Balsamiq Roadmap for 2010
By the way, thanks so much for all the support and nice words you sent us after yesterday's post. All this attention is a little overwhelming but it's a great motivator to continue to give it all we've got, so thank you! :)
I am beyond excited about 2010, I think it will definitely be a key year for us.
First of all, let's talk about the features we KNOW we MUST deliver in 2010.
The ability to re-use pieces of mockups across your wireframes is our current #1 shortcoming, and our top requested feature on GetSatisfaction.
I have put it off in 2009 (here's our FAQ about it) because I considered it an advanced feature and needed to get some basic features done first, but the more I use Mockups, the more I feel the need to support it.
Some people call it templates, others call it "master pages". We are calling them "external controls" for now, which is a much more flexible way to do it.
Basically the idea is that you'll be able to take a group and convert it into an external control, saved on its own file (in your "project assets" or "account assets" folder). When you make a change to that file, each mockup that uses it will (optionally) get the updates.
You'll be able to drag and drop these kind of controls straight from the UI library, resize them and set some of their properties, just like any of the built-in controls.
You'll be able to create libraries of these controls to share with your team and others.
The wireframes on MockupsToGo will also be converted into this kind of reusable, external control.
Very exciting stuff. We'll start work on it in early February.
The Web App
We're putting the finishing touches on version 1.0 of the web app, which is called myBalsamiq. It will have projects, commenting, super-easy sharing, real-time-collaboration, RSS feeds, the goods!
Here's a couple of screenshots to whet your appetite:
The beta is still closed at the moment, so please don't ask us for access quite yet. We'll post here when we have anything to share.
Switching to Player 10, Air 1.5
Flash Player 10 is now on more than 90% of computers worldwide, so we can finally switch to requiring it.
Aside from being a lot faster than player 9, it will enable us to add the following cool features:
* properly embedding a font! Bye bye Comic Sans!
* upping the maximum mockup size from 2800x2800 to 4095x4095 pixels
* vertical text! (for labels and tabs)
* Right-To-Left language support
* better printing
* spell check!
We're going to spend the next couple of weeks thoroughly testing Mockups on Flash Player 10 and Air 1.5, to make sure there are no surprises. Once the switch is made, we'll start going through the list above. Yay!
Also, Air 2.0 is coming, and it's FAST! Mockups will feel A LOT snappier...you can try out the beta of it already if you like.
A new skin
Mariah's hand-drawings have served us really well this far, and I still love them. They do have a strong character though, they're instantly recognizable and are a bit too playful for some people.
We've heard from many of you that you'd like to have a cleaner, more professional skin to show your wireframes to your more "old-school" clients. :)
In 2010 we'll add such a skin...it will still be "sketch-like", but much much cleaner. We're very excited about it and hope you'll like it too!
The plan is to let you choose your favorite skin from a menu item.
I have the feeling that this seemingly little feature will really take Mockups to a new level.
Other important features are the abilty to rearrange tabs via drag+drop (this is pretty much ready, try it now in the pre-release version!), the "Toggle Markup" feature, the ability to only export the selected controls to PNG, the in-product "check for updates" feature, and others.
Longer term, we want to publish a set of APIs so that others can integrate myBalsamiq with their own back-end system. Aside from the technical challenge, there are some licensing issues to think about...this will be challenging but also very cool, I can't wait. I suspect we'll start to really think about this in the 2nd half of the year (gotta give the web app some time to mature first!)
We might also add another wiki integration ourselves this year...Jive Clearspace and Mindtouch are the front-runners in my mind, the ones that seem to have a community of commercial plugin vendors starting to form around them. We shall see. Let us know what you think!
Other than that, we have tons and tons of little- and medium-sized improvements to do, our TODO list in Pivotal is ENORMOUS! Fun stuff, we'll be busy this year! :)
I hesitate to even write this, but towards the end of the year we might start thinking about our next product...we have lots of ideas and one clear front-runner...but I don't really want to think about it quite yet, Mockups needs our full attention right now!
The best part of doing so well in 2009 is that we can now afford to expand our team a bit, filling out the roster, so to speak.
We have TWO AWESOME hires lined up, we'll announce each very soon. I'm SO thrilled at the thought of working with them every day and all that we'll be able to accomplish together! I don't want to say more yet even if I'm dying to! :)
As we grow in staff, we'll also grow as a company. We just set up our 401k contribution plan and are looking into providing health insurance for our US employees. We'll also start having some internal company policies (sounds more formal than it will be), which we'll definitely share with you on this blog to get your feedback on.
I would also love for everyone at Balsamiq to blog more...we are learning so much, it would be a shame not to share it all with you.
Financially, my goal is to reach $2M in revenue, with a stretch goal of $2.5M. That seems like an enormous number right now, we'll see.
I feel that Mockups (the product) and Balsamiq (the company) are both going through their teens right now. No longer little kids, but not yet mature adults.
In other words, these are turbulent, transformative months, when we decide what kind of adults we want to become.
I hope to be up to the task of steering this ship in the right direction...luckily I am surrounded by great advisers, staff and blogs to help along the way. If you see us make a bad move, tell us! OK? Thanks. :)
My job will have to change once again, delegating more and spending more time communicating internally (making sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing) and externally (talking to partners etc)...more of a managerial role than I've been doing so far. I will continue to make an effort to keep my hands in the code, as that's really my passion and what I'm best at.
As a company we'll have to start acting a bit more grown-up, meaning a better website (more updated, easier to navigate, cleaner-looking), as well as standardizing how we deal with partners, resellers and also optimizing our internal processes more.
As the product matures a bit, I suspect we'll have time to look at metrics a bit more...I've been heads down in features right now, totally ignoring anything other than what I KNEW had to be done. Do it first, optimize it later, know what I mean? ;)
The community that formed around Mockups fills us with pride and joy, so we want to help it grow and help its members be successful even more.
For instance, that means giving them ways to make money off of us, by selling external control packs, or simply by us starting an affiliate program.
We'll also continue to share everything we learn through this blog and by speaking at conferences. As I mentioned in the previous post, we'll also want to support some more blogs, events, groups and podcasts this year, via sponsorships or discounts.
Last but not least, we will continue to support the efforts of non-profits and do-gooders around the world. Our goal is to give away as much as we take in, we'll see how we do on that front.
I think the recipe for 2010 is the same we've had from the start: work hard, stay true to our values, be proud of what we do every day, provide as much value as we can, and have fun! :)