Create better diagrams with less effort using OmniGraffle
- Produce high-quality professional-looking diagrams that communicate information much better than words
- Makes diagramming fun and simple for Macintosh users
- Master the art of illustrating your ideas with OmniGraffle
- Learn to draw engaging charts and graphs to grasp your viewers’ attention to your presentations
- A hands-on guide filled with visual step-by-step examples that cover both the basics and the advanced features of OmniGraffle
Easy shape selection
When diagrams become complex and you want to change the appearance of many of the same objects, you can either hold down the shift key on your keyboard and select the shapes you need to change, or you can use the built-in selection functions in OmniGraffle.
There are three built in methods of selecting shapes:
- The Edit | Select | Similar Objects menu command.
- The context sensitive menu when right-clicking on selected shapes (Select | Similar Objects).
- Using the Canvas: Selection inspector.
If shapes are connected to each other, it’s also possible to select connected shapes from the application menu or the context sensitive menu. You will deal with connected shapes later.
What OmniGraffle defines as similar shapes
Similar shapes are shapes that have exactly the same styling, not the form, type or size of the shapes. The styling can be; the fi lling color or blend of the shape, the stroke thickness, the corner radius, the stroke color, the shadow, if the shape is filled with a picture and if the shape has an associated text.
Neither the size of two or more shapes, nor the content of the text will make OmniGraffle define the shapes as dissimilar.
If you change the font type, weight or color–then OmniGraffle will define the shapes as dissimilar.
As the few examples in the table below show more often than not, shapes that are of the same type (rectangle, circle, and so on) are dissimilar.
ShapesExplanationResultSame font, color and weight, but different text.Similar shapes.Difference in the fuzziness of the shadow.Dissimilar shapes.Different font size.Dissimilar shapes.Different color.
Different text, but same font, color and weight.Dissimilar shapes.
Let’s explore how easy it is to select similar shapes.
Create an OmniGraffle document with only 4 shapes: Rectangle, Circle, Diamond, and Triangle. Mix them all together so it’s not easy to manually select various shapes.
In the download bundle, Ch:7, there is a file named Experiments in shape selections.graffle—you can open this if you do not want to create your own version.
In the Canvas: Selection inspector (seen in the previous screenshot), you will see the four different shapes. Under each shape, there are two numbers separated by a forward slash (/). The number on the left indicates how many of the given shape are selected, and the number to the right of the slash is the total count of shapes on the current canvas.
As you can see in the Selection inspector, we have 11 rectangles, 9 triangles, 10 circles, and 10 diamonds.
To select all the diamonds on the canvas, click on the diamond shape in the Selection inspector. Notice that the numbers below the shape are now reading 10/10. If you click on the Fill style inspector and use the color named Honeydew from the Crayon color palette—all the diamonds change into this color.
Now, click on the rectangle in the upper-left corner and right-click to get the context sensitive menu. Then select then use the Select | Similar Objects menu command, as seen next:
Now all the rectangles are selected.
Fill the rectangles with the color named Tin from the Crayons color palette.
The next thing you are going to do is to select four of the circles and fill these with a yellow color.
Notice that the Selection inspector now has five different shapes:
You can now continue on your own to experiment changing various style properties to the shape groups.
Selecting connected shapes
You are now going to perform some experiments with connected shapes. Start with a diagram like the one next. You can either create this by hand, or you can open the file named Experiments in shape selections.graffle found in the Ch:7 directory in the download bundle.
The diagram is found on the second canvas. Notice that all shapes are connected to each other.
If you look at the Selection inspector, you’ll see four shapes, where the lines are one of those shapes.
OmniGraffle defines descendants to a selected shape as all shapes that are either connected to the right of or below the selected shape.
OmniGraffle defines ancestors to a selected shape as all shapes that are either connected to the left of or above the selected shape.
The following table lists a few actions and their corresponding results while working with connected shapes.
ActionResultChoose (select) circle number 1 and execute Descendants from the Edit | Selection menu.
This action results in the selection of the shapes connected below and to the right of the chosen shape.Select circle number 2 and choose Ancestors from the Edit | Selection menu.
This action results in the selection of shapes connected to the left of the chosen shape.Select circle number 3 and choose Ancestors from the Edit | Selection menu.
This action results in the selection of shapes connected above and to the left of the chosen shape.Select square B and choose Descendants from the Edit | Selection menu.
This action result in every shape except circle number 1 and square A being selected.Select square C and choose Ancestors from the Edit | Selection menu.
The shapes connected to the left of the chosen shape are selected.Select square C and choose Descendants from the Edit | Selection menu.
The shapes connected below and to the right of the chosen shape are selected.Select any shape and choose Connected Objects from the Edit | Selection menu.
This action results in the whole diagram being selected since every shape is connect to every other shape, either directly or indirectly.
Selecting all these shapes—either by form or by connections seems like a very powerful tool, and indeed it is.
With this way of selecting shapes, you can easily change the look and feel in a consistent manner throughout your whole diagram.
Easy re-styling of shapes
Instead of selecting similar shapes, and then changing their appearance by using the style inspectors, you can also drag and drop styles from the Style Tray directly onto the Selection inspector.
Start your experiments in the easy re-styling of shapes by creating various shapes, and fill some of these with various colors.
To save you some time and get right into the experimentation, you can also open the file named Experiments in re-styling shapes.graffle, which is found in the Ch: 6 folder of the download bundle.
We’re not quite happy with only having four yellow circles.
Your first task is to make the rest of the circles yellow. Unfortunately, you do not know which yellow color these circles are – you could work with the color picker to get the right yellow. This is too much work. Let’s do this the simple way.
In the Selection inspector, you will see all the different shapes, including the four yellow circles. If you use the file from the download bundle, you should have the yellow circles as the first shape in the inspector.
To select all the yellow circles, you could click on one of the circles and then use the Edit | Select | Similar Objects menu command. This is too much work really.
Just click on the shape inside the inspector.
What happens now is that all the yellow circles have been selected.
In the Style Tray, the styling for these shapes is now shown:
You can now drag the color chit (//Image 43) on to the white circle in the Selection inspector.
Suddenly all your circles have this shade of yellow.
And it’s not only the color we can change in a second like this. In fact, your next job is to eradicate all of those gray and boring squares and instead replace these with the green and happy diamonds.
This is also just a two-step process.
Start by clicking on one of the diamonds in your canvas.
Now, drag the Complete Style Chit (the leftmost of all the chits) onto the gray squares inside the selection inspector.
Not only does this change the color of the square shapes— but it also changes the shapes into diamonds.
You can thus drag any chit from the Style Tray onto any shapes both on the canvas , and also onto the Selection inspector.
This is a very powerful tool to aid you in getting a consistent look for your shapes.
You can also use this method to search and replace a lot of shapes in one go. No need to manually hunt around on a shape-by-shape basis.