OmniGraffle 5.0 beta 1 is now available

As many of you no doubt know, we've all been very busy here at the Omni Group as of late. However, some of us have been busy with something that is not OmniFocus. That's right, OmniGraffle 5 is now ready for public beta testing.

NOTA BENE: OmniGraffle 5.0 beta 1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 to run.

So, what's new with OmniGraffle 5? If I were to tell you its story (which is a technique taught to me by Scott Maier long ago), it would something along these lines…

The basic plot encompasses a new layout engine based on the Graphviz code, offering two new layout types in addition to the two already present. Bezier controls on connection lines are now also in place to make hierarchical layouts even better, along with whatever uses you, the kind reader, may find for them. Along with the new layout engine comes Subgraphs, which are special pieces of hierarchy that can be collapsed and expanded as needed.

There's an exciting subplot involving the Stencil Window where you can view the entire library of stencils, perform searches for them based on their labels, notes, or custom data. You can even search Graffletopia for stencils and download them to your computer easily.

Some elements have gotten a rewrite, such as Master Canvases being replaced by the new Shared Layers, where you can have as many shared layers per canvas as needed, and changes made anywhere to a Shared Layer propagate to all other instances of the Shared Layer. Likewise, the Style: Summary Inspector has been replaced with a new Style Tray where you can easily drag object styles to other objects.

Layers can now display in an accessory view where you can view all of the objects on a layer and more easily move elements between layers and reorder them. The Drawing Tools palette can show all or just some of the tools you want and you can reorder tools as wanted.

For those of you watching on small screens, the ruler accessory view now contains a subset of inspector controls for changing styles, in case you're not keen on having the regular inspectors up all the time.

Lots and lots of other improvements have been put in place as well, too long to list here however there's a handy new tutorial in the OmniGraffle Help to get you started.

There's this one really great part where OmniGraffle 5 supports Quick Look.

And for the spoilerific plot twist at the end of the story: We've added a Visio binary file format parser, so you can directly open the default Microsoft Visio file format, VSD.

We haven't made any decisions about a release date, keep an eye out for an announcement from our marketing team concerning that.

As for pricing, any OmniGraffle 4 purchases made on or after October 31 will receive a free upgrade to OmniGraffle 5 when it ships in early 2008. At release, OmniGraffle 5 Standard will be available for $99.95. Upgrades from OmniGraffle 4 Standard will be available for $39.95. OmniGraffle 5 Professional will be available for $199.95 with upgrades from OmniGraffle 4 Professional costing $99.95.

So, if you're running Leopard, please stop by the Beta Download Page, peruse the release notes, and enjoy!