I occasionally need to draw diagrams or flow charts in my web-development business, and something like Omnigraffle or Visio for Windows, good as they are, can really be more than I need. Even the web-based drawing tools in Google Apps or Project Draw may be too much.
So I was intrigued by Shapes, a simple diagramming app for Snow Leopard. Shapes has been created by prolific developer Todd Ditchendorf, who is perhaps best-known for Fluid, the system that lets users turn websites into desktop apps.
Shapes’ interface is pretty simple. Just drag a desired shape from the palette on the left and drop it onto the page; it can be resized and moved to suit. Colors, fonts, borders and other attributes can be controlled by changing variables in the inspection panel on the right. Shapes can be turned on and off from the outline panel, lined up vertically or horizontally, grouped, and made to move to the foreground or background.
The software includes a reasonable, if fairly small, collection of shapes. It also includes the ability to insert image files and text into the drawing, and a line tool. For those used to other drawing programs, though, the line tool may be a disappointment, as there is no way of attaching lines to other shapes. The developer says this function is in the works.
Files are saved in the proprietary .shapes format, but can be exported as images (.jpg, .gif, .png, .tiff) and as PDFs. Shapes is available for $4.99 in the Mac App Store and from the developer’s website. A trial version is also available from the website.
Shapes doesn’t yet offer all the features of a full-blown diagramming program, but its simple interface and ease of use may be appropriate for some people’s more modest needs.