Digital Whiteboard

Whiteboard image with mind-mapOne of the latest gadgets in the StoryCase office is a Intuous drawing tablet from Wacom. I remember getting a Wacom tablet many years ago when it needed an RS232 cable and separate power supply. It never really got used mainly due to the fiddly interface (was it 8 bit, parity or no parity?) and wires that just got in the way. These new models are so much easier – just one usb plug and you’re up and running or there’s even a wire free one if you want.

Somehow in the last office move I lost my whiteboard and so I thought it would be good to try and hook up a digital one instead. Of course the ubiquitous iPad could be used but there’s something about holding a pen in the hand that makes writing and doodling for me so much more natural. So I fired up Photoshop on the MacBookPro and started with a blank canvas 1200x780px. I claimed it “My Whiteboard” and added “Do not erase!” on the background layer to add some reality (yes, it’s tempting fate especially when saving on the project share).

Next I added a new layer with today’s date and began with a mindmap of tasks I’d been thinking about and needed to focus on. Changing company name has generated a myriad of stuff to do and the linear todo lists had just grown longer. The whiteboard helped us see the dependencies so we ‘d spend less time arguing why we’d actioned things in the wrong order – another story, when I get a minute.

Soon the layers build up into a digital version of the whiteboard that seems really quite useful. Toggling the layer visibility makes it easy to see what’s changed and when and if you want to try a new branch of ideas just fill the layer to obscure the previous doodles. Okay, there have been many attempts at virtual whiteboards already – Trello, EasyChalk, Uniboard or integrated into Livemeeting for example, but a simple multiple layer approach in PSE or Photoshop works fine if you want to be creative with doodles. “My Whiteboard” is shared on the office NAS so we can all participate and there are separate Kanbans for each project we’re working on.

So did the new Wacom get used? Well yes, just need to add the whiteboard pen aroma to complete the user experience!

Postscript – we’re evaluating digital whiteboard solutions and the cloud based Trello is our current favorite so if you have not seen what it can do why no try it out? : – it’s currently free!