Account Assets are gone


#7

Just as an example, I created a template where I just “sucked in” all the icon files I regularly share across projects - they are 128x128px PNG files based on FontAwesome that are available for download. Some of the images are duplicated with different names since FontAwesome uses aliases when used as a web font (e.g., the same image is saved as “icon_gear” and “icon_cog”). The result is 515 individual asset files.

The first thing that happened was that when I selected all 515 file the application crashed.

After going through and selecting in alphabetical batches (so all the images named icon_a* followed by icon_b*, etc.) the size of my otherwise blank template file is 2.87Mb. On the other hand, if I just select the BMML files for a few of my existing B2 project folders they come in at just 1.43Mb, 1.14Mb, 957kb.

Next I started from the template and imported just the BMML files from the project that came in at 957kb. This also brought in one image asset that is 433kb. The final project file size: 4.21 Mb. This is slightly less than if I simply added together the size of the blank template, the BMML files and the image asset (which is 4.26), but consider now that each and every project file has at least an additional 2.80Mb hanging off it, even though I would never use all 515 icons.

Now you might say that I could always delete the icons I don’t use, but since it appears I can only send assets to the trash one at a time, even if I used 25 or 30 unique icons, it would still be incredibly tedious to delete upwards of 480 individual icon asset files.


#8

I use symbols as a form of reusable design pattern language. It’s talked about a little in the Balsamiq Champions interview that Leon did back in 2013 (http://blogs.balsamiq.com/champions/2013/05/28/jenni-merrifield/)


#9

What if we improved the native icon set? Then you wouldn’t have to import any custom icons…or only a few…thoughts?


#10

Well, one reason I use the FontAwesome based icons is that there are so many individual images available, so improving the native set certainly wouldn’t hurt. They have a lot of images that you might not initially think would be needed yet I’ve found myself taking an image ostensibly meant for one thing and using it to represent something else.

That wouldn’t help me with the need to keep shared Symbols in sync issues though.


#11

Yes, improving the native icon set is certainly very welcome but it wouldn’t help me completely, either.

I work in a in-house design team and use Balsamiq for many many
projects. All these projects have some common and very unique (= product
specific) icons and other UI elements. They were just there for me once
I placed them to Account Assets folder. Now… I can’t imagine having a
single resource file containing all the needed custom assets (and
icons!) and… duplicating it all the time.


#12

I agree that improving the basic iconset would be nice, but there will always be the need for custom icons.

Speaking for my situation, we currently use about 600 small icons (16x16 icon_.png) to use inside trees, buttons, lists, tabs. We also have about 200 large icons (*.png) to use as watermarks or thumbnails. Since they are very specific to our products, there is no way for them to become part of a basic iconset. Our small icons are front facing and our large icons use a 3D perspective, that’s why we need separate images.

If we use your strategy to copy all those assets over and over inside all our project files, we will waste a huge amount of disk space.

Here is a suggestion:

  1. Keep the old global assets folder as a repository
  2. As soon as you insert an asset from that folder, it will get copied in the project’s assets.

Therefore, you still have access to your huge library but you grow your project file on demand. That way, if a project uses 15 icons from the global assets, only those 15 will get incorporated inside the project file.

And if I need to change a global asset, then I can live with the minor pain of re-incorporating in inside the projects that are using it.

To summarize: Use a global assets folder as an import repository. As soon as you add something, it becomes a local asset.

Cheers!


#13

It would be great if you could make Font Awesome a native part of the app. Personally, that has everything I need and because it is used with Bootstrap, it’s doubly useful.


#14

Have to agree that making it possible to somehow include and select icons from web fonts would be an awesome “nice to have”. One advantage of this over requiring the import of PNG files is the reduction in file size (one font file is going to be way smaller than 250 PNG files at 128x128px). Another is the “perfect resizability” of a vector font.


#15

I love this idea and have put it on my list to investigate it further. One drawback so far is that those icons are not very “sketchy”…but if you guys use them already, maybe it doesn’t matter much? Right now we have two sets of icons, one for each skin.


#16

There are some other icon fonts with sketchy looks - for example: Jolly Icons and Dot Com. If the system let you “install” and use any web font for icons then it would be up to the user whether to go with sketchy or not-so-sketchy icons. :slight_smile:

Out of curiosity, how are your current icon sets maintained? Are they implemented like a font?


