Haters criticize Apple’s iPad as a toy. But properly equipped, the iPad becomes an incredibly powerful business device. The Omni Group’s $49 OmniGraffle application is just the tool to maximize the iPad’s capabilities.

The iPad makes it easy to take notes, deliver presentations, check and send email and even create and edit spreadsheets while on the go. Everyone knows that. But drafting complex flowcharts and intricate network diagrams has always proven a little more problematic, especially when seated in a crowded coffee shop or while taking a quick break at a conference. In fact, many users likely need to postpone their inspiration until they can return to an office, where they still depend upon a desktop computer and mouse to draft complex charts. OmniGraffle makes it possible to compose masterful diagrams while out of the office.

How’s it work?

Leveraging the iPad’s multitouch gestures, OmniGraffle enables users to drag different objects and shapes, as well as varying connectors using numerous different styles, to create powerful diagrams that capture and communicate a wide range of processes and information. Using The Omni Group’s diagramming program, iPad operators can create organizational charts, network diagrams, flow charts, freehand wireframe drawings, and more. The application features a wide variety of shapes, including three-dimensional objects, that can be dressed using numerous colors, fills and fonts.

Simple drag-and-drop gestures permit adding new shapes to a drawing and repositioning objects within. Various connectors and stencils help further enhance a diagram. Layering enables further modification and assists in developing such finished files directly on the iPad that no further edits or refinement need be completed on a desktop computer.

How can files be shared?

So you’ve just created a masterpiece or charted a solution to a vexing production process. But the inspiration came while you were relaxing in a coffee shop. No problem.

With the iPad, once a diagram or chart is created using OmniGraffle, several options are available for sharing the file. Files can be exported to email as a Graffle, PDF or PNG file. Drawings can also be exported via iDisk or using WebDAV or iTunes. Users can also choose to print OmniGraffle files or send them to the iPad’s Photos directory.

Why a diagramming tool?

Professionals believing they can muddle through today’s demanding workplace environments using a free version of a drawing or drafting tool need to think again. I’m a big advocate for simplifying myriad complex tasks using simple drawings, as is Dan Roam, who’s written a few best-selling books on the topic. I can think of no better and more approachable (read: easy to learn) drawing tool than OmniGraffle.

While Roam recommends avoiding high-tech tools to create one’s drawings, whenever an iPad is present, the device becomes an excellent facilitator with wonderful potential. I view OmniGraffle as helping unlock not only the device’s capabilities, but mine as well, as I can’t even draw a straight line without an assist.