The only Windows-based application I missed, after switching to an OS X-powered laptop in 2005, was Microsoft Visio. Thankfully, The Omni Group's OmniGraffle program filled the void. OmniGraffle excels at building diagrams, flow charts, wire frames, technical documents, user interactions and user experience graphics on Macs and even iPads.
In keeping with Apple's simplicity philosophy, the "graffling" software enables users to construct complex and elaborate diagrams by combining the power of simple elements — namely, canvases, layers, shapes, lines, images, text, and fonts.
Numerous stencils and templates are included as well:
- Templates save formatting time by presenting ready-to-use options for iOS and Mac app icons, iOS screens, Mac toolbars, floor plans, traditional document pages (both metric and Imperial), and various backgrounds
- Stencils present preformatted resources for generating maps, circuit diagrams, flow charts, plumbing fixtures, appliances, furniture, walls, and window drawings
The app works equally well, whether users are creating simple mockups and drafts or fine-tuning final presentation materials. Thanks to the integrated OmniPresence feature, synchronizing Graffle documents across multiple devices is easy, too.
OmniGraffle version 6, released in the fall of 2013, possesses numerous improvements. The interface and icons are updated and feature a cleaner, fresher look that mimic some of the changes many users associate with iOS 7. The application works better in full-screen mode and better utilizes high-resolution displays, a task that comes in handy when prepping web pages and elements.
Canvases and layers now live in a single sidebar, providing a better view of the document being created. The new guide inspector also simplifies managing horizontal and vertical guides. Layers are easy to share across multiple canvases — and canvases can be exported directly to Photoshop, with layers included.
The inspector sidebar automatically changes to present relevant tabs based on the object selected. Shapes are easier to work with, too, and font and stroke scaling are now included. Shapes can be combined, even tweaked for size and shape, without having to recreate them. Yet another improvement is the resource browser, which enables users to customize the many available stencils and templates.
Business users accustomed to purchasing, managing, and updating software applications using the Apple App Store will be pleased to find OmniGraffle 6 is available for $99.99 (USD) within the store itself. Businesses no longer need to purchase the software outside the App Store or directly from the manufacturer, which makes it easier to manage software procurement and track licensing.
Diehard fans can keep track of version updates, special pricing promotions, and time-saving tips by visiting the manufacturer's blog. That's just one more reason, following years of use and factoring the latest improvements, why it's clear that OmniGraffle 6 sets the diagramming software standard on OS X and iOS platforms.
Do you use OmniGraffle? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.