Balsamiq Community Discussion

Account Assets are gone

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!

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

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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?

We are working on this right now! Stay tuned… :smile:

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Hello everyone! This morning’s build has a big change in it: our old icons are gone. Instead, we now embed the whole FontAwesome icon set!

This change has a lot of PROs and some CONs. Here’s the way I see it:

PROs:

  • You now have 519 icons (and growing) instead of 222
  • This should ease the pain of no longer having account assets, as a big reason people used account assets was to import big icon sets
  • The look and feel of our old icons got a huge, overdue refresh
  • People like FontAwesome and we want to be associated with awesome things
  • We get out of the tedious work of creating new icons. In fact, even better, if we put more weight behind FontAwesome and new icons get added to it because of our customers, the whole web wins.
  • You now know that the icons used in your wireframes can be used exactly as-is in production, should you choose to
  • The application’s download size actually SHRUNK by 20Kb in the process

CONs:

  • we no longer have a sketchy look and a wireframe look for icons. It’s one single look. I think that’s OK, icons are small after all :smile:
  • converting from B3 to 2.2 won’t work as well, as the new icons don’t have a 2.2 equivalent (no big deal, as most people will go forward, not backwards. If you do try to export from B3 to 2.2, you will see “icon not found” but if you leave it alone importing back to B3 will make the icon reappear)
  • some 2.2 icons don’t have a good equivalent in FontAwesome, so converting from 2.2 to B3 won’t work 100% well. We are talking to Dave of FontAwesome to see if we can contribute some icons fairly quickly.

Please let us know what you think, and if you hit any bugs!

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OMG. This is (Font)Awesome!

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The above said, I’d STILL like to see some way of having “shared” assets so that I don’t have to copy the assets I use over and over into every single project, not to mention making it possible to update a particular asset in one location and have that change propagate across all projects that use it.

Here’s an idea - what if we could link each project to a “master” project and then use any asset stored in the master in the child project.

I’d implement it something like this:

  • When a “master” project is linked, include a “shared” panel for seeing shared assets (images and icons), a “shared” library tab to show shared symbols and a “shared” section in the icon browser.
  • Using any “shared” asset or symbol in a mockup of the child for the first time causes that item to be copied into the child project (the application must track that this is a “shared” asset). The UI marks the thumbnail shown in the “shared” panel or library tab as being “in use”.
  • When a project with a link to a master is first opened, refresh any shared assets in the child with whatever is in the master project.
  • If a shared asset in the child can’t be found in the master, the UI shows the thumbnail in the “shared” panel or tab but marks it as being “missing”.
  • Allow the user to “unlink” any shared asset which moves it to the project asset or symbol panel. If it was “missing”, the thumbnail is removed from the “shared” panel or library tab.
  • Allow the user to remove the linked master, converting all shared assets into project assets.
  • Allow the user to change the master file, letting them choose between transferring existing shared assets shared to the new master (so they will be updated if the same assets are stored in the new master) or turning them into project assets.
  • If a linked master can’t be found, present a dialog allowing the user to search for and link a new file, choose to remove the reference to the master file or leave the master file and existing shared assets as is. In the later case, the “shared” panels and library tabs show the thumbnails for the shared assets in the project. The whole panel or tab should be marked to indicate that the original master is unavailable.

The advantage of something like this is that it means you don’t have to figure out how to reintroduce externally shared assets but those of us who frequently reuse the same assets across projects have an easy way to maintain and share them.

This is even an improvement over B2’s shared asset feature because then, if you wanted to send your BMML file to someone else, you also had to send them a zip file with all the account assets you used and tell them where to place them on their system. Now, you can just send them the main file and they can open it successfully because all the assets are already in the project or you can also send them just one more file (the master file) and it doesn’t matter where they put it because they will have the opportunity to reconnect it when they open the child file.

I think I’d also store the location for the master as a relative path unless that isn’t possible (e.g., because it’s on a different drive). Or perhaps let the user choose between relative and absolute, as the former makes it easier to deal with when project related files are stored in close proximity and the later makes it easier for different people to share a master on a network drive.

I’d love to hear what you think about this as a possible solution.

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The key is to use my own large library without copying assets every time. The proposed workaround to create a blank project with all assets would be a huge waste of disk space.

Your concept of linking projects to offer modification of the shared asset is a good idea. This would work for me.

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Seeing as B3 has gone live, I’m wondering whether there’s any consideration being given to making it possible to share resources in some way? This is a feature of B2 that I’m really missing!

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Hi Jenni, I’ve been thinking about it for a while. We have a design we’re discussing internally, hang tight.

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any updates on bringing back the global account assets?

Hi @thomasmf,

We’re still thinking about the best thing to do here, and still assessing how important it is compared to other feature requests. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more news to share. Thank you all for your patience on this.

We may abandon balasmiq due to lack of shared assets. Having copies of these in each design is not an acceptable solution. Is there any potential for introducing a shared library of symbols for B3?

So sorry to hear that @BethCrespo.

This has been on ongoing discussion for us and I’ll make sure to bring this up again during our dev meeting today.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, I’ll keep this thread posted about the direction of this one ASAP.

Just to add another voice to the the conversation: we use the shared account assets with every mockup we create. There are three or four different people creating mockups, and we want them all to look like our user interface standards we have developed. Therefore we have hand-created dozens of symbols and images, including charts, graphs, and backgrounds, so that everyone’s mockups look pretty much the same.

The Font Awesome addition is great, since we use Font Awesome, but we won’t be able to move to the update until we have a way to share assets.

Still, I enjoy using Balsamiq, and I think it’s a great product!

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Thanks Julie

We actually talked about this a little today. The dev team is going to hash out a design that we can talk about - so it’s something we are working on!

Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to share your feedback. We haven’t forgotten about account assets :slight_smile: