Recently I have been day dreaming about VR whiteboards and tablet assisted whiteboards as I feel the tactile sense of a pen would help.
What are you using today?
1) Get the cheapest iPad that supports the Apple Pencil. The 2018 non-Pro was this for me last I looked.
2) Get the Google Jamboard app (not the Jamboard hardware, it is not at all worth it).
3) Share the "jam" with yourself on a different device (a nearby laptop)
4) Screenshare the laptop.
Things I think any virtual whiteboard scheme needs to have:
1) You need to be able to see people's faces! If you can't see the people in the video call, good luck having anything feel natural.
2) See #1 again. Having the laptop drive the video call is important so you can configure it to see everyone's face while you present.
3) being able to use a pen to write and a finger to erase (if you have to open a menu, fail. sadly the jamboard app also gets this wrong though their way overpriced hardware gets it right)
4) ideally you have the ability to have an infinitely scrolling whiteboard. Jamboard doesn't do this, but it's close.
The Jamboard app also works on phones so other people can fairly easily join in and contribute. This scheme has its problems, but holy crap, so many whiteboard apps focus way too much on fancy new widgets and shapes and text and whatever and not enough on getting out of the way.
It's nowhere near perfect, but it's open source and I'm open to any collaboration on it for fun (even a complete rewrite, I'm not a fan of EmberJS. I explored EmberJS with it). I'm currently noticing an eraser bug when you are in draw mode and they are in eraser mode (d'oh).
I didn't know Jamboard existed when I made it. But I made it because I didn't find any app that applies pressure sensitivity and it's quite simple to do (TL;DR modern browsers support pressure sensitivity).
You can also annotate websites with it. Though, I didn't get the collaborative aspects of that working.
My focus was on the question "what if websites are like paper?" And I ran with it for a month, while exploring EmberJS. For that reason, I don't have an undo, but simply an eraser. It's also why the default style is pencil / pressure-sensitive based (you can have a more pen-like style though).
Its main use cases that I use it for are:
- Learning how to draw by tracing images.
- Brainstorming / whiteboarding (empty board)
- Brainstorming / whiteboarding (image loaded via URL)
- Draw over websites (mostly for annotation / having margins to write on)
I'm curious to know what you think of it.
People can also use an MS Surface or Wacom by the way.
Are you sure you're not thinking of SideCar?
i was wrong, you can't connect directly over LAN to an iPad. i was thinking of a different use case with ATV -- somewhere around 2018 you could install MDM profiles over LAN instead of USB.
but you can still do it wirelessly, if you have an ATV. use airplay to project the iPad screen to the ATV. pair your mac with the ATV. after pairing, your mac can record over LAN from the ATV, where you are projecting your iPad. tried it just now and it works with the slight deficit that you get a TV-sized image, with borders, instead of the iPad-sized image.
from Apple docs, it seems like any generation ATV will work, so if you're doing this just for iPad screen sharing, it may still be worth the effort if you pick up a 3rd gen ATV for $30 on ebay. some apple cables cost more than that!
Jamboard pro tip: if you open the "board switcher" drawer and press the three dots, you can change the background to grid or dot paper. Game changer for sketching diagrams.
Another great app for drawing is Procreate, which gives me layers, and has better drawing tools, like morphing my crooked lines into straight lines and perfect circles. Nice for sketching interfaces.
Update: It appears the situation has improved across the board. https://www.tomsguide.com/news/the-remarkable-2-is-an-ipad-p... says 20-21ms is pretty standard now.
Software wise, the iPad has way more pen focused productivity apps than Windows. On Windows, you are mostly limited to OneNote. Although Drawboard is pretty good for annotating PDF’s.
2) join meeting from ipad (in addition to camera/mic device)
3) present screen from ipad
Then you can use any pencil app you like. I use one called "Coloring" that my kid uses. It's really simple and doesn't get in the way.
I presume the same would work for any other videoconf tool, eg zoom.
The benefit over your method is that you still have the additional headshot view, since you're joined to the meeting twice. Can the jam app not join a google meet "natively"?
