New Release: Balsamiq Mockups 1.5
I am extremely pleased to announce the immediate availability of Balsamiq Mockups version 1.5.
This is a FREE upgrade for all Mockups versions.
This release introduces the #1 most requested feature and a host of other productivity enhancements which should make Mockups more flexible, powerful and hopefully even more fun to use.
Revamped intro video:
Themes of this release
- The new Image Import feature, for logos, photos, custom controls and even templates!
- I added some new control types and customization enhancements, including a really powerful new Data Grid.
- Mockups fits better in your flow with native Printing, export PNG to clipboard, export all PNGs, partial XML export, full screen view and other enhancements
- Mockups is even faster and more powerful, thanks to more keyboard shortcuts, configuration options and some "magic" features!
- Lots and lots of bug fixes and little usability enhancements here and there
This has been the #1 most requested feature from day one, and it's the first one that was designed with the help of the wonderful Mockups community using Mockups coupled with the GetSatisfaction forums: you can read everyone's excellent feedback here: "Help me design the import image feature".
Here's a quick overview video of how to use the feature and what it enables:
I like this feature because it's simple to use and yet very powerful, enabling a number of use-cases which were previously impossible with Mockups. For instance:
- improving an existing interface: take a screenshot of the current UI and import it into Mockups to tweak or use as reference, like this:
- you can import images of custom icons or custom control types, like this:
- advanced feature: since images are linked in and not embedded, you can use the image import feature to create "master slides" and component templates, as shown in the video below:
I realize it's a bit tricky, but I think this is an advanced use-case so I think it's OK, at least for now.
Aside from the Image control, you can also embed images in the Cover Flow component (as seen in the video at the top).
I can't wait to see how you use this feature!
Version 1.5 includes new control types like Arrows, Multiline Button, and Fieldset / Group.
A few existing controls were ehanced with multi-line support, like checkboxes, radio buttons, callouts and tooltips.
Also, the ComboBox has a multiline feature: if you only type one line of text in a ComboBox, you'll just see the regular, closed combo. If instead you type more than one line of text, the ComboBox's pulldown will appear with your content in it. Magic! 🙂
Other enhancements are the ability to not have anything selected in the Button Bar control and to type and resize the Date Chooser control.
Data grid power!
The Data Grid / Table became even more powerful in this release:
You can now toggle the header row, specify two colors for the rows, the row height, whether the grid should have horizontal and/or vertical lines, and use text shortcuts such as  and [x] to display checkboxes and () and (o) to display radio buttons in the grid.
I think these enhancements alone will allow you to use Mockups for a lot more types of interfaces than before.
Mockups 1.5 introduces a number of features designed to make Mockups integrate better in your daily work without disrupting your flow.
- you can now export an image snapshot directly to your clipboard instead of just to a file: this lets you paste your mockups into Word or Powerpoint documents and other applications directly
- you can export snapshots of all the mockups you are working on with one click with the new "Export All Snapshots to PNG" feature
- if you want to overwrite the same PNG file over and over, you have an option to do so:
- Partial XML export: you can already import a mockup into another with the Import feature, but now you can also select which controls to export. This will make it much easier to create a library of common mockup elements for reuse:
- Native Printing from Mockups for Desktop, making it the ultimate paper-prototyping tool!
- Full Screen View: ideal for presenting UI Mockups to your clients or team - it removes all distractions, centers your mockup on the screen and gives you a big blue arrow pointer to discuss various UI elements.
The following features have two things in common: they are nearly invisible (barely any new UI was added for them) while at the same time giving you more power and speed when creating your mockups.
- Paste In Place (CTRL+SHIFT+V)
- Nudge-resize: CTRL+ALT+arrow keys to resize the selection 2 pixels at the time, add SHIFT to resize 20 pixels at the time
- CTRL+Enter will commit multiline text, no need to click outside of the control any more (and remember, ENTER starts the editing as well as F2 and double-clicking already)
- Right-Click over a locked control to unlock it (no need to "unlock all"!)
- Right-Click over a file tab in Mockups for Desktop to Save / Close / Clone the selected mockup, or create a new one:
- you can select multiple files in the "Open Mockup" dialog
- for those rare times where you need something "pixel-perfect", you can now specify the position and size of the selection in the property inspector:
clicking on the position and size numbers makes them editable:
the format is "X,Y WxH" or, spelled out "x position COMMA y position SPACE width LETTER X height, all in pixels"
- Auto-magic lorem-ipsum generator: just type "lorem" (all lowercase) in any Paragraph or Text Area control and you'll get a chunk of lorem-ipsum text pre-filled for you: magic!
