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Now don't get me wrong, OmniGraffle is a great product and I love it, but it's not perfect, and there are a couple of things in it that sometimes make me bang my head on my desk...

1. Cannot create custom magnets on grid snap points. I do complex diagrams and often have boxes with lots of magnets. For neatness, I'd like to keep connectors on the grid but it's hard to do when I cannot align custom magnets to the grid. Instead I'm reduced to zooming in to 800% and getting as close as I can and praying that the connection line wont stray too far off vertical/horizontal to show a jagged line.

2. Switching Layers is Odd. This one KEEPS biting me. When I click on a layer icon the layer highlights, but of course this does NOT change the drawing layer (you must click on the pencil for that). It's far too easy to miss that pencil and just click the layer, and only after 15-20 minutes work do you notice all your work is in the WRONG layer (head on desk). In fact, i'm not even sure what the point of highlighting a layer icon means. What functionality depends on which layer is highlighted (regardless of where the pencil icon is)?

3. The Battle of Snaps. The snap/size to center and edges of other objects is really nice MOST of the time, but as a drawing gets crowded, it seems that every slight movement of an object hits against some snap or other. In these cases, it's nearly impossible just to drop something down that snaps to the grid, not other objects. Yes I can snap to grid afterwards, but it would be nice to have a key I could hold down (or a button in the UI) to ignore all that smart snapping and just go to the grid.

4. Delete magnets. I *always* forget how to do this when I've been away from OG for a while, and it's not really very intuitive (how would you guess to hold down Option and Click) and not very easy to find in online help either. Why can't I just select the magnet and hit the delete key?

--Tim
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hill View Post
4. Delete magnets. I *always* forget how to do this when I've been away from OG for a while, and it's not really very intuitive (how would you guess to hold down Option and Click) and not very easy to find in online help either. Why can't I just select the magnet and hit the delete key?
I typed 'delete magnet' into the help function, and the first help topic result returned was Adding and adjusting connections with the Magnet tool which describes how to move, create, and delete magnets in its final paragraph. Seems pretty straightforward to me, but maybe there's some other obvious search I might have done that wouldn't have such a happy result; I think they can jigger the help system to head to that page if you tell them what your search that ought to lead you there but doesn't is...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hill View Post
1. Cannot create custom magnets on grid snap points. I do complex diagrams and often have boxes with lots of magnets. For neatness, I'd like to keep connectors on the grid but it's hard to do when I cannot align custom magnets to the grid. Instead I'm reduced to zooming in to 800% and getting as close as I can and praying that the connection line wont stray too far off vertical/horizontal to show a jagged line.
Here's what I do to solve this problem.

I don't put magnets on my object. Instead I make little squares that are two grid units on a side. I turn off fill, strokes, and shadow on the boxes so they are invisible. Then I give them magnets, usually north/south or east/west. Then I stick the squares around the edge on my main object where I want edges to attach. Then I group all the invisible squares with my object.

Now, when I drag edges to my grouped object the magnets on the invisible squares will highlight. I then drop the connection down in the right place.

One variant on this is to put text in the squares. They become rectangles of course. This lets me label connections, which I often need to do.

I hope this helps,

-Pete
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hill View Post
1. Cannot create custom magnets on grid snap points. I do complex diagrams and often have boxes with lots of magnets. For neatness, I'd like to keep connectors on the grid ...
Man after my own heart! I do the same. I create complex technical diagrams as well; standard grid; standard shapes; magnets in predictable locations; no jagged lines. Yes, that is very much a requirement, especially when you want the midpoints of connecting lines to enjoy nice even placement.

Quote:
... but it's hard to do when I cannot align custom magnets to the grid. Instead I'm reduced to zooming in to 800% and getting as close as I can and praying that the connection line wont stray too far off vertical/horizontal to show a jagged line.
I know exactly what you mean.

1 I have experienced that issue, but not enough to complain about it; for me generally, I have no problem placing magnets on Shapes, on the Grid lines. It also Snaps to other Magnets in the Shape, and to mid-points and quarter-points (which are not on the Grid). In fact, I have to use ⌃drag to force it to ignore the Grid or to ignore those automatic Snap-points. Invariably, my magnification is 150%, and I do not need to go to 400 or 800% to accomplish that task.

2 Right now both ⌥click and ⇧click (or drag) do the same thing: delete magnet. AFAIC, keeping the Apple Standard, which promotes intuitive interaction, and consistency between applications, the ⇧click or drag should SnapToGrid (and the ⌥click or ⌥drag should remain unchanged). You can send Omni a Help/SendFeedback message (I just did).

