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I am using OmniGraffle 5.1.1 to draw diagrams pertaining to physics apparatus and concepts (for a book I am writing) and have a few questions; any help would be much appreciated. I am moving from an expensive CAD program which has a superb user interface (when I retired I found that I was no longer entitled to use the version of the program which i purchased on a grant and I can't afford to purchase a commercial copy). So far, I am very pleased with OG as a potential replacement for the CAD program (for 2D line drawings) - it requires a different approach and is actually fun to use.

The magnet philosophy is a little puzzling. I suppose magnets are placed on shapes and only "attract" lines drawn with the line tool. I have been creating a new stencil for optical and electronic components (I have searched Graffletopia and haven't found everything I need). Some of the parts have lines which form, for example, the leads for a photodiode. I find that I *cannot* connect a line *to* a magnet on my part but *can* connect the line *from* my part. In general, lines generated by the line tool don't seem to behave like shapes so far as connections are concerned. Is there a way to get a shape which is also a line?

Another problem I have with magnets is that shapes don't seem to connect directly to other shapes using magnets (this is a little unphysical...) . Is there any way around this?

I am occasionally getting persistent redraw artifacts when I rotate or resize objects, particularly composite shapes (made by grouping). Is there a way to refresh the screen to get rid of these? (I am on OS X 10.5.6 on a Powerbook G4).

Finally, I am using the standard version of OG. I find that the one feature I miss terribly is favorites and I might need to buy the pro version to get these. I often use a number of tools repeatedly: the circle, arc, rectangle and parallelogram tools in the shape menu and the straight and orthogonal lines in the line tools. Is there a way to quickly access these using the standard version of OG?

Thanks in advance and sorry for the length of my request.


Warren Nagourney
I also use OG to make physics-related diagrams, and I find magnets very frustrating. They never seem quite designed to work the way I want them to. I've gotten to the point where I just ignore magnets completely, and turn off "Allow connections" in the inspectors. So I can't really help with that.

But I can tell you how to make new shapes. I've made a lot of new shapes---parabolas, sine/cosine parts, various circuit parts (resistors, inductors, etc.) There's a tutorial here. It would be pretty simple to make a shape that was just a line. Actually, now that I look at OG, I think there's already a shape that's a line; it's in the inspector right after the jigsaw piece and the delete shape. I don't think that's one that I made myself ...

If you want an example of making a new shape, I posted one in this thread a couple days ago.

Last edited by Chris; 2009-02-16 at 09:40 PM..
Thanks, Chris, for the link to the shape creation posting. I vaguely remember this from when I first dabbled with OG in 2002 or so. It sounds as though it would be fairly easy to make a shape out of a line, with magnets at the ends and middle.

I don't understand how one can effectively use OG without magnets. All CAD programs have "snap" features which allow one to precisely connect various parts together. Doing it by eye sounds to me like an exercise in frustration (and headache). The "snap" feature in OG uses magnets - they also have the nice feature of preserving connections when parts are moved around, which is something which is not easily done in other CAD programs.

You can in fact connect a line directly to a magnet, and that connection point will persist at the magnet's location, when connecting the line to the shape the entire shape will "throb" with a highlight color, when connecting directly to the magnet, the magnet will throb, it can be hard to see, however.
"Vroom! Vroom!!"
Thanks, Joel.

Yes, I have had no problem seeing the throbbing magnets. I just tried it and it worked fine - I guess that when I tried it earlier, the magnet must have been either non-existent or defective in some way. By the way, I do notice that when you delete a line, you also often delete a shape connected to it even if the shape is not selected.

Now that I have the attention of an Omni guru (if you will excuse me referring to you in this way...), do you have any comments on my other issues: the redraw artifacts, the way to directly connect shapes using magnets and the way to quickly access tools without using "favorites" (not available in the non-pro version)?

Thanks again.


Last edited by warrenn; 2009-02-17 at 11:39 AM..
So far as redraw artifacts go, I'd recommend sending in some feedback to with screenshots, etc. so we can take a direct look at the issue.

Automatically connecting directly to magnets is an intriguing idea, I shall file a feature request for it in our tracking database, I think if we were to implement it there'd be a nice spot for the setting in the Connections Inspector.

Lastly, when using the standard version of OmniGraffle, those styles that are present in the Stencil Window (if it's showing) will propagate to the Shape Tool, so you could set up a stencil with your "favorite" styles and so long as the Stencil Window is showing they'll show up in the tool's drop-down menu.
"Vroom! Vroom!!"
Does this include line styles? How do I include line styles in a stencil window?


Just make sure that a line with a style is in your stencil, it will show up in the Line Tool's drop-down as well.
"Vroom! Vroom!!"
Great, thanks! It works fine. Why didn't I think of that?


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