Each update to The Omni Group’s OmniGraffle improves the chart-drawing application by leaps and bounds. And the recently released OmniGraffle 3.0.1 Professional is the picture of a specialty program hitting its stride. (OmniGraffle has also released a standard version 3.0.1, which has many of the same features.)
When we last took
; August 2002) out for a stroll, we stumbled once or twice in our attempts to make efficient use of the program. We were happy to see this version’s improved Help menu — because we did need a bit of guidance. OmniGraffle still has a few quirks: for example, clicking on a palette doesn’t necessarily activate the tool associated with it, as you might expect. And once again, the Auto Layout tool (which organizes your chart in a way that “makes sense” to the program) made hash of some test charts. This tool needs some controls.
But, wow, does version 3.0.1 have some nice design features: adjustable guides, drag-and-drop image import, complete control over colors and shapes, support for full transparency, automatic antialiasing, and just about anything else you could possibly need to create a very pretty chart or diagram. There is something of an ease-of-use trade-off here: one look at the long list of OmniGraffle’s mouseless-editing key commands reminded us how much we loved
Inspiration ‘s super-fast RapidFire feature for quick brainstorming (
; March 2003).
The Professional version has some features that, for many people, will justify its price: a rudimentary presentation mode lets you link multiple OmniGraffle canvases together and run them as a slide show. And OmniGraffle Professional files are compatible with Visio 2002 files. (They’re also exportable in a wide variety of formats.)
Macworld’s Buying Advice
OmniGraffle 3.0.1 Professional will occasionally frustrate users who need to, say, whip out a quick organizational chart for a last-minute meeting. But with design tools that rival those of many illustration programs — and some one-of-a-kind chart-making tools — this app is marching boldly into the future of diagramming in OS X.