Mockups 2.1 is coming soon: a new font, a new era!

Hi all!

Just a quick post to pre-announce that Mockups 2.1 is coming out in a week or two.

The main change of 2.1 is that we're changing the font used by Mockups, from Comic Sans (on Win/Linux) and Chalkboard (on Mac) to our own Balsamiq Mockups font, hand-crafted lovingly by our very own Michael Angeles.

Mike drew the glyphs on his iPad using iFontMaker, one by one. We then used TypeTool to adjust the baseline and other metrics. We learned a lot about typography in the process, it was fun! πŸ™‚

We are doing this for three primary reasons:

  1. To fix the "words sometimes disappear" bug that's been plaguing us since day one.
  2. To have a consistent rendering across different OSs and Balsamiq Mockups versions.
  3. To get rid of the allergy-provoking Comic Sans typeface.

We put together a short FAQ document with details about the change and how it might affect you: Balsamiq Mockups Font FAQ. Please take a look at it and give us feedback on it as well (just add a comment here).

We would love it if you could download the pre-release version and give it a spin for a few days. Remember, the initial shock at the change is natural, but it will wear off. Give the new font a chance. πŸ™‚

There's still a little bit of work to do: some characters are a bit wide, some a bit heavy, all need better kerning. We'll be making these improvements daily until launch, so keep that feedback coming!

Here are the links once again:


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Comments (23)

  1. A first pass of fixes to the Regular and Italic are available to try in the pre-release. Includes work to clean up Diacritics and to add triangles (unicode 25BC Down, 25B2 Up, 25BA Right, 25C0 Left), since we don’t fall back on the system font for missing characters with the embedded font. You can see the results here: http://balsamiq.com/support/font/glyph-viewer

    If you want to try the pre-release, you can install it here:

    http://balsamiq.com/products/mockups/next

    After you’ve played with it, if you want to roll back to the stable release, simply go to the download page and re-install using the Update button here:

    http://balsamiq.com/download

  2. Hi, Rachel. Glad you like the new font. We don’t currently have plans to make the font available outside of the application. We’d have to research the licensing issues. For now, we’re still working on fixing some problems with the font.

  3. I absolutely love the new font! Is there any chance it’s available for my computer? πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks Mike. I hope Cyrillic will be natively available someday.

    Leon C.
  5. Leon, you will have to use the menu View > System fonts for Cyrillic, or select an alternate font. Please see the font faq here: http://balsamiq.com/support/font

  6. I’m afraid this new font lacks cyrillic symbols.

    Leon C.
  7. @Case and Blaq: we’ll make sure to add the 25BC unicode triangle glyph to the font, thanks for asking!

    Peldi Guilizzoni
  8. Looks much sharper. Still crayony, but less childish. I like it a lot – MAJOR improvement, IMHO.

    As is the subtle switch to ‘normal’ text as default, rather than ‘bold’. Never made sense to me that the default text would need its weight changed to distinguish *bold* stuff.

    Lack of backwards compatibility is not the end of the world. We will simply swap in a cfg file to revert to comic-sans during a transition period when working on projects already started in oldy-worldy font land.

    πŸ™‚ Nice work Peldi and crew.

  9. Peldi, I think the character that Case is talking about is the same one I need pretty badly. It’s BLACK DOWN POINTING TRIANGLE, unicode 25BC. I use this to mockup dropdown menus. For example “More β–Ό”. Any chance we can get this in?

  10. I could see how “words sometimes disappear[ed]” before: they were embarrassed to be seen in public wearing Comic Sans.

  11. Some nice work, glad to be rid of the dreaded “words something disappearing” bug. Very much prefer the custom font over Comic Sans … but do agree that it’s a tad uniform at the moment. More importantly though … I’d love to have the black pointing triangles back!

    [Peldi: hi Case, which black triangles?]

  12. Looks great at body copy sizes, but a little bit wonky for headlines – looking forward to the refinement, creating your own typeface is a massive achievement, nice work!

    ( Aside: can I win a no-prize for the earliest Mockups font griping? http://community.balsamiq.com/balsamiq/topics/product_roadmap_for_balsamiq_mockups#reply_523390 … I thought it would never happen!)

