Omnigraffle Linkback Screencast | Localtype

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Omnigraffle Linkback Screencast

Originally written on: June 6, 2011 at 4:42 am

Last Updated: June 6, 2011 at 4:42 am


For the last two major versions, Omnigraffle has incorporated Linkback functionality. A Linkback allows you to create multiple instances of an object group. When a Linkback instance is modified, all instances dynamically update. You can have multiple Linkbacks (different object groups), and multiple instances of a Linkback in your document. It’s akin to the old Classic Mac OS Publish and Subscribe, or Microsoft’s OLE. If you’re a Photoshop user, it’s similar to a Smart Object.

When creating wireframes, there are often several objects that are repeated throughout the deck — Headers, footers, navigation, and sidebar widgets are all good candidates for Linkback. Nothing is more tedious than having to go into your document and change each instance by hand. Using a Linkback makes fast work of global changes.

Why not use Master Layers? Master Layers have their place, but they lack the flexibility of the Linkback. Master Layers are locked in location across all canvases. If you want to move an instance of a widget to another location in only one canvas using Master Layers, you’re out of luck. Linkbacks by contrast, are object-based, not layer/canvas based, so you can position them wherever you want.

Creating a Linkback is easy. Watch the video for a tutorial, or follow these steps:

  1. Select the objects you wish to use as a Linkback.
  2. Right-Click (or Control-Click), on the objects, and select Copy As > PDF.
  3. Delete the original group of objects (not the Linkback).
  4. Paste the object onto the canvas. This is now your Linkback.
  5. Paste the Linkback as you wish, throughout the document.

Updating a Linkback is also fairly straightforward:

  1. Double click on any instance of your Linkback. This will open a new window called “Linkback to [the name of your document]”
  2. Edit as desired
  3. Command-S to save your changes to the Linkback. Your changes will not be shown until you save the Linkback.
  4. Close the Linkback window. You should now see all the instances with the new edits.

Yes, I am aware of the typo in the screencast :-P

If you have questions, or if there is a tutorial on Omnigraffle you’d like to see, let me know in the comments.




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