gets pasted as an image which is a shame since with tables finally here, it would be nice to be able to make the most out of them.Compatibility
On the compatibility side of things, OmniGraffle 4 has gone a long way starting with a new vector PICT export format that makes it easier to copy-paste between OmniGraffle and other applications. Hyperlinks are now supported on export to PDF, as is exporting files with multiple canvases as a single, multiple-page PDF file. EPS export now has a preview image associated with it. Finally, OmniOutliner support has been updated, with options to import multiple column information, numbering, notes, and more.The Good
Lots of new features that were sorely missed before, new and improved interface and work flow, and more compatibility.The Bad
Some things are still clunky, tables for example, and the auto options in the Outline tend to choke the system if you have a lot of elements and keep adding. Although this will not bother the people with fast boxes, those with older Macs might want to turn off the auto features at least until they have inputted all the elements of the graph.The Truth
This newest version of OmniGraffle brings those tools we've all been missing in older versions. If you use this program often enough, the update is more than worth it.
Here are some screenshots, click to enlarge: