OmniGraffle 3 Reference Manual for iOS


Every piece of software you use has a core set of terminology, and like those apps, OmniGraffle has a common nomenclature. To better help you understand the terms and terminology used when describing the interface or how to work in OmniGraffle, we’re providing this brief glossary.

App Menu
The App Menu contains information to help you get the most out of OmniGraffle and settings for customizing your OmniGraffle experience. Tap the gear button in the toolbar of the document browser to access it. See The App Menu for more details.
Artboard a feature of OmniGraffle Pro
An artboard is a special type of layer whose objects define an export area, or act as a container, for objects on standard or shared layers higher up in the layer stack.
A curve on a path whose curvature is determined by the extent and angles of control handles which extend from the vertex point. To convert a regular vertex into a Bézier curve, choose the Point Editor Tool and touch and hold the vertex point until its control handles appear.
Bounding Box
The rectangular area that defines the space an object occupies on the canvas is known as the bounding box. Bounding boxes have eight handles (one at each corner and centerpoint of the box), which you can click and drag to resize an object.
The canvas is the big white area in the center of OmniGraffle’s interface where you draw and create things. An OmniGraffle document always contains at least one canvas and one layer.
Contextual Menus
Since iOS doesn't have a menu structure similar to macOS, OmniGraffle uses contextual menus to provide a method of interacting with the user interface. Where available, contextual menus appear when you touch and hold on an object and then release your finger.

If a contextual menu has additional options, you will see an arrow on the right edge of the menu; tap the right arrow button to reveal the additional menu options. After scrolling the menu to the right, a left arrow button appears on the left edge of the contextual menu so you can scroll back to the previous set of options.
In iOS 13 and later, contextual menus can also appear as vertical lists (such as those that appear for files in the document browser).
Control Handles
Red lines that extend from a vertex point; used to control the curvature of a Bézier curve.
Data Variable
A string that you can use to insert object and line labels based on other information in your document. Data variables look for like-named elements in a document’s XML source, and display its corresponding data related to the string provide. See Appendix F: Data Variables for a list of data variables available in OmniGraffle.
When you create a new file in OmniGraffle, the basic type of file you can create is a document, which ends in a .graffle file extension. You can also create Stencil files (.gstencil) and Templates (.gtemplate).
Document Browser
The file browser that OmniGraffle uses to help you manage OmniGraffle diagrams, stencils, and templates. Starting with OmniGraffle 3.11, OmniGraffle uses the built in iOS file browser for document management, including access to your files in the cloud (with iCloud Drive or another storage service) and files synced with OmniPresence to Omni Sync Server or a WebDAV server.
Drag & Drop
Drag & Drop is a system-level function that’s integrated with OmniGraffle and other apps on iOS. You can drag into OmniGraffle from the Files app and other apps, reorder items in OmniGraffle’s Sidebar, as well as drag objects, layers, and canvases from an open OmniGraffle file to other apps on your device.
The Files app offers a way to access files in local app directories, as well as those in the cloud. You can copy files to the local app directory, tap OmniGraffle files to open them in OmniGraffle, and also drag from OmniGraffle into the Files app.
A group consists of two or more objects that are bound to each other. An object group, when selected, can be styled and moved on the canvas as a single unit; the styles you apply using the Object inspectors are assigned to each object in the group.
You use an inspector to define the styles and properties of an object, define the canvas area and units of measurement, and set document properties for saving and printing your OmniGraffle documents. The individual inspectors are contained in four separate tabs of the Inspector Bar, located to the right of the canvas.
Inspector Bar

The Inspector bar is located to the right of the canvas. Similar to the Sidebar, the Inspector has four tabs which contain specific categories of inspectors:

