OmniGraffle is used to create graphics and visuals. The application features several design tools, along with a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface and a notes function that annotate and create specification documentation for prototypes and mockups. While OmniGraffle can produce graphics and visuals, it is often used as a tool to create content maps, screen flows, and wire frames. Overall: OmniGraffle is marketed largely as an OS X native alternative to Visio, but it shines as a separate product in its own right, and a perfect accompaniment to Adobe CS for technical drawing.It's fine for all those Visio-ish things, org charts and information maps and whatever else, but I mostly use it for circuit diagrams and other 2-D technical drawings, and it works very well for.
|Developer(s)||The Omni Group|
|Initial release||May 7, 2001; 19 years ago|
|Operating system||macOS, iOS|
OmniGraffle is a diagramming and digital illustration application for macOS and iOS created by The Omni Group.
OmniGraffle is used to create graphics and visuals. The application features several design tools, along with a drag-and-dropWYSIWYG interface and a notes function that annotate and create specification documentation for prototypes and mockups.
While OmniGraffle can produce graphics and visuals, it is often used as a tool to create content maps, screen flows, and wire frames. Visuals are often referred to as 'graffles.'
Although OmniGraffle is an industry tool, it lacks interactivity capabilities and is not easily used for team collaboration due to its limitations as a desktop and tablet application.
Application resources and tools
OmniGraffle design tools include canvases, templates, stencils, vector drawing, and grid guides. Other features include auto layout and document management.
Canvases are spaces where users can create shapes. Attributes to creating a canvas include canvas name, sizing options, grid and dimension selections, and diagram layout. Users may create and also share canvases and layers, with automatic updates available. This gives users the option to create layers once, toggle layers to appear on desired canvases, and update automatically if changes occur.
Templates are OmniGraffle application resources. Template documents can be manipulated by users for their purposes. Some sample templates are preloaded and available for users. Users may also create, edit, and save templates for creating consistent graffles.
Stencils are OmniGraffle application resources. Stencils are clip art files that serve as elements, such as icons or buttons, for OmniGraffle documents. A wide variety of sample stencils are pre-loaded and available for immediate use. Users can also create, share, download, and preview stencils online as well through OmniGraffle's Stenciltown or other stencil libraries, such as Graffletopia.
Because OmniGraffle visuals are vector-based, visuals are composed of mathematical representations of pixels. Rather than creating free-hand drawn work, users utilize vectors to create these visuals. To minimize user-end visual creation, vector drawing also allows for all graphic images to be recreated.
Smart Guides is a tool that can be turned on or off. While moving objects around the canvas, Smart Guides provides users with highlighted grid lines to easily align objects on the canvas. It also provides additional ease for users with a dynamic snap-to-grid functionality for accurately snapping objects into alignment around the canvas.
Other design features in the latest versions of OmniGraffle include artistic fill and stroke styles, text and shape scalability, path-following text, shape combinations, diagram styling, auto layout features for treemapping, and documentation management.
Import and export
OmniGraffle supports filesharing and Visio support in its Pro distribution. All users can export their graffles to JPEG, BMP, EPS, GIF, HTML Images, SVG, Template, Stencil, PNG, OO3, TIFF, and PDF. Additionally, OmniGraffle Pro users can import dot/graphviz, Visio, SVG, PDF, Photoshop with layers, and Xcode.
In many respects, OmniGraffle is similar to Microsoft Visio. The Pro version of OmniGraffle can both import and export Visio files created using Visio's XML export function. However, Omnigraffle doesn't provide CAD integration like Visio, since it lacks some features such as DWG or DXF (Autodesk file formats), import/export functions, among others. Also it is important to notice that layers cannot be shared among some versions of Visio and OmniGraffle.
Diagrams such as concept maps or mind maps, flowcharts and wire frames can also be drawn with other applications: see Comparison of vector graphics editors.
- ^'Happy birthday, OmniGraffle!'. The Omni Group.
- ^'OmniGraffle Release Notes'. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- ^'OmniGraffle Release Notes'. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- ^'OmniGraffle 3.0 Brings the Power of Its macOS Counterpart to iOS'. MacStories. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- ^ abc'OmniGraffle - diagramming and graphic design for Mac, iPhone, and iPad - The Omni Group'. omnigroup.com.
- ^'A Beginner's Guide to Wireframing in Omnigraffle'. Web Design Tuts+.
- ^'Stenciltown'. omnigroup.com.
- ^'Awesome OmniGraffle stencils - Graffletopia'. graffletopia.com.
- ^'OmniGraffle - diagramming and graphic design for Mac, iPhone, and iPad - The Omni Group'. omnigroup.com.
- ^'Be smart and use Smart Guides - Veerle's blog'. duoh.com.
- ^'OmniGraffle and Photoshop: One Great Taste and One Acceptable Taste that Taste Great Together'. omnigroup.com.
The potential shown by The Omni Group’s OmniGraffle 1.0 (Reviews, October 2001) is fulfilled in the more mature OmniGraffle 2.0.2. This version of the OS X-native chart-creation program includes enhancements such as the ability to implement AppleScripts and incorporate hyperlinks in charts. There are also several cool new design tools.
OmniGraffle is generally reliable–though one inexplicable crash served as a reminder to save work often–and it was fairly easy to use, once we got the hang of its unique interface. The printed manual walks you through the creation of a simple diagram and gets you acquainted with OmniGraffle’s tools, panels, and palettes. Via this interface, you can generate and color shapes, insert text, connect objects, and otherwise structure your chart.
For organizational pros and developers, OmniGraffle’s more-advanced new features include support for Project Builder files. The comprehensive Selection panel gives you myriad fine-tuning options, and you can export finished charts in many standard formats, such as JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and PDF.
As in version 1.0, the Auto Layout tool, which you can use to reorganize a chart in a way that “makes sense” to the program, often had us scurrying for the undo command. Complex hierarchical charts aren’t served well by this tool–it can misinterpret parent-child relationships and randomize a chart’s order.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you have a diagram to draw in OS X, OmniGraffle 2.0.2 is for you. You may have to invest some time in learning the program, but you’ll be more than compensated by its organizational wizardry.