Review: Omnigraffle

Omnigraffle is a great app for making simple flow and structure diagrams, which look good in presentations n’ such. It’s got some rather nice features for laying stuff out and some pretty nifty diagramming tools, but there’s one thing that really sets it apart. It’s a mindmapping tool, and a fantastic one at that.

I heard about this listening to a Macbreak podcast. Merlin pointed out that Omnigraffle has a robust little outliner attached to it, which also functions well with Omni group’s Omnioutliner (which is worth a look atoo, and the subject of a forthcoming review).

What’s an outliner, I hear you cry? It’s a great little tool for making notes and writing stuff quickly and effectively, due to it’s understanding of keystrokes. Enter adds a new line to an outline, and tab will move it in or out, making it the child or sibling of an item above it, making it a great system for categorizing data.

With Omnigraffle you get the best of both worlds – drop in a line, tab it in or out and the mindmap in the main pane will reflect your changes, keeping everything spaced and legible with minimal fuss. It’s the best way to add data to a mindmap I’ve found so far – outlines are great for data entry, but I prefer mindmaps for data visualization.

Those diagramming tools are great for projects as well – drag and drop items into the main pane, drop some arrows in and stick them where you want to go. It’ll maintain the arrows if you move items around, they’re all magnetic. Also, these neat little layout gubbins appear when spacings are equal, so you can get your maps really precise.

Omnigraffle is $79.95 for the standard edition and $149.95 for the Pro at the Omni store. Take a look at the Pro edition if you need advanced presentation features and document management, but I’m happy rocking with Standard for now. There’s also a very fairly priced educational store, offering Standard for just $48 and Pro for $90. Might seem pricey on the face of it, but it’s an incredible deal when you consider what you can do with this software.

Oh, and it’s shareware – if you’re not sure, you can download and use it for as long as you want with the limitation that you only use twenty items. Which is the best kind of shareware.

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