It's not collaborative, in that any other participant can edit the drawing, so it doesn't answer the originally posed question. But I've found that for the most part, even in person, just one person really "drives" the whiteboard. With the tiny screen size afforded over video, you aren't really going to benefit much from having multiple people be able to edit anyway. For that kind of collaboration you really need 2-3 6' wide whiteboards in a large room.
I feel the benefit of having a second, independently presenting device for the whiteboard, while still being able to participate with your talking head view, outweighs (by far) the downside of only one editor.
strong agree on having an independent device for whiteboarding so you can see heads is more important than the collaborative part, if you had to pick one. so much context is provided in seeing if heads are nodding or looking confused
but it is close enough. just use the google meet app from the iPad, and share the iPad screen from within Meet. it's the method i outlined, just with the jam app instead of 'Coloring'.
even without google meet on the iPad, the share-to-yourself and then share screen is unnecessary. create a new jam, join that jam from laptop and iPad, and share the jam from your laptop. this seems easier to me, but ymmv. https://allthings.how/how-to-use-jamboard-in-google-meet/
should also work with any other videoconf app. i assume they all allow screen share.
i really enjoy this method much better, because now in Catalina the screen recording permission is a distinct capability. I only enable that for Chrome when I explicitly need to share the screen. Setting those kinds of capabilities is not automatable, so it's a self-imposed annoyance, but worth it for the security gain. People really underappreciate the improved security of Catalina, perhaps justifiably so due to the other craptasticness of it. When you enable this in prefs, it says you have to restart chrome for it to take effect. However, you don't. The permission takes effect dynamically. Probably because each tab is a new process in Chrome, so it is in effect "restarting".
for vc apps that have their own app, this is great compartmentalization for the screen recording permission. for vc that runs in the browser, the tradeoff is you have to give the entire browser screen recording permission. this is too vast of a permission. of course with a native app you then have the zoom-malware problem. sigh.
that said, it's usually not too bad to underline and then click "undo" (which is what i have been doing since i didn't know what i was missing)
Christopher Chedeau did a recent talk on nice challenges they had building it in the open https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fix2-SynPGE
I want to build a plugin for Figma to embed Excalidraw inside Figma as I use Figma for all my design work already.
(Also great--if I could chat with simultaneous collaborators in figma when we do not want to or cannot be in videoconf simultaneously (I do a lot of parallel design))
For more technical whiteboards, I've been using excalidraw. I like presenting the "drawn" look to help imply that this is an unfinished idea and we're sketching the concepts out.
It's particularly good that multiple people can edit at the same time. It's pretty fast and we reuse the notes across sessions.
We are currently thinking about keeping Jira issues permanently on a board and then update them, rather than pulling them in just for ordering
Now he has two problems.
Cofounder here, happy to answer any questions.
While AWW has been around for some time we've seen a big surge (~6x) in the past two months due to current situation (as did most online/collaborative tools).
While AWW can be used directly on site, we also have an embeddable version, for example some interviewing startups use us as part of their web-based interviewing workflows.
Edit to add: AWW was launched here almost 10 years ago as a hobby project: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2886353 It grew steadily over time and now profitably employs several people and is used by millions of people worldwide.
I don't understand where people get the idea it is a good pattern. It feels like a designer meme, or more like cargo cult, that people add just because everybody else does.
We've got ours also well setup with a big library of assets like buttons, and illustrations we've had made, and different example charts, so if what you're discussing is a new feature or landing page it's really easy to drag in a bunch of ready-made components to express your idea.
We use Figma for collaborative whiteboard if too
It’s the best collaborative canvas you will find in 2020 IMO
I would even go so far as to say it’s the first digital whiteboard I have used in 20+ years that’s actually better than a real whiteboard
I am the main developer, and I have been maintaining and using it for several years now. Some of its advantages :
- It is fully open-source, free, and without advertisement. You can easily deploy it to your own server.
- All the whiteboards have an infinite size.
