Balsamiq Roadmap for 2010

This is part two of a two-part post about what happened in 2009 and our plans for 2010. We did this last year as well, it's becoming somewhat of a tradition! ;)

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.

Re-using Controls

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 features

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!

Company Changes

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.

Challenges

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? ;)

Community

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.

Parting thoughts

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! :)

Onward!
Peldi

Comments (11)

  1. Very excited about the web app; and, hoping I can talk you into making it easily embeddable in other apps!

    [Peldi: that's what the myBalsamiq APIs will be for! You are GOOD! ;)]

  2. I love reading your roadmaps. Although I really liked the whiteboard one last time, a level of agile that is to be dreamed of.

    Good luck in 2010 I, one of many others, love using your products, helping guide your products to maturity with our comments and seeing your success.

    [Peldi: hi Kevin! The official roadmap is still on the whiteboard, that's where I copied it from! ;)]

  3. Hi Peldi, great to see the “components” thing being implemented.

    I also like the flow of pages as seen in the myBalsamiq web app: do you think you will implement the concept of “project” in the desktop app as well?

    Hope to see you at the ALT.NET Conference in Milano.
    Simo

    [Peldi: Hi Simone! Yes the plan is to bring the Projects feature to the Desktop later this year as well, and implement "auto-magic" sync between the Desktop and the web app (if you have a web app account). So much fun stuff to do! :)]

  4. 2010 seems like a great year! :)

    If fact, all the things you cited are in my wishlist. :D

  5. Great Job! Can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

    BTW: Tab order… Is there a way you can remember the tab order if I close mockups and reload the set?

    [That should be happening, is it not? We'll take a look]

  6. I’m so happy for you. What a success! I just love your product and will continue to support it the best way I can.

    I also like your openness and your transparency. The formula that works :-)

  7. Hey,

    using your software for more than a year now, I really enjoy to read about the success and the great open, easy going communication you’ve established with users.

    I’d love to have a much tighter integration with Napkee, it’s one of the features I missed terribly in BM – and that could significantly speed up the product dev cycle. Hope you meet your goals, and do some sort of M&A with them.

    My two-cent thoughts about the pricing (hope that’s not too cheeky of me), if you break down new features into paid for modules (9.99$) you could send out a very basic (& cheaper) version to users (49.99$ ish thingie) and then let users diversify into different populations, as well as diversify your development focus (iPhone controllers pack for 9.99$, Napkee add-on for 19.99$ etc)
    I think it’s a more personalized direction for BM, but also potentially more revenue generating one.
    The headache of migrating users from one license to the other is a major drag though :-)

    To sum it up – you are doing a great great job, and I’ll be watching the new updates and using the software with great pleasure.
    Have a great 2010, and may you hit thrice your stretch-goals :-)

  8. Balsamiq is excellent, but you know what would be really innovative? If you could find a way to open source Balsamiq while still running a great, successful business! Yes, it may be a pipe dream, but just keep an open mind of a minute: going open source could appeal the the incredible ecosystem of free and open source projects in need of a wireframing tool like Balsamiq. Once this community starts using Balsamiq as it de facto wireframing tool, they will think of amazing ways to extend and improve it, and soon you will have a community of hundreds of people fixing bugs and submitting new, completely implemented features for your consideration. Think you could handle something like that? Of course, you would still sell licenses for the downloadable, compiled AIR app, wiki plugins, and template library.

  9. Hi Peldi – Your plans for this year are really exciting. It is amazing how far and fast Balsamiq has come in a relatively short amount of time. I still have the little bottle of balsamic you sent me back in the early days! You are proof that talent, hard work and being a nice guy is an unbeatable combination. Best wishes for you, your family and company in 2010.

  10. What’s the ETA for the myBalsamiq web-app?

    Alamgir Kahn
  11. Pingback: Interview with Giacomo Guilizzoni, founder of Balsamiq Studios » paul olyslager

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