Swimlanes using Artboards

If you are looking for how to do swim lanes in Omnifocus, you won’t find the same functionality as in Visio, however, I’ve found that using an Artboard works well for doing swim lanes. But creating the lane with an Artboard shape, it acts as a container for all the shapes in that lane, making it far easier to move and resize. A few tips from my experience:

  • Since Artboard boxes grab control of shapes even at the line edge, have the swim lane label just inside the Artboard box. If you don’t, and you overlap the box from the next swim lane, it will grab the label from the adjacent lane. i.e. if your box is 108px with a 1px line, then make the label at 106px and center it inside the box.
  • Only have the swim lane boxes on the Artboard. I put labels and titles on a normal layer, then process steps and connecting lines on another layer. This makes it easy for me to extend all the swim lane boxes at one time by selecting the swim lanes together. Unlike grouping, using the Artboard box means you won’t stretch the other items in there.
  • You can’t use the alignment tools for the Artboard swim lanes AND have the swim lane shapes also move; at least I have not figured out how to change this behavior. Instead you have to select the Artboard swim lane and use the mouse pointer to move it manually to line lanes up, if you are also moving the shapes.
  • Before printing, the Swimlane Artboard should be converted to a normal layer (simply right-click the layer, then in Layer Properties, uncheck Artboard), as Artboards cannot be printed.

You can grab the Swimlane Template file here.

With a few feature additions, Artboard functionality is actually not too far off bringing some decent (IMHO) swim lane ability to OG. A suggestion for the OG product manager:

  • Enable the ability for shapes contained on a single Artboard layer to not be able to overlap (as an option), and as they move, they could “push” the other Artboard shapes. This would enable the ability to move or expand a swim lane and have the other swim lanes move as needed. This should also prevent the issue of having a swim lane close to another and accidentally grabbing the next swim lane’s label.
  • Allow printing of Artboards
1 Like