- It is fully web-based, you can use it without installing anything, even on relatively old browsers.
- It's translated in several languages.
- It's actively developed. In-development features include image upload, element resizing, new tools, and others...
By the way, for some reason I have problems scrolling with the trackpad as it scrolls very slowly, while scrolling with the arrow keys works just fine.
>> I don’t want to look like promotional, but recently a professor used an Osmo reflector (https://twitter.com/romps/status/1237617042338897921?s=12) to project class notes and it caught on with teachers.
>> A team worked through the weekend and released a free app to make this super easy (https://twitter.com/PlayOsmo/status/1241152565083090947).
>> While the base + reflector is not free, if you already have an Osmo game at home, you can reuse that.
I suppose somebody must find this interface satisfactory, since the product category has existed so long. But for the most part, we found the human factors part to be too awkward. I realized then that I would not try this again unless I had a stylus+touchscreen device so I could have a more natural writing experience. Even then, I have experienced enough terrible stylus interfaces on point-of-sale equipment to realize that I need quite low latency before it feels natural rather than tortured to write on a screen.
But, for us to buy such a thing for many team members, knowing it will probably only see infrequent use, it would have to be at an entry-level Android phone price level, not at iPad price levels. However, I'd be concerned that something like a phone will not provide an appliance/peripheral-like experience. I want something that works consistently with any software over a matter of years/decades, not something tied heavily to a specific app and platform which may evaporate long before the hardware wears out.
hope that helps
Its based on the idea that for most system diagrams, you just need boxes, text and arrows. everything else is superfluous. Its collaborative by default so you can invite someone to join you with the URL. The tools aren't discoverable yet, so to use it:
- option(⌥) + click to create a box
- option(⌥) + drag to create a grouping box
- select a box and option(⌥) + click another to draw an arrow
- select a box and type to edit text
would very much appreciate feedback! (email in profile)
I have just some "bugs" I guess (Windows Chrome):
- Can only add text to a box immediately after selecting it. Move it first, then cannot add text. Probably should be a blinking insert symbol to indicate when you can edit text or not, as this would at minimum make the state "discoverable". Personally I feel a lot of people will try to double click to edit text.
- Backspace deletes boxes but "delete" does not.
we fixed a bug so text should always be editable if the box is selected. and the "delete" key should also work now.
agree the blinking cursor is the standard for indicating if something is text editable. Its proven a bit tricky to get right, but hopefully, we'll have it working soon.
The whiteboards are autosaved, so you can return to the URL and see the same board. Planning to add export support soon, but for now, screenshots are the only way to save a copy locally.
Other than that, looks cool.
That being said, happy to answer any questions if anyone has any.
Room also has video chat built in, where the videos of the folks you're collaborating with hover around the workspace.
Ultimately these attributes combine to make room.sh a cleaner and easier alternative to cobbling together some combination of Zoom, Google Docs, and Figma (to use some prominent examples) for your team.
Also, you don't even need to create an account to try it out! We'd love if you gave it a whirl and left us some feedback in the box in our navbar :)
For context, I spend much of my day designing in Figma, which I love as well, but not for whiteboard-style collaboration.
If it doesn't have to be collaborative, then I use Onenote, because the scribbles can be saved as meeting notes.
It helps that I work at MSFT and everyone uses Windows + has whiteboard installed.
The Teams Whiteboard is pretty bad, and clunky to get to in the middle of a meeting. Most Teams users don't even know it's there.
As others have mentioned the ideal solution would have an easy way to point at things on the whiteboard. The lack of a hover state on touch based systems makes this more tricky, but there can, of course, be a pointer tool.
I have moved to it last week. Let's see how it goes.
I love how convenient it is that my natural brainstorming serves as detailed meeting notes.
> easy way to point at things on the whiteboard
I use whiteboard on my surface, and then project my screen instead of starting whiteboard from team. That way I can point at stuff, but it is harder to be collaborative.
Gromit-MPX - Allows drawing overtop whatever screen/window you'd like.
Wacom Intuous - Much nicer to draw with than a mouse or finger.