- A configuration file: BalsamiqMockups.cfg is a simple XML file that lets you specify, among other things, which font face to use for your mockups. Ehm, are you Comic Sans MS haters happy now? 😉 See instructions here on how to set it up on your system.
- A log file: BalsamiqMockups.log is a simple text file containing the output of command-line runs of Mockups for Desktop. See details here.
As always, you can see the full list of supported keyboard shortcuts here.
- This is the most important one and I cannot take any credit for it: drag and drop from the UI Library now works on Linux! The fix comes for free when you install Adobe AIR 1.5. This should bring the linux version up to par with the Mac and Windows version, which is a nice feeling. Go Ubuntu!
- You might notice that the color that denotes selection is not as bright and attention-grabbing as before.
- In the Desktop version, the tabs at the bottom shrink so that they all fit even if you have lots of Mockups open.
- Tree controls take less room.
- Lots of other little things I cannot even remember...I hope you'll notice them a little bit at the time.
Thank you so much!
I may say that I am a one-person development team, but it sure doesn't feel that way. This release was truly a collaborative effort. Most of the new features and bug fixes came directly from you, and were designed and discussed together on GetSatisfaction coupled with Mockups. I'll write another post just on how well those two work together, but for now you should at least take a look at the Help me Design the Import Image Feature thread if you haven't.
There are a few people whom I'd like to thank in particular:
- Michael Bourque - Mr.GetSatisfaction! Michael is behind many of the ideas that ended up in 1.5 and you probably all have had your questions answered by him on the forums before I could even get to them.
- Adam Wride - I can safely say that the JIRA plugin wouldn't have existed without him, and you should all be thankful for his willingness to always test the latest version and find bugs before they get to you.
- Noel Gomez - the "generous marketing genius". The many emails he sent me are filled with practical tips to make my website, screencasts and product better for everyone. I am so thankful.
- Michael Matti - I know I thanked him for his help in 1.1 back in July, but Michael has stuck with me and continues to be an invaluable resource of ideas and bug reports, what a friend!
- Riel Roussopoulos - Riel posted a ton of feature ideas and bug reports on GetSatisfaction, and is the reason behind the new configuration file. His video card software doesn't play well with Adobe AIR, and it took us 3 days to figure that one out. Thanks for your patience Riel!
- David Miranda - I'll blog about this separately, but you should know that David redesigned my website in his spare time and donated his new design to me, just out of the goodness of his heart. I have started incorporating some elements of his design already, and lots more is coming.
- Vince Samios - Vince is part of "The Manchester Mob", a group of marketing and SEO experts in the UK. I have a couple of emails from him sitting in my inbox with feedback on how to improve my site and product, and I can't wait until I have some time to go through them and implement them. It's such good stuff!
- M.B. - M. is the brilliant Italian software engineer behind the "Sketch it!" feature of 1.5. I contracted him thinking it would take a couple of weeks and it was done in 8 hours. I hope to be able to reveal his name to you in 2009.
I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, brilliant and generous people. This is truly something I did not expect when I started Balsamiq, and something that really warms my heart. For instance, look at the 115 Mockups Fans on Facebook, this is such an awesome global community! 🙂
You are the people I write software for, thanks for pushing me and helping me make it as good as it can be.
Oh, where to start. I have cleared the next few days to deal with whatever unexpected fire might flare up, then it's Christmas, also known as "the best time for coding", so I might start attacking the tough features of 2.0 like "double-click to edit groups", "add control packs support" (for iPhone, Facebook and other UI control types) and of course "linking mockups together", the main feature of 2.0. I am also working with Michael Bourque on a "Mockups Community Server" wiki where people can share and critique each other's mockups.
Additionally, I have 6 (yes, SIX) more integrations in the pipeline for Mockups (other enterprise wikis, bug tracking and content management systems), which should keep me busy through the spring.
Today is the six-month anniversary of launching Balsamiq...so far it's been an incredible journey. I can't wait to see what the future will bring, I hope you'll want to stick around for it! 🙂