OmniWeb is a web browser, and even though there are several nice free web browsers available for the Mac, Brian spent some time showing us why dropping thirty bucks on their web browser might be a good idea. OmniWeb has been around for a long time—longer than Mac OS X in fact. OmniWeb was one of, if not the most popular web browser available for NeXTStep/OpenStep (an ancestor of Mac OS X), and The Omni Group has been leading their field with innovative and cool ways to surf the web. Other browser developers have helped themselves to many of OmniWeb's features, but the folks at The Omni Group have taken it as the sincerest form of flattery, and left other browsers in the dust with their newest version.
Topping the list of excellent reasons to surf the web using OmniWeb is the new Graphic Tabs feature. Yes, other web browsers have tab buttons so that you can load multiple web pages in a single window, but OmniWeb's tabs are miniaturized, resizable little pictures of the web pages they represent. OmniWeb also remembers the pages you were looking at, what windows you had open and where they were when you quit so that you're right back where you left off the next time you browse the web. Creating shortcuts to the data you want from searchable web sites is an amazing time-saver, and setting up collections of web sites that load all at once using the Workspaces feature is another feature that got oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Brian went on to show us their charting and diagramming software called OmniGraffle. You might not know what a "Graffle" is when you get done using this program, but you will certainly come away with a beautiful floor plan, family tree, map, flow chart, garden design, or pretty much anything else you feel like drawing. It has palettes packed with professionally designed, hi-resolution graphics that you just drop into your document. You can draw lines that remember what they are attached to when you move objects, and re-size and position things very easily using automatic guide lines. Brian made it look easy and fun!
If making lists is something you do (and who doesn't), then OmniOutliner is something you should definitely take a look at. It can help you create any kind of list (grocery, to-do, report outlines, etc.), take meeting minutes, write structured notes, and even write a book. Using the new Styles feature to give your Outliner documents an easy to maintain and visually consistent look is a hot new addition to the recently released version 3. They also showed us how to add images, sounds, web links, and even movies to the documents.
It was nice having the manager of technical support and one of the developers on the OmniOutliner team there to answer all of our questions. Thanks to Brian and Andrew for spending the time with us!
Not to be outdone, Clark Schroeder from Apple brought the new iLife '05 to the table. Clark started with a general overview of each application, and then worked his way into live demos.
If you don't know about iTunes, you need to find a better rock to live under. The hottest Digital Jukebox on the planet did not get a big make-over in the latest version of iLife, but it is a free download, and Clark showed us a few of the minor enhancements in the latest version. He even brought along an iPod shuffle to cause a little envy in the crowd.
He also turned us on to a few of the great new features in iPhoto. Hierarchical album folders and new searching tools were hot ticket items as were the advanced image editing capabilities like Saturation, Tint, Temperature, and Sharpness controls. The RAW-photo format compatibility made some of our Digital Imaging experts very happy as well. In fact, if you want to dig deeper into the new features of iPhoto 5, come to the Digital Imaging SIG meeting later this month for a full debriefing.
Clark didn't have enough time to demo the new features of iMovie HD, iDVD, and GarageBand, but don't worry, he'll be back at our April Main Meeting for a full hour of GarageBand. Thanks Clark! If iMovie and iDVD are what you're looking to focus on, check out an upcoming Digital Video SIG meeting for all the details.
Don't say we didn't give you plenty of notice about the killer raffle prizes either. Lots of people walked away with great stuff this month. Allan Swensson won OmniWeb, Joyce Schowalter and Mike Grueter won OmniGraffle, curtis snow won OmniOutliner, and Hugh Kelso won iLife '05 and a really cool dBug optical mouse. See you next month for GarageBand in-depth and our first look at the Mac mini!