  • Use the Object inspectors to style, size, and arrange the objects you create.
  • Use the Style inspector to view the styles applied to a selected object, as well as apply styles from other objects on the canvas.
  • Use the Properties inspectors to define how and where lines connect to other objects. If you have OmniGraffle Pro, you can also add Notes and key-value metadata for the objects you create, and assign actions to objects.
  • Use the Canvas and Document inspectors to define the selected canvas. If your document has multiple canvases, you can set each canvas’s properties independently. Use the Document inspector to add document-wide metadata for the document.
Keyboard Shortcut
A set of keys you press to invoke a menu command, or a single character or number key that you press to select one of OmniGraffle’s tools. Keyboard shortcuts are available when a Bluetooth keyboard is paired with your device.
Text that you add to an object, line, or the canvas with the Text Tool.
A layer contains the objects that you draw. There are three different types of layers in OmniGraffle:
  • Standard Layer — this is the basic layer type, available in both OmniGraffle Standard and Pro.
  • a feature of OmniGraffle Pro Shared Layer — shared layers are used to share objects with the canvases in your document. Shared layers are only available in OmniGraffle Pro.
  • a feature of OmniGraffle Pro Artboard Layer — artboard layers contain a new object type in OmniGraffle Pro, the artboard.
  • a feature of OmniGraffle Pro Shared Artboard Layer — an artboard layer that is shared with all other canvses in your document.

Canvases can contain multiple layers of any type.

Layer Stack
The order in which layers appear in the sidebar. When a canvas has multiple layers, those layers are stacked on top of each other. Layers can be repositioned in the stack by dragging them up or down in the sidebar.
A line can be a standalone object on the canvas, or used to connect two or more shapes together. To create a line, use the Line tool. Use the Stroke inspector to change the line’s style properties, and the Line inspector to change the line type and apply line ends.
Bits of information that you can enter into the Metadata, Canvas Metadata, or Document Data inspectors, some of which can be retrieved as labels for objects and connecting lines with data variables.
Navigation Sidebar
The sidebar to the left of the canvas, is used for managing everything in your document. You can organize and rename the canvases, layers, objects, and groups of objects here.

The navigation sidebar has two tabs which you can tap to switch between different things in your document:

  • Use the Canvases tab to organize and rename the canvases, layers, objects, and groups of objects in your document.
  • Use the Selection tab to select, style, and interact with objects based on their properties.
The things you draw on the canvas are known as objects. An object can be a shape that you draw with the Shape or Freehand Drawing tools, a line that you draw with the Line tool, or a block of text or line label that you enter using the Text tool.
a feature of OmniGraffle Pro If you have OmniGraffle Pro, you can also use the Artboard tool to add an artboard to your document, or to convert text to shapes.
Omni Automation
A method of scripting OmniGraffle with JavaScript.
The origin marks the vertical and horizontal intersection at the canvas coordinates 0,0. When Show Origin is turned on in the Grid & Guides, the origin point is marked by dark blue Canvas Origin guides.
An Omni Automation Plug-In can contain a collection of scripts, libraries, and assets. For more information, see the Omni Automation website.
Smart Guides
Light blue guidelines that appear when aligning objects on the canvas.
A stencil is a reusable shape that can be dragged to the canvas from the Stencils window. Stencils can be as simple as a square or triangle, or as complex as a multilayered and meticulously designed illustration. Each object or object group in an OmniGraffle stencil file becomes an individual stencil.
A website for sharing and downloading stencils for use with OmniGraffle.
A stroke is the line that borders an object. To remove or apply styles to an object’s stroke, or to a line created with the Line tool, use the Stroke inspector.
Style Filter
Use the Style Filter buttons along the bottom of the Selection sidebar to isolate like-styled objects based on their style properties. Like-styled objects are collected as Style Sets in the middle of the sidebar.
Style Set
After filtering objects based on their styles, objects are collected into Style Sets in the Selection sidebar.
A table is a special kind of group that organizes rows and columns of objects.
An OmniGraffle file type that contains the base settings—such as the canvas size and units of measurement, background colors, or objects—used when creating new OmniGraffle documents.
Tool Palette
Floating above the canvas you’ll find the Tool Palette, which contains the tools you use in OmniGraffle to select, create, draw, connect, and interact with objects.
The region along the top of the Document Browser and Canvas is the toolbar. The toolbar contains buttons for opening and closing the Sidebar (to the left of the canvas) and the Inspector sidebar (to the right of the canvas).
A brief explanation that appears over a tool or inspector item when selected. Tooltips can be turned on or off by tapping the gear menu, and choosing Settings from the app menu.