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February 2007

Holy Cow! Balloonist version 2.0 is out!

Posted Wed, 28 Feb 2007 23:30:14 -05:00

Curved Stems

Curved Stems were the number one requested feature, and we took the time to do them right.

Initially, we implemented the standard interactive Bezier control points. But in tests, this approach proved hard to work with. It was possible to produce curved stems that looked good, but it seemed to be much easier to create ones that looked lousy.

We went back to the drawing board and came up with an approach that we think you'll like. We ended up defining stem curves using three sliders. Two of these control the inclination of the stem at each end. A third sets the curve's rigidity.

While manipulating these controls, you'll see guide lines and phantom Bezier control points, but just for reference. We've added another one of those hypnotic mini-movies to the Product Page to try and give a sense of what we're talking about.

Rounder, Rufflier Ruffles

Somehow, we were never satisfied with ruffles in version 1.0. We knew we were onto something with ruffle harmonics. They just didn't look right to us.

Well, we totally re-did them in version 2.0, and we think they look great. As an added bonus, now you can vary the rectangularness of ruffled balloons and starbursts, just like you've always been able to do with ordinary ovals.

Apart from the visual appeal, semi-rectangular ovals simplify lettering because they can hold more words than purely elliptical ones. That translates into more space left over for your artwork.

Better Line Break Control

Balloonist's strong suit is layout. You focus on your balloons, it fits your text snugly inside them. But every now and then it would be nice to be able to re-assert control and say, I'd really prefer to break text here.

In version 2.0, Balloonist respects newlines in your text. Now you have the best of both worlds.

Other New Features

  • Zoom
    • A zoomer control interactively scales the artwork pane view
    • Images can now be exported at this zoom factor
  • Unobtrusive rulers to the right and bottom of your artwork provide a better sense of proportion.
  • Preferences
    • Defaults are provided for control over rectangularness, inner margins, outline color, fill color, and line thickness
    • Slider positions are now fully resetable
  • Panel Layout
    • Layout changes no longer affect Page Dimensions
    • The Number of Panels field on in the Layout Properties now stays in sync with your artwork, not just the other way around.
    • Page Dimension Properties now let you to turn off automatic layout.
  • A menu item to start New Artwork from an Existing Image
  • "Selected" ruffle harmonics are now hilighted in the Artwork Pane
  • Bonus features for users with Java 6.0 installed
    • Export Images in newly-unpatented GIF format
    • Preferences now include optional font kerning
  • Toolbar Icons that no longer look like they were fished out of the dumpster behind a comic book store by an unusually industrious robin.
  • The license registration dialog box now has a working Edit Menu and a PayPal link for those who prefer not to pay with a U.S. Credit Card.

And finally, some bug fixes

  • Choosing Plain from the Format Menu no longer erases the current font
  • Vertically-oriented text can now be successfully exported to PDF or copied-and-pasted in accuracy-preservation mode.
  • Revived the plain, black indicator style used in previous versions to indicate editably pasteable fonts in font family dropdowns.
  • Automatic Layout now can handle a single row incompletely filled with tall panels.
  • Wallpapered "Insufficient memory to display image" notice is now large enough to see.
  • Orange Trace in the Artwork Pane now has the correct height and width
  • No longer registers an edit when a balloon with only one oval is parted, preventing a subsequent error when Undoing
  • Unsaved changed to documents are presented in a more helpful order upon quitting.

Plus, of course, line thickness, tighter text layout and everything else we've given you for free in point releases since version 1.0.

For more details on everything, feel free to check out the revised product manual, online.

Upgrading to Balloonist v2.0 from earlier versions

We promised registered users a discounted upgrade to version 2.0. Well, we changed out minds. Instead, you can use version 2.0 with your existing license for free. We could not have produced this update without your extensive feedback and support. Thank you all!! We appreciate our users.

Artwork files created in earlier versions of Balloonist should continue to work fine in Balloonist v2.0. One caveat is that round ruffles are now rendered as pure arcs, where before they appeared slightly squashed. Consequently, ruffled balloons transitioned from earlier versions may need modest height adjustments.

Balloonist 2.0 is on its Way

Posted Sun, 04 Feb 2007 23:45:00 -05:00

Just a quick note, since a few people have asked.

Balloonist v2.0 is in testing, and is slated for release later this month.

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