The future of Balsamiq for Desktop

I only just saw the The future of Balsamiq for Desktop article which end with a request to give feedback, so here’s mine:

I’ve been a real fan and advocate of Balsamiq for many years, often in highly technical companies where wireframe tools were not that common yet.

  1. Because of the desktop variant with it low $89,- pricing, I’ve been able to convince people (department managers, team leads, etc.) to give it a go: “buy me a license, you will see the benefits”. And surely enough, once used, everybody loved it and more licenses were bought. I even have some old private license available on my personal laptop to show the benefits. In companies unfamiliar with the benefits of wireframing, convincing to order a subscription based license will be much harder, if not impossible.
  2. I’m currently at a very large (> 400.000) employee company. Storing business critical things in a non-self hosted cloud environment is not an option. Miro, Figma, etc. can only be used when the company can buy a license form where they can host themselves.
  3. And even then, there will be very, very long running discussions between the company’s large IT deparment and the software tool vendor on licensing terms, security, etc. For example, as UX designers we’ve been waiting for 1,5 years now to get Figma licenses (it is finally getting settled, but Figma was forced to change certain licensing terms especially for us). For a tool with a smaller reach like Balsamiq, I (often as a contractor) will never be able to initiate processes like this.
  4. Wireframing is not used in all stages of product design. With the desktop licenses, it’s okay to have a couple of licenses in a department and use it now and then. With a subscription based service with recurring monthly or yearly cost, there will be much more focus on “do we really (still) need this tool?”, “for which users can the license be scraped”, etc.

This is mainly why I love the desktop variant. I am 100% sure that if there was only a Cloud based variant with a subscription model I would never been able to introduce and use Balsamiq in the companies I have worked for.

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Hi @Onno,

Thank for taking the time to give us this well-considered feedback. We really do appreciate it.

We do try to mitigate some of the concerns you mention through things like a generous free trial period and our Auto-Hibernation feature but we do understand that many of your points are innate benefits of a desktop version of the app.

We’ve gone ahead and recorded this feedback in our internal tracking. Thanks again.

The 30 day trial period could certainly help! Having a ‘per user’ license for cloud also.
Anyway, the above is just from my personal experience with Balsamiq. I understand your reasoning for going to cloud only too.
(Just hope I will be able too use my trusty old Desktop variant for many years to come though :grin:)

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Hey @Onno

Thanks for getting back to us.

Our default free trial period is 30 days but if customers need more time, we can always extend that.

Can you help us understand how a per-user license would - maybe? - work better for you? Right now, we do not limit users in Cloud so you pay the same whether you have 2 users or 200 users.

All the best!

Ah, I did not know that there is no limit on users (Balsamiq desktop guy only here :rofl:)

What I have experienced is that there are usually a limited number of people creating mockups (so a per-user license is oversee-able), but they tend to created an awful lot of mockups for different tools and UI’s. I think that for each tool/UI (each *.bmpr file in desktop terms) you require a ‘project’ in Cloud?

I am not sure I am comfortable running into a limit of the maximum number of projects I and my colleagues can create. Feels like buying Word and only being able to create 20 .docx files (or am I mistaken?)

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No, you understand correctly @Onno

It’s possible to download Cloud projects for safe-keeping, then delete them from your Space - to free up a spot, as it were . So the project limit is really just a limit on ‘active’ projects. If a project needs more work in future, it can be uploaded again for editing.

So you can, effectively, create an unlimited number of projects, the subscription limits the number you’re actively working on. It may not be ideal for some customers and their use models but it is possible to work around the limit somewhat.

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Hi @alasdair,

Just to leap in on this discussion. :slight_smile:

Whilst still using the desktop version I have access to all 440 projects I have created in the last 10+ years.

When creating a new project (set of mockups) I often need to start from a previous set of mockups to minimise having to recreate an interface. Many times I will need to draw on multiple previous projects in order to work efficiently.

If I was to switch to Balsamiq Cloud, there is no plan that gives me access to all my previous projects to enable quick re-use. I would be limited to a maximum of 200 projects. And access to those 200 projects would cost ~$2000 per year.

I definitely want Balsamiq to go from strength to strength but a move from a one off cost of ~$90 to an annual one of ~$2000 is quite a leap.

Or have I misunderstood the situation? (Which is very possible!)

So could I add a new user story to how Balsamiq is used?

  • As a designer I want to be able to draw on all previous designs when working on a new project in order to deliver efficiently.

Thanks, Paul…

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Hey @paulshoughton

Thanks so much for the feedback. It’s always great to get specific, considered feedback on use case like this, the less abstract the better.

I’ve added this to our tracking and we’ll continue to discuss.

Thanks again.

Thanks @alasdair.

Hi @alasdair,

The other important use case for desktop Balsamiq is the ability to work offline. Whilst not something I need regularly it has been very useful when I haven’t had an internet connection.


  • Working whilst travelling via plane or train.
  • Presenting from a customer site. (Not every customer will offer access to the internet in every meeting room.)
  • During a power outage.

User story:

  • As a designer I want to be able to work offline when I am in locations without reliable internet connections.

Thanks, Paul…

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Thanks @paulshoughton

When Peldi talked about the future of BW desktop in the January newsletter, he added this: “We want to add offline mode - the browser’s APIs are good enough to do it now.

So it’s definitely a consideration we understand.

Thanks @alasdair - great to hear about offline mode.

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Like others in the community, I am a fan of Balsamiq and want you to go “from strength to strength” but I will also miss desktop significantly. I’m not a designer, I just occasionally need to mock something up to share an idea, or just create something to form a basis of discussion. Maintaining a subscription (even one auto-paused) will be a hassle that I’ll probably forego. So, I’ll be one of the sad casualties of dropping the app.
And as far as the move to online-only services, I’ll actually point at some noteworthy counter examples. Rather than keeping an open tab on a browser, I prefer the native experience whenever possible. Even though they are predominately “web” tools (and all of them subscription services), I use the (Mac) app for services like:

Maybe you can get there with a PWA, but I’ve not seen great examples there yet. :person_shrugging:

As an occasional user, I also don’t mind infrequent updates; nor is “feature parity” important to me. And of course as an occasional user, I acknowledge that I’m not your bread-and-butter! But I still wanted to at least express my appreciation for the desktop app, and sadness to see it on the trail to the sunset.


Hi @accapehart and thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us. I’ll make sure to share it with the team as we’re trying to provide good alternatives for the features that make Desktop special. Thanks again!

I am an occasional desktop user. My main job is product management, but I use Balsamiq once or twice a week on average to explain ideas and rough out concepts.

I too “steal” from my old designs saved on my hard drive to ramp up new mock-ups quickly.

I haven’t studied the pricing options available, but it sounds like I need to shuffle projects in-and-out to get access to my old stuff, without paying crazy amounts for all the projects I have created over the years. It’s tough enough to find the mockups I want when I can open them all. I won’t have the patience to shuffle.

Perhaps the casual user isn’t the target market- I understand. I’ve used Balsamiq on and off for years. It will be sad to give it up.

I totally understand, @Timmeekay, and your scenario is something we want to try to accommodate.

With that said, when the desktop app goes away, we are talking about years in the future. We are bringing it up now so we can hear feedback like yours (and try to plan for it), but this change isn’t imminent.

Keep the feedback coming, friends. We want to accommodate as much as we can. :slight_smile: