OmniGraffle iOS App problem list

Been buying/using OmniGraffle on the iPad since it was released.

Along the way it has been buggy, incomplete, and less featured than the Mac version.

I keep updating and trying to find a place where the iOS version fits, and it just doesn’t.

This seems to be a big waste of the Omni Group’s resources, as they fumble on the 10 yard line.

Major problems:

  1. No way to use with PowerPoint (cannot cut/paste or drag/drop)
  2. If you accidentally move an element, sometimes Undo doesn’t move it back, it undoes random other things you did before.
  3. Screen refresh of elements won’t happen unless you pinch/zoom the screen, especially painful when you are trying to precisely move an object/group to another
  4. It is really hard to select and move an object, you start to drag it and the size distorts instead!
  5. The drawing palette method of using Favorites needs a complete redo, it just never works the way you want. Why can you select multiple favorites at once (and no way to deselect), what does that even mean?
  6. Adding pre-made shapes is totally hidden, and when you find it, not very useful
  7. Snap to grid/object and the distance lines shows up about 10% of the time

That is enough, could go on.

Have you emailed these issues into the OmniGroup?

Unfortuantely I don’t have any suggested solutions for you, I’m not a heavy user of OG :)

Very hard to maintain several apps across two quite different platforms.

The company made a big bet on iOS for professional applications:

but the tablet market has become a little etiolated:

I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with OmniGraffle on iOS!

I’d love to know more about what trouble you were having, as this seems to be working well for me. I just opened OmniGraffle and PowerPoint side-by-side on my iPad, then I did a long-touch on a shape in OmniGraffle to start a system drag and dragged it over to PowerPoint, where I dropped it directly on a slide. I then drag-selected multiple shapes in OmniGraffle, then long-touched one of them and dragged the whole collection over to my PowerPoint slide. That worked great as well.

Oh, with further testing (on different examples) I see the problem! My test above was with OmniGraffle graphics that didn’t have any text, so when I dropped that content on PowerPoint it saw the image representation of the content and correctly used that image.

But if the content I’m dragging has any text, then we also put a copy of that text on the pasteboard (so you can drag that text to a text editor). Unfortunately, when PowerPoint sees that text it decides to use it rather than the image—even though we tell the pasteboard that our preferred representations are PDF, PNG, and JPEG.

Unfortunately, drag and drop is a cooperative effort, and a bug on either end breaks the process. In this case, it looks like this is a bug on Microsoft’s end: PowerPoint should really be using one of the source app’s preferred pasteboard representations rather than the later text-only fallback representation. (Mail handles this correctly: Mail accepts drags of both images and text, and if I drag shapes from OmniGraffle into Mail it always presents the PDF image since that’s the source app’s preferred representation.)

So I’d report this bug to Microsoft, but I don’t know how quickly Microsoft fixes bugs like this. While you’re waiting, a workaround you can use is to drag the content to a place that does pay attention to the source app’s preferred representation, then drag it back out.

Oh, but it looks like PowerPoint doesn’t accept PDF content either, only PNG or JPEG. Which is OK in that OmniGraffle provides all three (that’s why my first tests worked), but is awkward because if you drag to Mail and back out you’ll only get PDF, which you can’t drop into PowerPoint. But if you drag to Photos and back out, that works great.

(My “go to” app for this sort of thing is actually Gladys, which lets you see all the various representations on the pasteboard and select the one you want to drag out. But Photos is a built-in app.)

Have you figured out any pattern to when this happens? I haven’t encountered this in my normal use patterns, but we’d sure love to track that down and fix it!

(To be clear: when you Undo, are you saying the shape doesn’t move back but earlier changes get undone? Or that the both happen at once, i.e. that separate actions got treated as a single undoable action?)

Very sorry for this as well! This implies that somewhere we’ve made an error calculating the pixels that were touched by an action. I haven’t seen this happen in quite a while, but that just means we’ve fixed it for my common actions—and if you’re seeing this trouble in the latest release, clearly we have a bug to track down and fix.

If you could email us details of when you see this happen (i.e. what action you’re performing that leaves any portion of the screen out of date), we’d love to fix this! A screenshot or screen recording would help us track it down even faster, but I know that isn’t always possible when you’re working with sensitive content.

Sorry, I agree this is more awkward than it should be (or was, a few years ago). When iOS added support for system-wide drag and drop between apps, it unfortunately didn’t include any mechanism for an app to indicate exactly when the drag should start. We just have an on/off switch that says whether system drags should be allowed. This has the advantage of making the system-wide drag gesture consistent across all apps—but has the downside that it’s now very difficult for the app to guide the behavior.

So my best advice here is to learn to distinguish between system drags and local app drags. With a little practice and observation, it becomes a lot clearer:

  • When you touch-and-hold on a shape for a second or so, you’ll see the content you’re touching “lift” from the canvas, with a slightly lighter background and shadow outlining the entire drag region. This indicates that you’ve started a system drag which can be dragged between apps. Once that drag kicks in, the source app no longer has control over that drag. The app simply has to wait and see where it gets dropped, then try to intuit what you meant by that drop. (If you drop back onto the same canvas, OmniGraffle interprets that as a move; if you drag to a different canvas, it’s interpreted as a copy.)

  • If you touch a shape and quickly move your finger (also known as a “swipe”, i.e. a quick drag that happens before the system’s “lift” drag gesture kicks in), this could mean that you’re trying to move the shape, or that you’re trying to pan the canvas and the shape just happened to be in the way. We distinguish between those two by looking at whether the shape is selected: if the shape is selected, the swipe starts moving your selection immediately. Otherwise, it’s interpreted as a panning gesture.

Wow, I wonder when that favorites drawing bug got introduced? Apparently I haven’t paid attention to that part of the interface in a while.

The last favorite you tap on is the only one it actually uses; it should be displaying that as the only selected item. (It does update to show that last favorite as your only selection as soon as you start using the tool. Or you can tap-and-hold on a favorite to select it and correctly deselect everything else. But this is definitely not the way we intend for this to be behaving!)

Are you talking about adding new options to Favorites? Or about creating new Stencils?

I suspect the confusion here is caused by #4 above: distinguishing between system drags and local drags. Snap to grid/object and distance lines should always show up in local drags, but never in system drags. (Hopefully you’ll find this to be much more reliable once you’ve learned how to reliably get the type of drag you intend.)

Thanks for sharing your feedback; I hope this helps!


Ok, I just downloaded Gladys, and this helps with the PowerPoint use.

I like how when you click on a clipping, it then shows all versions (PDF, PNG, JPG, etc) and you can drag any of those over.

I am not able to drag in a PDF to PowerPoint (as you mentioned) but both PNG and JPG work.

PNG has the advantage of preserving transparent backgrounds—which is what we all need.

I’ve added feedback inside the PowerPoint app asking for better drag/drop support.

I will reply back on your other questions this week.

Thanks for the tip on Gladys, really saved a bunch of heartache.

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Funny,I just tried Gladys again and it no longer creates a PNG when you add a Copy from OmniGraffle.

Without copy/paste from OG to iPad PowerPoint, well, what’s the point!

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