#17

For me the main thing is also just wanting to always have “our” icon library available. Built-in access to existing icon libraries would be nice, but your current support for importing custom icons is the right direction.

The project template file idea is workaround, but a clumsy one in real life: You have to remember to always start by duplicating that file, rather than just opening Balsamiq. Or - if you open the template directly - you have to remember to “save as” immediately, otherwise your changes will pollute the template.

One solution might be to elevate the concept of a template document, the way Word and Excel do. Opening the template would be like creating a new project and would force you to “save as” rather than saving over the template. It wouldn’t have to be a separate file type - could be something as simple as a convention that files with the word “template” in the filename are treated as such.

The obvious next step would be to allow users to choose a default template to use any time you start a new project (which you can also do with Word and Excel). This template could live on my own drive, in a Dropbox folder, or on a shared drive.


#18

Specifically on the question of whether it matters that font awesome icons are not so sketchy. For me, it has not been an issue, probably because icons are quite small, so the overall mockup still has a sketchy look.

One of the advantages of working with a web font is that I can be very specific with my suggestions. Every project is different of course, but on some projects, I’m feeding projects directly to developers, and they are very happy when I can tell them “use this EXACT icon from font awesome here”.


#19

I didn’t test this, but can’t you set the read-only flag of the file system? Mockups should ask you for a new name for the project.


#20

I use account assets to load Font Awesome icons, I’m also the maintainer of a small project that makes it easy to download them with instructions on how to use them in Balsamiq.

I think it’s a big loss if you have to set them up for every project you start (almost 3 mb of files) every time you start.

I can see the downsides with the current implementation though, the files don’t live in your project and if you share a mockup that person will probably miss your custom account assets. Also reducing complexity in your code base is worth something :smile:

I guess I’m +1 for improving the default icons, my use case for using FA is the larger number of available icons, plus that they translate easily as we also use FA in our application.


#21

Hey Dennis – off topic (sorry everyone) – but I wanted to say a big public thank you for creating and maintaining this awesome FA for Balsamiq project. It has been very useful for me!


#22

+1 to what @MikeH said - I use that same version of the FA icons for Balsamiq. :smile:


#23

I just discovered that importing assets and symbol libraries is much easier in B3. Okay, you’ve got to do it on a per-project basis (or once, and then clone that project), but the act of importing is much easier.

I just dragged and dropped a BMML file into the app (with “symbols” selected in the resources panel) and B3 imported all the symbols. Then, with “assets” selected, I dragged and dropped in a few hundred PNG icon files, and B3 quickly imported them too. Nice. :smile:


#24

So cool! :sunglasses:

Thank to @MikeH for trying this and posting how works. (Of course, you can also select multiple assets or symbol files when using the file browser option, but having drag and drop work when the correct panel is shown is a really nice little shortcut feature.)


#25

Just wanted to add my cents on how I use(d) account assets. Basically I work on a single application/website and saved standard features as account level symbols. For example the header, footer, sidebars, and other elements that I use often. These don’t change very often, but when they do, I want to be sure I’m using the latest and greatest. At the account level that means that at any time I grab the FCHeader it’ll be the “right” header. And if I go back and edit a past wireframe, I can update the header symbol quickly. (This avoids developers getting confused and thinking I’m trying to change the header). I did also have a couple icons in there (based off our products icons), but I’m working on training the developers that the icon in the wireframe is not meant to be the design, so I took them all out.

We do also have a shared wireframe template that we use, which we ended up saving the “new” way by having an project assets folder that I grab before I start a new project. This allows me to update, say, the date on the project without worrying that when I reprint an older wireframe, the date will be wrong. But it means that if I try and make a global change to the template, I have to remember that it won’t be in older versions (which is fine) and make sure I grab the newest version for my new wireframe (which i’m not quite as good about doing yet).

Both have their pros and cons, but for saved symbols, I really liked having it at the account level so I don’t have multiple version of a similar symbols file and I always knew it was the correct one.


#26

Like the others, I also use account assets to import FontAwesome icons and use them instead of the default icons. I have nothing to add to this convo, but just wanted to let you know there are people besides those who’ve already replied who do that exact same thing.

I also work on my company’s intranet, and I do so frequently enough that I have the header and footer for the intranet as account assets.

Perhaps you could speak to FontAwesome and just make those icons the default icons?