More customizable text UI elements?


#1

Hi,

I often find myself frustrated by inconsistencies and limitations in text formatting options allowed for different text UI elements, and I was hoping you could resolve some of them. You could make the elements more consistent by allowing for at least a baseline set of formatting options (plus whatever else is needed for the particular element). For example, “List” elements have no option for text alignment, but sometimes I really want a center-aligned list. Why is that not allowed? I’m also constantly in need of font sizes between 32 and 40, but since the properties panel only permits certain fixed values, I have to edit the text with {size} markup. Why not allow any size to be typed into the font size option in the properties panel? Seems much easier. A similar problem happens with font color: some UI elements have this option in their properties panel, while others do not, so some require manual insertion of {color} markup.

I suspect that you don’t want to clutter the properties panel with text formatting options that may not get much use; however, there’s something to be said for consistency – if the options are arranged and displayed consistently across all elements, I think users will be able to easily ignore what they don’t need. And, at least in my experience, the cognitive load of hunting for UI elements that actually have the formatting options I need is much greater than ignoring options that are already present.

Thanks for all your help and hard work,
Burton


#2

Hey Burton, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on this with us. It’s obviously something that has bugged you for a little while. We have this work planned on our list for the future. We recognize that there are some inconsistencies throughout the product with different controls.

Currently, it’s a lot of work for us to make changes to controls. We are working to consolidate our code between our different products, and as we move forward, we have some exciting things planned. Just for full disclosure, we are probably not going to make any progress on this front for a while. Some of the things that we are currently working on would be significantly slowed down if we made too many changes to controls. We will get to this, just not right away. Thanks for understanding!


#3

Hi Ben, A recent frustration reminded me of this problem again, so I figured I’d check back in. :slight_smile: This time, I really need vertical alignment of text within its bounding box (top-, center-, and bottom-aligned), but only horizontal alignment options are available. Has there been any progress on consolidating/upgrading text UI elements? Thanks a ton! I love what ya’ll have done in the most recent sub-releases…


#4

It would be great if all text areas supported the same basic markup (or Markdown).

For example, the list syntax which works in the Site Map control:

- First
-- Nested
- Second

Which is different to Markdown syntax:

* First
 * Nested
* Second

But then neither work in Text or Text Area controls.

And if the rest of the Markdown that can be used here on the Balsamiq Forums was supported too? Really great!


#5

another one that would be great would be the ability to center text inside a box, like you can set {size} although I recognize that at a certain point you defeat the purpose of Balsamiq!


#6

Hi Ben,

I’m still getting burned by inconsistent and arbitrarily limiting controls, particularly with text, so I wanted to send a few more examples your way. Hope ya’ll can get to this soon!

  • Several text controls are essentially duplicates of each other, but with slightly different options. A Title is the same as a Subtitle except for default font size and alignment. A Link is underlined by default and allows for a “disabled” state, but doesn’t have options for font alignment or text color except through {color} markup in the text itself. A Label adds an option for four discrete orientations. All can be used as links. I think it would be vastly simpler to have a single, container-less, title-like text control that allows for all of these options, depending on the user’s needs, and maybe even a couple more options: any rotation (not just 45º increments) and any font size (not just preset values).
  • Text Area and Text Input are also mostly redundant, although I understand that the latter is supposed to emulate a traditional text input in web forms and such. The biggest difference is that text areas can be sized vertically and that the text wraps; accordingly, it also adds a scrollbar option. Text Area is also similar to a rectangular Shape, except that has limited options for integrating an icon and the text is centered vertically. All three have the same option for setting background and border colors, but not for text color. Again, I think it would be much simpler to have a single text-in-a-box control with options for text wrapping, both horizontal and vertical resizing, both horizontal and vertical text alignment, and maybe also icon integration (but with more control for icon placement). As before, added flexibility for setting font size would be useful, and maybe even arbitrary rotation angles (I see that this is another thread in the forum – I agree with the posters!).
  • In-line text formatting options can vary by control, which also leads to confusion. I agree with the poster who suggested that the same Markdown (or similar) syntax should work in all text controls.

Thanks for listening to me rant again. I hope some of these ideas seem useful to you!


#7

Hey all, sorry this thread hasn’t gotten a lot of love, there was a lot to digest and I wanted to make sure we were talking about it!

@neeklamy Indenting markdown is hard in Flash/Air. This problem will be mitigated (and revisited) when we go native, but it’s too difficult right now.

@bjdewilde Thanks so much for taking the time to write feedback that is super well thought out.

  • While different controls that accomplish similar things can be confusing, it’s super helpful for beginners. But we totally can understand how having a single, malleable “text field” would be helpful for power users. It’s something to think about down the road.
  • Markdown is definitely something we are looking at and will revisit once we go native (and indenting isn’t such a pain!) What controls are on your Markdown Wishlist right now?

Thanks for the continued input, all, seriously. Even if it’s something we don’t think we want to do, having the discussion around them makes us look at everything a little differently!


#8

I’d like to jump on this bandwagon too… I think you guys have a real opportunity here to be THE mockup tool but the limitations surrounding styling text and other items is a killer… I realize you want to lock it down somewhat because as a product out of the box this should just be a layout tool but I think there should be a way to be very expressive with styles in a more advanced way using objects i.e. for text “my link text{underline:false}” or even on an actual shape be able to right click it and add a custom property with these objects… I should be able to change anything about a box including how much border radius to give it… I’m not saying that you should throw everything under the sun in the inspector panel on the right but you should be able to be more expressive if you’re willing to write the code…

I don’t know if this is just an issue and limitation with the way this thing is built being in adobe air or what but I’d love to see this tool become more flexible. rebuild it in http://electron.atom.io/ :slight_smile: