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Review: OmniGraffle for iPad

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OmniGraffle for iPad is an app I have been itching to review.  I reviewed the desktop version last year, and I was very interested to see how this app translates and performs on an iPad.  OmniGraffle at its core is a diagramming app, but there are so many uses for this I almost hate to classify it in this category.  As you may know, I don’t like getting into techno-babble about specs and super geeky performance numbers, I judge an app by its real world application and usefulness.  With that being said, I have used OmniGraffle for several weeks, using it in a variety of projects such as website layout, planning out a future home network upgrade, and just general diagramming.

If there was ever an app made for touchscreen input, this is it.  Even though it begged my fingers to dive right in, I took some time to read the help areas just to familiarize myself with the controls.  There is not a big learning curve here, but to get the most out of this app, it really helps to get familiar with some of its functions beforehand.  The interface is simply designed, and although it works in either portrait or landscape mode, obviously landscape gives you the best option to work with.

There are about 8 included documents ranging from site wireframe mockups to a chart on how to make the “perfect” latte.  These were also a good way to deconstruct and learn a bit more about the workings of the app.  Once you are ready to create your own document, you have a nice clean canvas to start with.  The first menu popover you might encounter on the upper-left side is the Contents area.  This is where you can manage the layers – yes I said layers, and the layers can also be shared between canvases.

The menu I, and I suspect most others, spent the most time in is the Stencils.  Here you have a wide variety of shapes, connections, colors, designs, etc. that you can simply drag into your document.  From there just use your fingers to manipulate the size and shape to your needs.  If you need to enter text, or add a color fill, it’s all accessible in the Stencils popover.

While the Stencils will satisfy a great majority of user needs, but OmniGraffle also offers a freehand drawing mode.  If you need to draw a line real quick, just tap the screen, hold and draw.  You can also draw completely freehand, or draw the shapes you need.  After your shapes are setup, OmniGraffle can add shadows, fills, and more to your diagram.  There are a ton of options like this, and I never found myself looking for anything else as it all seemed to be there.

Once your document is done, you have a couple of options in order to share your work with others.  You can send via e-mail, send it as a PDF via e-mail, or copy as a photo which can also be added to your iPad’s photo gallery.

The only real complaint I have is that I find myself using OmniGraffle on the iPad, way more than I do on my Mac desktop.  In all seriousness that is not a bad thing at all, and it shows how powerful apps like this can be on the iPad.  Website designers will want this for design mockups, software devs and project managers will want this for its easy diagramming, and everyone else will want this for all the other uses in between.  The price for this app is $49.99, which might shy away some buyers, but as with many things, you get what you pay for, and OmniGraffle is worth every penny of that.  OmniGraffle for iPad gets a 5 out of 5 from me!

Rating: ★★★★★


OmniGraffle (iTunes link)

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