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The New Line Behavior in OmniGraffle 5.3: How to enable it, how it works Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
We've introduced new behavior to the way that lines connect to shapes in OmniGraffle 5.3, currently this behavior is off by default to preserve appearance for legacy and iPad documents, but this thread is here to show you how to enable the new line styles and to illustrate why you might want to check it out.

(Those of you who downloaded and installed the release candidate have already been exposed to this new behavior, the release notes have the command line defaults to turn it back on, as well as in this post.)

If you would like to enable the new line behavior works, paste the following in Terminal:

"defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniGrafflePro UseOldBezierPathLayout NO" (if you are running OmniGraffle Professional, minus the quotes)

"defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniGraffle UseOldBezierPathLayout NO" (if you are running the Standard version of OmniGraffle, minus the quotes)

"defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniGrafflePro.MacAppStore UseOldBezierPathLayout NO" (if you are running OmniGraffle Professional purchased in the Mac App Store, minus the quotes)

"defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniGraffle.MacAppStore UseOldBezierPathLayout NO" (if you are running the Standard version of OmniGraffle purchased in the Mac App Store, minus the quotes)

Of course, if you replace NO with YES you can go back to the old way that lines behave if you don't like the new way.

So, what does it all mean? We'll take it step by step:

Line Endings and their Location

Typically lines desire to point towards the center of a shape that they're connected to (unless snapping to a nearby magnet), yet the endpoints of a selected line show their termination at the edge of the shape.



The new behavior will show the selected line's endpoints at the center of the shape, yet any arrowheads or line endings will still render at the edge of the shape (unless the line is connected to a magnet inside the shape and the line is in front.



There isn't any functional difference here between the old and the new, however the new behavior makes it distinctly easier to have a Bezier line loop around to connect to the same shape without having to make any midpoints, etc.
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Last edited by Joel; 2011-07-19 at 03:00 PM.. Reason: Bolded the command line defaults for emphasis.
 
The New Curved Line Type

We've made some significant changes to the way that the Curved line style looks, much more aesthetically for the better It's much easier now to get graceful and attractive curves between shapes with just one midpoint instead of having to fuss about with multiple midpoints.


(Here is an old-style Curved line between two squares with one midpoint.)


(And here is the same line rendered using the new line behavior.)

It's worth pointing out that to get the look and feel of the new curve you'd have to use the Bezier line style or multiple midpoints with the Curved style and it still wouldn't look quite as nice.

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The New Orthogonal Control Handle

Orthogonal lines have traditionally had a control handle at their midpoint for adjusting the 'dogleg' of the line where applicable, however that control would only move in one direction based on the layout.



The new control handle allows movement in both the X and Y directions, and provides for much more power when routing orthogonal lines.


(It's worth pointing out that without any interaction you will still get the traditional 'dogleg' between shapes unless you move the handle far enough away.)

The method winds up being fairly easy to understand; the line must route between both endpoints and through the handle with a minimum humber of segments. This means it's easy to get a line that goes from one side of a shape to the same side of another shape directly above or below without having to add midpoints.



You can also use the new Orthogonal line to get get perfectly horizontal and vertical lines between shapes without resorting to using magnets or faking it with the grid and not actually connecting the shapes.



Going Forward and How to Best Handle Legacy Documents

As stated at the beginning of the post, this new behavior is off by default. We wanted to ensure that the transition wasn't bumpy for anyone out there as well as maintain appearances for documents going back and forth between the Mac and the iPad. There will be a future release where the new line behavior is the default (there will still be the preference to switch back if desired).

We're aware that many of you use OmniGraffle for more illustrative purposes, where you may not want how a Curved line routes to change at all (it may be a path laid over a map, or just something that's artistic in nature). so we'd like to elicit your feedback as to how we should handle older files. Should we simply flag legacy documents and leave well enough alone? Perhaps converting older Curved line types to Bezier so that they look exactly the same?

We'd love to hear from you on this subject, so please chime in here.
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Hi - my copy of 5.3 has the new behaviour as default - a very nice group of improvements for general diagramming.
 
Thanks for these explanations. I've been trying to use the new orthogonal line controls, but they're so fussy that I don't think they're worth the effort.

The control handle seems to have an absolute position, so it doesn't move with the line when I rearrange things. That leads to lots of rearranging, converting back to straight lines, or just deleting and redrawing all the lines. Frustrating, and is already giving me a deep dread of revisions.

The control handle also seems way too sensitive. I'm spending far too much time getting the proper angle, which used to be so easy. Then option+command+J to make sure the line isn't a pixel off.

The uses you mention in your post are good ones, but I need them way less often than I need a simple, clean, right angle that moves predictably.

Am I missing something? If so, I'm all ears. I'd love to be able to use these new features as easily as the old ones.
 
Once you move the control handle for the orthogonal line, we assume you want it to stay put -- If you Command-click the handle, it will snap back to its default "middle" position and move automatically between the shapes it's connecting as you move those shapes around.

Hope that sheds some light on how the handle works.
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Thanks, that helps.
 
On handling things after the new curvy lines are the default:

I think there are three principles to consider:

1: A document should look the same when opened as it did when saved, unless there's an informed choice to do otherwise.

2: You should be able to modify a document using current tools and editing methods without surprises.

3: The user may not know what "bezier" means.

This may be difficult to implement, but here's an idea:

On opening an old document with the new line defaults, the user is presented with a dialog explaining the situation and given the choice of turning curvies into beziers or leaving them as (new) curvies. The first choice preserves appearance, the second preserves line type and therefore behavior and modification methods. Before making the choice, the user is given the option of seeing the document in those two states. The "what if?" options inform the choice.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel View Post
Going Forward and How to Best Handle Legacy Documents

As stated at the beginning of the post, this new behavior is off by default. We wanted to ensure that the transition wasn't bumpy for anyone out there as well as maintain appearances for documents going back and forth between the Mac and the iPad. There will be a future release where the new line behavior is the default (there will still be the preference to switch back if desired).
So what of the iPad app? Is the plan to provide this functionality there as well?
 
If you're running OmniGraffle for iPad v1.6 or later, you can enable the new line behavior by tapping this link on your iPad:

omnigraffle:///change-preference?UseOldBezierPathLayout=0

To go back to the old line behavior, tap the following link:

omnigraffle:///change-preference?UseOldBezierPathLayout=1

(more than likely you should copy/paste those URLs and email them to whatever account you're using on your iPad)

You will have to "force quit" OmniGraffle after enabling the new settings by pressing the Home button twice to bring up the fast app switching tray, then tap-and-hold the OmniGraffle icon until the red "minus" badge shows, then tap that to quit the app.

The new behavior should be showing on the next launch.

For what it's worth, we're considering making the new line behavior a per-line setting with a checkbox in the Connections Inspector, which seems like the more robust thing to do, but that's still in the discussion stage.
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