The idea of using OmniGraffle for page layout is a tad perverse. It could be expanded to sucha role, but I think it's in Omni's best interests to create a focus use here. Likewise, I think Create has and needs a similar focus, and I believe we're just talking about how to express that, and get the word out. I've heard Andrew explain this focus before. Maybe something in these pages and examples we're talking about should express this as well, not just leave it implied that is.
I don't mind the idea of having these tool/info panels "attach" to one another, so long as they can unattach, and do these things in a simple way. Omni's method is fine if a bit overwrought to me if people think panel clutter is an issue. I sort of abhor windowshade, but disclosure triangles to collapse and reveal content might be a good idea if enough people need the space.
I just think there's a law of diminishing returns by locking a bunch of this stuff together. An app wth a lot of features like Create is going to have to balance information vs. content and flexibility vs. clutter. I think, as others have said, this becomes more of an issue on smaller screens since you don't or can't just leave up the panels where you like and go about your business. The irony is that on a smaller monitor, panels look more cluttered because they cover content and have to be shuffled with the document window, however locking panels together on a small screen can make them difficult to reach.
I don't know if there's much of the OpenStep UI left in Create, really. The only thing that's like OpenStep is the Inspector (renamed as Info), and frankly I think that's the best thing going for Create. Otherwise, people might not be comfortable with some Cocoa behaviors versus some old Mac OS ones, some details between Cocoa and Carbon apps that haven't been made consistent up yet. I know MacWorld some years ago gave the Stone Studio a raw deal because the reviewer had issues with things like text behavior, but that's just a reflection of Cocoa and the way things are going. Back then, OS X was new and this person obviously was expecting a Classic-like app. I don't know why MacWorld hasn't gotten back to reviewing Create 12 yet. We should take up the cause with the review web sites and magazines as much as anyone!
As far as how Create compares to other apps, most other layout apps are either the cookie-cutter variety (Print Shop, Protraits and Prints, etc.) or they're for press workflows. To me, Create gives me more flexibility and power than the color-by-numbers approach and doesn't give me the hassle of pre-press layout apps that expect pre-flight and all sorts of bells and whistles between layout and printing. I'm either printing at home or I'm saving PDFs and TIFFs and walking them in to a shop, zipped up and ready to go.
As far as illustration, Create is a more obvious kind of tool. In other apps, the set of tools is complex because of feature bloat, effects are often handled in to or three different places, and there are these abstracted tools that can confound the user when they first start using them. For example, some apps have it that you can draw shapes, but no default properties or effects are assigned to them. Good for pros, but how many people first uxsed Illustrator and wondered why the shapes would diappear when they delected them. It's because they didn't even have aline effect assigned to them!
There are features and ways of working with lines and shapes in other apps that Create doesn't provide, most of which I don't ever bother with (though I have a few tools I'd like to see someday). In all, Create is just what people say about it. It has about 80% of the features of other more expensive illustration/drawing apps, and those are the features you use about 95% of the time. If I were to give any critique of Create as an illustration app, it might be that it follows the conventions of most other illustration apps. Though it thankfully lacks the obscure features that can weigh down on the user, it could forge a few of its own features to differentiate itself. (Of course, I say that with specific things in mind, so I have something of an agenda.
I've only tinkered with web layout so far. The one really important thing I like about Create in this respect is that it's basically a layout app that can publish to html. Other web tools are either their own beasts or, like GoLive, are basically an entire extra process in the assembly line. That's one thing I was trying to get across in the cutesy image above, that web publishing is truly done in the same place as the layout, not just some exporting feature or another pipe to go down. So the Safari/web page image is on
the Create logo, not just being pointed to from the logo. The three things I think that throw people a bit with web layout inside Create are
1. the need to track or map links in your web site,
2. that tables are often needed to get everything to line up right,
3. that fonts in on a web page, unless you make the text an image, will depend on the end user's configuration, and
4. that web resources can be reused like a kit of parts
People do seem to have the hardest time with web page creation when using the app. However, people are totally lost in other solutions unless it's some cookie-cutter kind of app, like Apple's Homepage. Again, Create is best IMO not to burden itself with the really high-end web management stuff (maybe a link mapping/site map creation before output is a good idea), and not to be so rigid a tool as the formulaic apps.
To me, the only web page app that Create might look to for some comparison is Macromedia's Contribute, and then in a limited role. I say that not because it's better or even along the same vein as Create, but because it advertises one aspect of itself that a lot of people want from a web age creation tool: it's supposed to help you add incremental info like news, blurbs, etc. easily. While creating a web page in Create is nice, a lot of people abandon their web pages because it's apain to update them. In a similar vein, why do we need dedicated blogging apps? They're just cookie-cutter web page makers, but they make it easy to add incrementally to the web page. Most look alike and a lot of people adbandon this because, let's face it, they don't even keep the creator's interest. Couldn't Create be positioned as a more visually flexible web page creation tool where you can easily do incremental text changes and additions too? Seems like the holy grail for a lot of people. I'm not sure there's any great solution out there that bests Create, and create I think can fit the bill nicely here.
Ok, I'll stop babbling now.
[cleaned up and altered some of that.]