Balsamiq Mockups 3 is the result of nearly a year of heads-down coding to create the product that our customers have been asking for and the product we wanted for ourselves.
The most noticeable changes are the two “biggies” that people have asked for since the very beginning: Support for projects (bundled files, multiple windows) and getting rid of that “floating property thingy” (the property inspector).
But just as important was the work that was done under the hood to make it faster and smarter and the little tweaks across every part of the experience that we hope will make using it even better.
In this article you’ll find information about how to update, what’s new and, of course, how to import your Mockups 2 BMML files. If you are new to Balsamiq Mockups or want to dive deeper after reading this article you can head over to the documentation table of contents or application overview next.
Here’s a quick 5-minute video walkthrough of some of the highlights of version 3.
How to Update
Balsamiq Mockups 3 is the most current version of our powerful editor. If you are using any of our web apps, it will update automatically. If you want to use it on the Desktop, you can grab the latest version from our download page. It’s a free update for existing customers, you won’t even need to re-register.
Balsamiq Mockups 3 for Desktop will run side-by-side with Balsamiq Mockups 2 for Desktop (as a separate application) so no need to uninstall your current version to use it. See below for how to import Mockups 2 BMML files.
While it has been rigorously tested, if you find any bugs or issues, tell us about it!
What’s New in Balsamiq Mockups 3
In a word, lots! Here are the “highlights” you should know about:
- A new user interface
- Easier look and feel customization
- Better Symbols
- Better icons
- Better images and assets
- Full screen mode
Finally. Not only can you have separate windows for different groups of mockups, but all the “stuff” that belongs to a project (mockups, symbols, images, icons) is in ONE file. This makes it much easier to send and move files and keep everything together.
A New User Interface
Gone is the annoying flying property inspector! Now you have mockups on the left and properties on the right. Simple, predictable and quick. The UI Library is at the top where it’s always been but now it’s a bit more compact.
You can toggle the properties panels and UI Library independently by clicking the icons next to the Quick Add box or via keyboard shortcuts.
And, of course, you can hide all panels using the icons for each panel, getting you into Zen-like wireframing nirvana.
Getting around and performing common actions is easy with the icons in the toolbar.
- Navigate between Mockups, Assets, Symbols and Trash views
- Show/Hide the left panel
- View your mockups as a thumbnail grid
- Create a new mockup
- Mockup actions (rename, etc.) and navigate between mockups (shown when left panel is hidden)
- Go to next or previous mockup (shown when left panel is hidden)
Easier Look and Feel Customization
Control over the font used in Mockups has been one of the most-requested features since the very beginning. Custom fonts were previously available using a complicated configuration file, but we now allow you to set a project font in the new Project Info panel. Yes, you can now easily use any font you have installed in your mockups. Rejoice! You can also set a default size for it.
We also moved the skin switching options into the new Project Info panel to make them more obvious (many people never knew about our wireframe skin). Finally, the default selection color is also configurable from this new panel.
In the previous version, we called Symbols an “advanced feature.” Well, no longer. Symbols are now for everyone. Symbols allow you to create templates, masters, and other reusable components to save time and ensure consistency. They are especially useful for big projects and custom controls and are central to our Wireframes To Go site.
You can now just jump over to the Symbols panel and create a new one from scratch and it will appear in the “Symbols” tab in the UI Library. You can still create them the old-fashioned way (creating a named group and clicking the “Convert To Symbol” button).
We also now show Symbols as a list inside their Symbol Library, so you can more easily navigate between them and know which Symbol you’re editing.
Finally, we make it much easier to import Symbols. Just click the “Import Symbol Library” icon and select the file to import.
Big changes here.
First of all, icons now have their own category in the UI Library so you can drag and drop them just like any other control.
Not only that, they show up in the Quick Add results, saving you time when searching by name or keyword.
Icon search results are shown below any UI controls that match the text you enter.
And you’ll quickly notice that we have a completely different set of icons than the previous version. We switched our icons over to the incredibly popular Font Awesome icon set. This means that there are now over 500 icons pre-installed.
Better Images and Assets
There is now a dedicated area for images and other imported assets, accessible from the navigator menu.
You can add images to your project without placing them in your mockups first. Click the “Import Asset…” icon to add a file from your computer or the “Download Asset…” icon to add an image from Flickr or the web. Or just drag an image onto the canvas from your computer.
You can also delete, rename, replace and download images from the context menu in the panel.
New Full Screen Mode
The same options are still there but we’ve overhauled the experience to make it better for usability testing and presentations. We also got rid of the problem where mockups would “jump around” in full screen mode.
When no controls are selected you’ll see a place to add notes in the Properties panel. You can add notes for your Project, Mockups, Assets, Symbol Libraries and individual Symbols and they will be saved as part of the project.
Balsamiq Mockups 3 now has a trash for mockups, assets, and Symbols you have deleted. This makes it easy to keep your project tidy as you make progress but still allows you to browse or recover earlier concepts.
To recover a trashed object from the Trash panel click the context menu arrow and select “Restore.” You also have the option to delete permanently.
Alternates (also sometimes referred to as versions or branches) allow you to create variations on a single mockup design without adding more mockups to your project. Read the full documentation here.
Yes, built-in background music to help you get into your creative zone! Check out the blog post for more details.
What’s not New
For the most part, we left experience of adding, arranging and editing controls the same, so it should be familiar if you are coming from the previous version.
We hope all these changes are welcome and that Balsamiq Mockups 3 still feels like the application you’ve come to know and love, but better! If you have any thoughts or feedback, please let us know!
Importing Mockups 2 BMML Files
Balsamiq Mockups 3 has a new file format to accommodate support for projects but you can easily import your old files.
To convert your existing project folders or ZIP files into BMPR files, just head to the Project > Import menu.
Select what you’d like to import and your old files will be imported and a new BMPR file will be created.