A Web Whiteboard: Cross-Platform Collaborative Brainstorming

Every once in a while, a tool is developed that is stunning in it’s simplicity. It’s utility is such that the tool itself fades away, and you wonder how you went so long without it. No, I’m not talking about an Apple product–but if you know Johnny Ive, see if he needs a speech writer.

Today, I’m going to try out A Web Whiteboard: a browser-based, collaborative brainstorming tool created by Senko Rašić, a programmer from Croatia. If you have a whiteboard in your office, or have ever used a whiteboard with colleagues, you are likely aware of the benefits. Personally, I’m a big fan of whiteboards because they’re an easy way to organize your thoughts, even when your thoughts and ideas change on a whim.

A Web Whiteboard takes this process and moves it to your computer, and more importantly, to the web, making easy and efficient collaboration possible, even when you’re miles away.

Interface and Utility

A Web Whiteboard

A Web Whiteboard

The interface for Whiteboard, as I mentioned above, is remarkably simple to the point of near-nonexistence. After you click “Start Drawing”, Whiteboard will launch a clean slate for you to begin drawing on.

AWW's minimal interface keeps you focused on your work.

AWW's minimal interface keeps you focused on your work.

As you can see, there aren’t any complex palettes or a multitude of tools for you to master in order to use Whiteboard. You simply pick a color and brush size and start sketching. Let’s see what we can come up with.

As you can see, I'm no artist.

As you can see, I'm no artist.

Hey, not bad. While Whiteboard may benefit from a small bit more functionality added to tools (like the ability to write text, or more robust line construction), the simplicity is something to admire. It was designed to function like a whiteboard and it does exactly that.

It has often been said that the best way to get your ideas out is with a pen and paper. I have experienced this first hand, as sometimes all of the creativity software in the world can still hinder you from expressing your ideas completely unfettered. A Web Whiteboard can give you this kind of freedom, even when a whiteboard isn’t available.

Sharing and Saving

So the tools available for drawing are pretty simple and straight-forward, but you can draw by yourself on any old piece of paper whenever you want, right? What makes Whiteboard great is the collaboration potential.

To share the session, select "Invite" from the menu, and give the resulting URL to your colleagues.

To share the session, select "Invite" from the menu, and give the resulting URL to your colleagues.

To share your whiteboard with friends or colleagues, click on Menu and then click Invite.  The URL of the webpage will update with a unique string of characters that you can then share with others so that they may join the same whiteboard. Perhaps the best part of this is that it will work on mobile devices, such as your phone or tablet.

AWW running on my iPad.

AWW running on my iPad.

Whiteboard sessions can be saved and exported as PDF files to your desktop, or directly shared to Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. I often work creatively with some colleagues of mine, and I’ve found that saving these whiteboard sessions and attaching them to the other materials we create can help in reconstructing the creative process later.

As I sit here and think about this tool in my hand, I am struck by several very interesting possibilities for using Whiteboard. Suppose you’re having a meeting with some colleagues and there isn’t a whiteboard in the conference room. You can project the whiteboard’s web interface onto the wall or projection screen (or even a large computer monitor) and your colleagues can visit the shared whiteboard on their tablets so everyone can contribute. Finally, export the image and you have proof to show your boss you and your coworkers did more than just talk about your fantasy football league.

Premium AWW

If you love the functionality of A Web Whiteboard so much that you’d like to add it to your own website, the developers offer a 3-tier premium version that you can use with your own audience.

The source code for a basic, unsharable embedded whiteboard is free and can be grabbed right off the site. The developer encourages you to contact him if you’re interested in the second or third tiers, which are sharable with the AWW logo, and sharable with a custom logo, and are $9.99 and $39.99 per month, respectively. If you have a brand or product that could benefit from this sort of addition to your site, I would highly recommend that you get in touch with the developer and support him.

Additionally, there is a Facebook app for AWW that can be used. The link for it is at the bottom of the welcome screen on the Whiteboard webpage.

Conclusion

A Web Whiteboard is a unique take on collaboration via the web. The possibilities for this kind of tool are widespread, and I’m curious to see what people do with it. The web we live and work in today is about collaboration and integration, and AWW is a great step forward not only in terms of web development, but also for working together and effectively communicating your ideas.

Have you tried out A Web Whiteboard yet? Let us know what you think, and if you’ve discovered or developed any creative uses for it!


Summary

A sharable, collaborative web-based whiteboard.

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