    [Peldi: wow, that post brought me back Adam! Definitely brownie points for you.:)]

  13. I actually prefer the old Chalkboard and Comic as they are a little more handwritten whereas this font is a little square for my tastes.

    Would it be possible to add an option to the menu ‘Use old font’ so that we can still use it as was?

    [Peldi: Hi Simon, please give the new font a few days to win you over. πŸ™‚ If that doesn’t work, see point #4 here: http://balsamiq.com/support/font#changed%5D

  14. You have not told us the name of the new font. Will there be a contest?
    Here are my entries:
    – Serious Sans
    – Italica
    – Peldus Maximus
    – Pencil Perfect
    – CS Perfecta

    [Peldi: Hi Ruven, we’re calling it “Balsamiq Mockups font”. Not very imaginative I know…we also haven’t decided wether to post the TTFs for it somewhere or not…we’d need to come up with a EULA for it if we do.]

  15. @Michael Gaigg:

    Re: 1-2) Yes this is true. We will do our best to help people that want to update and potentially have to touch their older Mockups. The compatibility path if you want to remain with Comic Sans or Chalkboard is to use a config file to specify the font. We can help with that as well, but you’ll be left with the text clipping issues that really moved us to make the switch.

    Re: 3) I was expecting a few people to say that they prefer comic sans for that very reason. But I am expecting that the majority of people are actually on the other side of the comic sans issue. The “beauty of the comic font” is a turn of phrase I didn’t expect.

    For many people in different circumstances, the font actually does the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. It draws people’s attention to it, rather than gets them away from focusing on design. It’s a distraction. I would argue that the text in Mockups is supposed to be legible first, and disappear with respect to the overall concept second. It’s not supposed to fight with the idea. The sketch style of controls alone should do an adequate job of communicating low-fidelity, as should the roughness of the layout of your Mockups.

    But what it comes down to is this. The 2 system fonts we were using on the Windows and Mac platforms were breaking the app, and breaking layouts. The font faq breaks down the problems and explains why we had to do this. We chose to make our own font, and I tried both a typeface that had personality, and one that was more readable. In terms of getting the job done, and being usable while still keeping true to the soul of the product, we went with this style.

    Again, if you really want to stick with Comic Sans or Chalkboard, send us an email to support@balsamiq.com and we’ll give you a config file and instructions for how to set it up.

  16. I like it! πŸ™‚

  17. Hooray!

  18. Hey, I loved the idea of having a unique font (besides all the other advantages you’ve mentioned). My first reaction was to blog about it, then I decided to try it out first and now I find myself posting a comment…
    Here are my thoughts:

    (1) The new font is not backwards compatible, which means that I either start my 100+ mockups currently in progress all over or keep the old font around – but not sure if I then ever be able to simple switch over

    (2) This compatibility issue becomes even bigger when I think of all my Assets (symbols) which I’ve used for myself as well as shared with my colleagues and on your site

    (3) The beauty of the comic font is that it was clearly based on a hand-written type vs. the new one that is more or less modeled – even if hand-written – after a common print font which conveys draft/sketched/unfinished versus polished/clean/ready

    Bottomline: I love the idea of a unique font and improvements to the existing comic style, but most likely I will have to stick with the old one for a little longer until new projects allow me to slowly ‘take over’. A transition plan, e.g. having both fonts available, would be highly useful!

  19. Nothing on the roadmap for Android tablets? Isn’t it easier to port for AIR on tablet vs an iPad?

    [Peldi: Hi RG, I’m still considering if it makes business sense for us to do an Android app. We’ll start with the iPad and learn from there]

  20. The good thing about Comic Sans was that the stigma associated with it granted designs made with Balsamiq the feeling of being works in progress.

    [Peldi: I know, that’s why the new font is also hand-written. Try it out for a few days and let us know if it doesn’t convey the same message!]

  21. THANK YOU!

    Of course the first thing I did was that font hack all over the web. Nice to see a formal alternative.

  22. What will happen with Greek (or other language) characters? Does this font extend to cover those characters?

    [Peldi: hi Petros, the answer is here: http://balsamiq.com/support/font#noglyphs – please let us know if you have feedback on it!]

  23. Nice… but what other features are coming? We might find something else awesome. πŸ™‚

    [Peldi: Hi John, our roadmap is here: http://balsamiq.com/products/mockups/manifesto#vision%5D

    John Farrar