3 Jagged Lines. I find that (after you have finished drawing Shapes, connecting lines, and placed the Shapes on the canvas in the desired locations), when a line or two is jagged, for the above reasons, if you use the Magnet Tool, and just start adjusting the offending magnet, it snaps into the correct Grid location. I think that is because I am using a Grid fairly strictly, and OG's automatic operation relating to SnapToGrid is quite sensible: it corrects the one out-of-alignment element rather than the many in-alignment elements. But note, this is afterwards; not when you are in the Shape without a context, trying to change its magnets, without relating to any other Shape.

4 You may not be aware, the Option key can be used to make fine distinctions. To move a Shape or Line one Grid increment, select it and then ← or ↑ or → or ↓, that bit is easy, right ? Ok, to move a Shape or Line just a tiny bit (pixel?) select it and then ⌥← or ⌥↑ or ⌥→ or ⌥↓ (depends on the magnification: 8 moves equals 0.2cm or one of my Grid increments at 150%). Anyway, the point is, when you have a finished diagram with one jagged line, it is easy enough to adjust the offending Shape (either select and AlignToGrid or Option-move).

Quote:
2. Switching Layers is Odd. This one KEEPS biting me. When I click on a layer icon the layer highlights, but of course this does NOT change the drawing layer (you must click on the pencil for that). It's far too easy to miss that pencil and just click the layer, and only after 15-20 minutes work do you notice all your work is in the WRONG layer (head on desk). In fact, i'm not even sure what the point of highlighting a layer icon means. What functionality depends on which layer is highlighted (regardless of where the pencil icon is)?
The distinction between choosing a Layer; and within that, Pencil or Selection, works correctly, and within the Apple Standard, and has more uses (makes correct distinctions) that will take too long to explain here. I often use many Layers, and I certainly do not want the behaviour (distinctions) changed. If you wish to understand the issues better, Place your Pencil in one Layer, Select a few Shapes in another Layer, and look at what Actions can be performed (and vice versa).

Maybe you are always going to Draw (implying Pencil) when you choose a Layer, but that is hardly true for everyone, especially those who wish to make more distinctions than you do. I would suggest, you need to train yourself to select not just the Layer in general, but what you want to do in the Layer when you get there (draw; choose as target for paste; select for cut/copy ... and whether you want the layer that you were drawing on preserved, for when you get back to it and continue drawing). OG, in compliance with the Apple Standard, maintains a context beautifully.

Last, after your 15-20 mins drawing, and the subsequent realisation that the new Shapes are in the wrong layer, it is no big deal to:
select them (this step can be skipped if it is only one Shape, as it is already selected)
select the correct layer to Draw in (Pencil)
MoveSelectionToLayer
You may need to familiarise yourself with the Action Tool at the bottom of the Canvas Drawer.

Quote:
3. The Battle of Snaps. The snap/size to center and edges of other objects is really nice MOST of the time, but as a drawing gets crowded, it seems that every slight movement of an object hits against some snap or other. In these cases, it's nearly impossible just to drop something down that snaps to the grid, not other objects. Yes I can snap to grid afterwards, but it would be nice to have a key I could hold down (or a button in the UI) to ignore all that smart snapping and just go to the grid.
This point may be worth some discussion, to understand the differences, because I do not have that problem. When I drag a shape from the stencil, it Snaps to the Grid, always (I have to do something extra only when I need to align it with Shapes that are not aligned with the Grid). Have a look at this post. Are your other Shapes SnappedToGrid ?
Chances are they are not (if all shapes are SnappedToGrid, and the new Shape is Aligned to other Shapes, then it must be SnappedToGrid)
if you want precision, you can't "snap/size to center and edges", you need to choose one xor the other, exclusively. It does not work to have some Shapes Aligned by Centre and the rest of them Aligned by Edge. I use Align Edge to Grid only.
Probably most important (and this one is nothing to do with OG, I had to figure this out 26 years ago, with good old MacDraw) for precise drawings, is that the dimensions of your Shapes must be evenly divisible by 2. On a Grid with 0.2cm increments, a 2.2 x 1.0 cm Shape does not reasonably align to anything else (Grid or other Shape; Align Centre is shifted vis-a-vis Align Edge), even though it appears to align with the grid. Eg. the mid-point on the X-axis is 1.1cm, which is odd. It needs to be 2.0 or 2.4 wide, and 0.8 or 1.2 high, in order to integrate with other thoughtfully created Shapes. If you use standard symbols or stencils, this has already been done for you; if you are creating your own symbols, you need to create them with this knowledge in mind, just once.
that issue may have a bearing on your magnet problem as well (odd mid-points will not be aligned with the Grid).
Try holding the ⇧ key down, during the drag (not before you select the Shape, after you select it, during the drag).

(From a production and aesthetic perspective, it is not a good idea to crowd a diagram; white space is your friend, and lends significant meaning to a diagram, when used consciously.)

Quote:
4. Delete magnets. I *always* forget how to do this when I've been away from OG for a while, and it's not really very intuitive (how would you guess to hold down Option and Click) and not very easy to find in online help either. Why can't I just select the magnet and hit the delete key?
I suppose you could.

But actually, it is intuitive, and consistent with the Apple Standard. It may help for you to understand that the Option key is a modifer to whatever other key you enter, or mouse operation you are performing. In fact, to do anything slightly removed from the default operation of any Tool, functions which are already built into the product, you need the Optional operation. Look for the Option key modifying various operations in OG, as well as in other applications that comply with the Apple Standard (which of course excludes anything from MS which has not complied with it, in any release, since 1984).

Sorry about the long post.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandbender View Post
I don't put magnets on my object. Instead I make little squares that are two grid units on a side. I turn off fill, strokes, and shadow on the boxes so they are invisible. Then I give them magnets, usually north/south or east/west. Then I stick the squares around the edge on my main object where I want edges to attach. Then I group all the invisible squares with my object.
That is an awful lot of manual labour, not necessary, the result of which is, what OG will do without that labour. It may help to learn the product, and what it is capable of doing, and thus avoid the manual labour. I suggest you play with and get to know:
set magnets using the available drop-down list
move/add/delete magnets on the one shape (custom magnets)
use the ⇧ ⌥ ⌘ ⌃ modifiers and learn what they do
use each Tool in single-use and multi-use mode
allow connections to grouped object vs components

Quote:
This lets me label connections, which I often need to do.
That is a different point. OG handles labels for llines quite nicely, with many variations. If you post your problem (that causes you to use additional rectangles for labels instead of ordinary OG labels), maybe someone can help.

While it is true that OG is simple and intuitive, and anyone can use it effectively in a short time, it is also true (about any product actually, MacDraw, FlowCharter, OG) that the more you learn the product, the more efficient (avoid manual labour) you can be.

Last edited by DerekAsirvadem; 2010-10-17 at 07:28 PM..
 
Wow, thanks to everyone for getting back to me in this. Some great suggestions and ones I will try out.

Yes, I confess I'm not a power user, but i'm not a casual hacker either. As a result i'm kind of stuck in the middle and trying to remember to hold a magic key combo down to do just what I need isn't that intuitive (side rant: imho this is one area where OS X is weak, it still relies far too many magic combo keys).

However I'll investigate further, but in my defense I HAVE spent some time carefully reading the online help, and looking for stuff like snapping magnets to the grid, but it's pretty buried.

Anyway as I said I'm a great fan of OG and these were annoyances more than "omg this sucks" nonsense. Thanks again for all the suggestions folks, I'll have fun trying them out.

--Tim
 
ok, yes I've studied all this, and I still dont see how to snap a magnet to the grid. If I select the magnet and right-click and choose snap to grid OG snaps the object containing the magnet to the grid, but NOT the magnet itself.

Can ANYONE tell me if its possible to snap a magnet to the grid?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hill View Post
I still dont see how to snap a magnet to the grid. If I select the magnet and right-click and choose snap to grid OG snaps the object containing the magnet to the grid, but NOT the magnet itself.
I understood all that. I never suggested ⌥ or ⌃ modifiers for that purpose (I did for others).
Quote:
Can ANYONE tell me if its possible to snap a magnet to the grid?
Yes, I can (I am sure others can as well).

The answer is: No, it is not possible.

I have provided a discussion, detailed answers and specific ways to reduce your problem in post 4, items [1] to [4]. I will summarise again.

a. As per [2], I agree, there is no method currently in OG to snap a magnet to the grid.

b. As per [2], Submit a Feature Request via Help/SendFeedback.

c. However, this condition, the absence of the SnapMagnetToGrid feature, does not cause me the headache that it causes you. This is most probably because I have small techniques for overcoming; working around; and mitigating the condition. I have detailed these techniques in post 4, items [3] and [4]. If you are interested in using them until Omni provides said feature, please refer to post 4.

Last edited by DerekAsirvadem; 2010-10-24 at 10:08 PM..
 
Well thanks for the clarification. And yes I did look at your suggestions before, they don't really help me. I need to be able to make precision diagrams and that involves having clean lines that align well. I can do this when I have simple boxes with the 4 default magnets, but if I want (say) 6 magnets spaces at precise intervals along the edge of a simple rectangle this isn't possible in OG and seems a significant hole.

And yes, I'm well aware of keeping work on a grid and using shapes that are fixed multiples of a base unit measure etc etc.

It's sad, because without the ability to do precision magnet snap, OG drifts down from a drawing tool to a quick diagram tool good enough for presentations but not good enough for production work. it's really the only thing holding it back imho.
 
 


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