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I'm a long time Omnigraffle user, but have never been able to figure out how to create complex shapes such as some of the default shape styles that show up in the program. It seems like there should be a way to make shapes like the arrow shape (with it's special arrow tip control point) or the "square bracketed box" (for lack of an official formal description), with it's groovy missing line segments. Every time this need comes up, I scour the forums and re-read the (frustrating!) documentation, and never, never find the answer. Is this the holy grail? Why? I don't want to return to Adobe Illustrator, but this is driving me crazy! I need to make a box shape with complex stroke and fill, and then re-use it as a shape style. I need to create an open shape that ALSO has a fill. Am I asking too much? I'm loyal. I'm worthy. Please help!
I too would like an answer to this question.

I've found one way to create an "open shape" which is to draw the path back along itself to the origin so that the shape is actually closed has no internal area. Unfortunately that method cannot create an open shape like the "square bracketed box" (aka "double square brackets") as it only works for a continuous path.

Come on Omni, please explain if these shapes are created with some magic sauce we don't have access to or if there is a trick we could use to create them.

If you need a good reason then think of all the Visio users who switch to OmniGraffle and look in vain for a callouts stencil to rival that of Visio. The reason there isn't one is because we can't create the complex open shapes that are needed for callouts.
Answering my own question, I have a partial answer.

The solution starts by drawing an "open" shape by the line doubling back on itself to create a closed shape with zero internal area. Then group together a number of these shapes into a single shape.

However that new shape does not appear in the shape styles and the shape styles box does not appear when you select that shape, so you can't change it. You can't add to favourite group styles manually either.

Applying union to the two shapes doesn't work as it changes the shapes you started with and you end up with an odd shape.

Last edited by JayDaley; 2011-06-01 at 03:30 PM..
Unfortunately this isn't something that's possible in the user interface of OmniGraffle itself, although it's clear that OmniGraffle supports these kinds of shapes.

One has to create a custom .graffleshape file in order to accomplish this, which is a specialized text format -- There is a lengthy tutorial about doing so here:

That said, we do have an existing feature request in our tracking database for the ability to selectively stroke segments of a shape's outline, and I have added your comments to that entry.
Thanks for the helpful reply. I've read the tutorial now and it seems pretty straightforward so I'll give it a go.
Thanks for the link, pjp. Unfortunately that tutorial doesn't cover making adjustable shapes, like the block arrows. In fact the Adjustable Arrow, for example, doesn't appear in the shapes.graffleshapes file. The adjustable shape name strings do appear in the Graffleshapes Framework binary file, so they seem to be hard coded rather than defined in a text file. I guess that's not surprising. The action of the adjustment handles is unique to each shape; it can only be specified functionally. (Think of the adjustable star: moving one handle in an arc changes the number of points.)

Last edited by john.gersh; 2011-06-03 at 05:38 AM..

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