We're thinking of making geometric shapes non-markup. What do you think?

UPDATE: We've implemented this change. Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

We're thinking of making a potentially big change to the Geometric Shape controls to make them not markup items. We wanted to discuss the change and get your feedback before we do.

About Markup

As you may know, Markup controls are a special kind of control that can be toggled to be visible or hidden. Things like callouts, sticky notes, and geometric shapes can be used to annotate your Mockups wireframes, and then hidden so that you can focus on your wireframe when your designing or demonstrating.

About Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes were originally created to offer people controls that can be used for flow charting, and after discussion in the forum, ended up as Markup items when it was implemented. Now, however, we're beginning to think that they shouldn't be.

Why the change?

Many people use geometric shapes to create controls or other design elements, and in these cases, we don't think of them as markup items--the kind used in flow charts.

One type of issue that we see in our support forums every now and then is that people will open Mockups and it will appear that some of their controls have disappeared. This is because they're using geometric shapes as I describe above.

The fix is to toggle Markup items on via the menu View > Show Markup, or using the Show/Hide Markup icon in the upper right corner. Once you learn that they're markup items, you know this, but we feel it's confusing if you have to learn that.

We think now it makes more sense for geometric shapes to be non-markup controls and here's why:

  1. Flow charts have a right to exist without being invisible if they're created on Mockups, don't they. Why would you want flow charts hidden? We don't really remember the argument that called for it.
  2. The "my controls disappeared" problem report usually has to do with geometric shapes being hidden when "Show markup" is not checked. Making them non-markup controls fixes this.
  3. Judging from problem reports mentioned in #2 above, it seems that a significant number of users have become accustomed to using geometric shapes to supplement the UI library controls. My guess is that more people use geometric shapes for design than use Mockups for flow charting.

How are you using Geometric Shapes?

If you have a compelling use case that describes why you would want geom shapes to be markup by default, please tell us now. We think this is the right direction to be going, and will make fewer problems and less confusion. What do you think?

Mike for the Balsamiq Team


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Comments (11)

  1. Always happy to do the right thing, Eli. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thanks Mike! This is awesome, was looking up how to toggle it and saw you guys made this update. Thanks so much, I think you were right that the majority of people used the shapes to augment the UI ojbects. Thanks again for noticing this need of the users.

  3. We’ve implemented this change. Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

  4. Funny, I didn’t even know there was a difference between controls (Markup and Non Markup). I don’t ever hide or show anything. If it’s on the screen, it’s on the screen, it’s in the final PDF output that I show to other folks. Simple.

  5. I agree also, I use them very often when drawing controls or flow charts. It would be nice to have them as “standard” item.

    Patrick
  6. Consider having a option on the properties window for these (and other controls?) to “Treat as markup” (default to “not markup” as you suggest). Then that combined with the “Show markup” option will give users the control they need.

  7. I agree. I often use geometric shapes to create controls so I’m happy to see them treated as non-markup.

  8. As long as you can still have the option to treat the item as a markup, then this sounds great.

  9. Agree! Please make them non-markup!

    Kai Virkki
  10. I absolutely agree with this! This will be a great improvement and will make life much easier. I regularly find that I have forgotten to mark them to not be markup, and find it out when I go to demo and find that I have invisible controls. Thank you!