Balsamiq Community Discussion

Bugs render an otherwise fine piece of software largely unusable


#1

In the ~40 hours spent with the software I have found it to be easy learn and use as a tool, but largely unusable due to deal-breaker bugs and poor use flow. To name a few:

  1. Symbol libraries become unpredictable. Copying symbols from one mockup to another, within the same project, can trigger an overwrite prompt. Regardless of user response, this results in broken links and misplaced assets. I literally cannot copy symbols from one page to another.

  2. Which leads to the second problem: unprompted, invisible auto-save. This is a horrible idea. Consider the use case of making changes both to mockups and symbols, what happens if I want to revert changes? There isn’t a “revert” button. History isn’t shared across mockups and symbols so there’s certain points when you literally cannot prevent mistakes from overwriting your file permanently.

  3. Quirky restrictions on object scale: I can’t make any element smaller than 10pixels wide. Why?

  4. Quirky object placement behavior: sometimes I will have an object select and cannot nudge it because it repeatedly pops back to its original location.

  5. Cannot undo certain operations in symbols: No matter the change, I should always be permitted to undo it.

  6. Auto-loading last closed file. No thanks. What if I’m working in several projects and have to close down the software in the hope that show-stopper bugs will be resolved on relaunch, or I just happen to close a reference file last. what about Just restoring your session or auto-loading your last saved file. Not saving is a thing that users also do deliberately!

  7. It’s damn slow. every time I want to look at a preview, I have to view it as a PDF due to horrendous performance. Nope, it’s not OK to drop to 5 fps. Whatever you guys are doing for your preview it’s wrong.

  8. Changes to symbols don’t predictably propagate to modified symbols in a mockup and, often, an unedited symbol will fail to update and or fail to show the revert changes button.

  9. Screen centering on nothing when editing symbols: in short, keep the thing in the same place on screen as where I last decided to edit it.

  10. No way of editing symbols in place.

  11. No edit symbol keyboard shortcut.

  12. No way of updating symbols on mouse click i.e. not needing to create an entirely new page to maintain, in order to show an update to a single symbol. I should be able to create a modified state without having to create a completely new page. I understand the restrictions of acrobat, but the software should create the pages needed on export.

  13. Spam Saving Error. we use Perforce for version control, sometimes Mockups doesn’t get to have its way with the save file without my permission. “Ignore this message” should… get ready… ignore that message.

Long story short, for over $100 per seat you guys need to get your act together! Mockups is unfortunately a toy with great potential, but not yet a production tool. drop the Air framework. it’s terrible and absolutely not cut out for the requirements of the software. The subtle inconsistencies with standard windows (and I would assume OSX) behavior, render it less useful in many subtle ways.

The absolute worst offender of the above mentioned are 1 and 2. I’m super not happy about having to rebuild my files from scratch because I simply cannot copy and paste symbols reliably. This bug will cost me tens of hours.


#2

Hey @aribilow.

Let me start by saying thank you for taking the time to post your frustrations here. It helps us make Mockups a better product and we really, really appreciate that. I’m sorry that the conversation to do that is starting with frustration, but I hope it won’t end that way.

If you don’t mind, I’ll address each one of these separately. Makes it easier for both of us to digest, I think!

  1. This sounds like a bad bug, and one we definitely want to get fixed. We just found a bug where copy/pasting with multiple projects open triggers the replace dialog, so it might be related to this. Are you seeing it when only one project is open? Like I said, this is a bug we want to get fixed, especially if it is corrupting links and assets.
  2. Auto-Save is a constant topic, and one we continue to evaluate. While it was the most requested feature for version 3, we are finding that it’s not always great, and we are really looking for the balance there. We want folks to feel safe knowing their data is being preserved, but we also want you to be able to revert changes that you make easily. You shouldn’t feel like you’re doing a crossword with a pen. This is a very hot topic internally, and we will be sharing updates soon, I hope.
  3. A lot of the restrictions are due to implementation difficulty of the final product (we don’t want you to design something that then cannot be implemented later), but that doesn’t mean we have made the right choices across the board. You are not the first person to bring up making things smaller than 10px, so that means we need to talk about it again and see if this is a restriction we want to keep.
  4. This is usually due to the snapping grid (and a bug we have been hunting for some a while.) I find that if I drag while holding CTRL (on Windows) or CMD (on Mac) that usually makes it a little less quirky. That being said, it’s something we intend to make better.
  5. Agreed, and something we will talk about to see what we can do to improve it.
  6. If you double-click on a project file directly, the app should open only that file when it launches. If you are seeing different behavior, please let us know. We will get that fixed.
  7. This is a byproduct of reaching the limits of Adobe Air (more on that below) and I’m sorry about that. PDF export is one of the most egregious offenders - it is probably the single largest resource hog in the whole app. We have been making small enhancements to the renderer, but we can only do so much until we have a native app.
  8. This should only happen when changing a property that a symbol has over-ridden. For instance, if you have a shape symbol that you override and change the background color to blue, changing the background color on the symbol source will have no effect on the overridden symbol because that property has been overridden. Reverting the override should update the symbol to match it master. If you are seeing something different, we will get that fixed!
  9. What version of Mockups are you using? This was something we thought we fixed in a recent version, but if it’s still popping up, we’d love to know. We know it is a pain.
  10. When you’re looking to edit the symbol “in place” are you saying editing the source on the mockup itself? If so, the reason you cannot is because the symbol you are editing is not the actual symbol, but a copy of it. I’m sorry we don’t have a better way to do that, but it would be interesting to see if we could. I will talk to the team about it.
  11. I’ll see if we can add one.
  12. I’m not sure I follow on this one. Are you saying a new page in the Symbol Library? Let me know and we can talk about it :slight_smile:
  13. This goes back to the autosave discussions we have been having. Mockups shouldn’t have trouble when you are saving the file to a remote location. We need to fix this, and we will, one way or another.

I’m really sorry that we have caused you this much frustration. But I cannot thank you enough for sharing it with us. Every feature, change or update is one good discussion away from changing. I mean that. There is a lot to discuss here, and I guarantee you that things will change because of it. Thank you for that. It makes us better, and that’s what is most important to us.

With regard to Adobe Air, we totally hear you. The might of our development team is focused on moving us away from Flex based apps, and onto native platforms for everything. This is an absolutely massive task, but we are closer to the finish line now, than to the start.

I hope to keep this discussion going because I think you have brought a lot of important issues up. And we definitely want to squash any bugs you have found - especially if they are causing you hours of time loss. There is absolutely no excuse for that, and I am terribly sorry about it.

All that to say, I really look forward to hearing back from you :). Thank you for helping us do better.


#3

Really appreciate the response! Super timely and humble - more mature than my rant for sure :slight_smile:

It is a welcome breath of fresh air having dealt with Adobe forums extensively. “Sigh… No, Adobe, the brush palette bug that has been present for the past 15 years isn’t because of my video card.”

RE: # 12 - what I would like to be able to do is have a link in a mockup be able to change a symbol within that mockup, and not require an entirely new mockup. For instance I may want a button to change a menu’s color when clicked. It’s easy enough to do that, but the more pages I create, the more complex maintaining my file becomes. This leaves room for many errors to creep into my flow.

Conversely, if I can create a symbol update when the user clicks a button within a single mockup, it would simplify the structure of my file as a whole. Again, I do understand that the PDF format doesn’t necessarily support this, which is ok as this is primarily a workflow issue. The coarseness of the PDF format’s interactivity is fine. What I’m getting at is that the fewer mockups I have in my project, the less prone to error it will be. to maintain one home page, for instance, is easier than maintaining multiple home pages.

Structurally this may be too complex for what Mockups is - a narrower scoped tool that is really fast and easy to use, but for the depth of menus I’m creating it doesn’t suffice.

I look forward to future progress - I’m currently running 3.3.3, but wasn’t aware of any updates.


#4

To Adobe’s credit: They deal with hundreds of tickets a day, and have a staff that is much larger than ours. It’s easy to lose sight of a single thread when you have 20 more in your backlog. It doesn’t make it ok, but I definitely feel for their team. They have it a lot harder than we do.

Anyway! Let’s talk interactivity. For a very long time, we haven’t wanted to implement a feature that couldn’t be done in a PDF export. PDFs, after all, are one of the best ways to share mockups with your team, so building features that aren’t PDF compatible didn’t make sense. But, that being said, we recently implemented a back link function that doesn’t work with PDFs. So, now that the seal has been broken, the discussion for other non-pdf friendly features are back on the table. Interactivity is a fine line to walk. We aren’t a prototyping tool, so we want to make sure we don’t over step our bounds. I will bring this idea back to the team and see if there is a middle ground we can find for it.

I do want to hear more about the first bug in your list. I know 3.3.3 had a bad duplicating assets bug, so let’s get you on 3.3.6 to fix it. You can grab it here. There is still a bug that triggers the replace dialog if you are copying an asset with 2 mockups open. We are in the process of fixing that one.

I totally get your frustration, @aribilow. We feel some of it as well. Thank you for taking the time to tell us though - when I say it makes Mockups (and us) better, I mean it. Let me know if the duping bug is fixed with the latest update, and tell me if there are any other features you’d like see. You can email me directly, if you prefer, and we can chat there. My email is (surprise) brendan@balsamiq.com.

I hope we get to chat soon. :slight_smile:


#5

Totally understandable - here’s the key to that feature though: it doesn’t have to require any more interactivity from Acrobat. All it has to do is export PDF pages for each interactive state.

Anyway, it seems that updating and working with only one project open (having more than one project open still causes the bug) has remedied the pasting bug, but not before destroying my file via auto-saving. Just create a separate file for auto-save rather than overwriting the original and all will be well in the world.