A powerful vector tool for technical drawing and layouts
OmniGraffle works with vectors rather than pixels, so your drawing stays crisp, however far you scale it up and down. This update – from 6 to 6.1 – sports a revamped interface, new inspectors and styling tools, and support for Visio 2013 files.
Its inspectors can now be floated or broken out into discrete panes, several of which can remain in view at once – which is great if you’re adding pre-defined stencils from one and styling them on another.
The stencils are real time-savers if you’re building a website wireframe or designing software. Where they’re lacking, though, is in space-planning. There are outlines for beds and even grand pianos, but some obvious objects such as showers and tables are conspicuous by their absence.
Each document can handle multiple canvases (pages), each with layers that can grow as required. The layers panel is very well thought out, displaying your document contents as descriptive thumbnails or a grid of naked icons. We prefer the latter, but things can start to get confusing if you’ve placed a lot of text; the descriptions are out for ‘Aa’, in each instance.
The text palette lacks a live font preview and it feels like a retrograde step going back to an unstyled list of typeface names. It maintains your Font Book groups, but the fonts inside them aren’t organised by name the way they are in the overarching All Fonts group, so finding the one you want can take some time if you have a large library.
That’s our only grumble, though. Everything you place on the canvas can be styled independently – with fills, gradients and different stroke types. The fills themselves have Photoshop-like blend modes such as screen and darken, and if you upgrade to Pro ($199) you can blur and pixellate underlying objects.
The organisational chart tools are a highlight and easy to use; selecting a parent node before clicking the tool drops a new offspring onto the canvas where it will be already connected to its parent and ready for repositioning.
The scaling tools are intelligent too, although Adobe Illustrator just edges it. OmniGraffle lets you change the size of an object with multiple corners and curves so you can maintain its existing proportions and avoid distended shapes, but it doesn’t have Illustrator’s nine-slice scaling feature that lets you mark out discrete areas whose proportions should be maintained while others are stretched.
But OmniGraffle is great value at £70 (consider that Illustrator alone costs between £211 and £328 a year, depending on how you choose to pay). Upgrading to OmniGraffle Pro adds in shared styles, a presentation mode, and a wider range of export formats among other features, but for most users, the £70 option will suffice. Nik Rawlinson
At just £70, OmniGraffle is a great value and flexible tool for designing pixelperfect vectors and charts OmniGraffle takes some learning to get the best out of it, but ultimately, the results are worth the effort.
The built-in stencils save time when building app and website wireframes, or planning room layouts.
The organisation/charting tools are simple and automatically build node connections.