capsule review

OmniGraffle 1.0

Flowcharting programs are some people's bread and butter. But for most, they're side-dish apps used only occasionally to redraw an org chart or create a technical illustration. For such users, the simple, OS X-native OmniGraffle 1.0.1 may be an alternative to costlier illustration programs.

OmniGraffle gives you all the tools you need to create, modify, and export basic hierarchical charts and nonlinear diagrams. Although OmniGraffle's tool set is fundamentally complete, some features are better than others: the Selection panel offers comprehensive fine-tuning options, for example, while the Line palette is poorly organized. The interface is attractive but often unintuitive, and the Help menu is inadequate (it barely touches on the Auto Layout feature, a somewhat dangerous tool that, when applied incorrectly or to the wrong type of chart, can make a mess of your hard work). Preconnected chart items and templates are also noticeably absent.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Though heartier flowcharting applications, such as the $125 ConceptDraw (4.0 mice; www.macworld.com/2001/03/16/reviews/concept.html ), cost only a little more, OmniGraffle 1.0.1 is a usable and useful (and Mac OS Xnative) program. But those who regularly create highly complex charts will run up against its significant limitations. (The company says it will fix some problems in an update, which should be available by the time you read this.)

Order Up: Used correctly, OmniGraffle's Auto Layout tool can help you bring order to chaos.
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