I have no idea if it'll hold up under load, I guess let's see. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You can share the URL to collaborate with someone else.
Also: I enjoyed this:
> No BS
> Browserboard is written by two people in their spare time who aren’t thirsty for advertising dollars. We have no reason to spam you or violate your privacy.
A thought: any interest in porting to Sandstorm? It seems like the app would be a perfect fit, and giving people an easy way to run it themselves gives you an out if it gets too popular for you to keep running it for free. If you're not familiar:
Relevant blog post: https://sandstorm.io/news/2014-07-21-open-source-web-apps-re...
(Disclosure: I am one of the more active contributors to Sandstorm)
I've only tested on Mac, and Cmd+Z works. What platform are you on?
Sandstorm is a maybe, but we're doing great on a $7/mo Heroku instance. :-)
Firefox on Linux.
On the bright side, we don't even ask you for an email address (yet).
Also comes with a presentation mode so you can walk through designs and have others on it follow along.
Compatible with iPad and Apple Pencil, which I recommend over the browser for markups.
It would be much more usefull for event-storming.
There are some things Figma isn't intended (and as such very good fit) for though, like diagramming/flowcharts, or marking up PDF's - haven't found great multiplayer web apps for those.
Feels like concurrent multiuser editing is something that a lot of software would benefit from - maybe something we will look back in 5 years as being weird it didn't exist and we had to send files back and forth to work on something together. Would make working together on almost anything easier remotely.
Miro and Mural are also quite nice collab tools, more limited than Figma but some nice things out of the box.
I've found Google Jamboard has the right mix of features and ease of use for collaborative exercises during training.
I've introduced a few enterprise clients to Miro and they're running with it. I've been impressed with how they've employed it.
Usually they support only C+z for undo.
Switching between pen and eraser by having to actually click an icon is fine on iPad but it drives me up the wall when I am using wacom tablet and keyboard.
Does anyone know application that supports keyboard shortcuts?
It's not "collaborative" in the sense that remote people can erase stuff on your board, but, I don't think that's a big deal. The "erase API" just becomes "Hey, @iso1631, why don't we get rid of X and replace it with Y?"
I suppose if you wanted to try and automate it, you could do so pretty easily with some custom software that just overlays photos of all the boards. The amount of image processing would be pretty trivial.
You can generate as many unique boards for free as you want here: https://interviewboard.io
Then check out Iobeya:
Does one thing and does it very well.
Powerpoint and Slides are perfectly capable for drawing diagrams, or whiteboarding. Zoom screen share is low enough latency and you're already using it for voice comm.
So much better than anything else we tried at handling hierarchy (nested lists, sections, etc)
They're moving quite fast and seemingly in the right direction.
What we've settled on:
We do the video chat on an old fullscreen iMac we had lying around. My mom and each kid all have their own iPads. For the first couple of weeks we used a webwhiteboard, but the littles were having a LOT of trouble with it. It's not optimized for iPads. It's easy to click on links in the nav. Different size screens see different regions of the whiteboard. My niece and son kept clearing each other's work and causing fights.
I fixed the board size with selectable orientation (portrait/landscape) and set it to scale + aspect-fits to everyone's device. I added a simple host/guest permission model so my mom has a few teacher permissions that the kids don't have. She can either be in teacher mode (she can draw/clear, they can't), class mode (anyone can draw/clear), or student mode where each kid gets their own private board that she can swap between (she can still draw/clear on student boards).
I was starting to work on more teaching features -- the ability for her to save/load sketches so she could do lesson plans ahead of time, the ability for her to "broadcast" saved boards to the student boards so she could make assignments for each 5yo to fill out. We had kind of a rough stretch where one of the kids or the other would forget their tablet for about a week, though, and my mom got fed up and just ordered them workbooks for all 3 of them that they could do together.
It's still running on Heroku, but I haven't been working on it much lately.
I think this is the right model for small-class whiteboards, but I think you'd have to build a native solution to make it usable for kids that small.
When it worked, it was pretty magical!