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Do you know the modern alternatives to using a whiteboard?
  v13.0 Posted at 29/06/2020 7:37 PM by Harry Phan

​​​​A great way of collaborating a team or presenting a new solution to a client is using a visual display of your recommendations. Using a whiteboard is a great way of collaborating and brainstorming which works quite well. But a physical whiteboard is a large ugly object that takes up a fair amount of room, often isn’t kept clean, and doesn’t allow for people to collaborate remotely. There are modern alternatives that work even better, let's have a look at them. 

Software consultants often use architecture diagrams to present a solution to the client. These graphical representations are used to help all of the stakeholders, the developers, the designers and the clients visualise the high-level structure of the system or application to ensure it covers all of the client requirements. 

architecture_diagram.png
Figure: An architecture diagram exists on established projects after many discussions​.
hand_drawn_diagram.png
Figure: When working with people online, drawing on some paper, taking a photo, and emailing it… is the *least* collaborative way to work​​.
team_whiteboard.jpg
Figure: Teams Whiteboard is a good collaborating tool while working online.​

​#1 Laptop and cast to a monitor (recommended)

Using your laptop or Ipad and then sharing your screen in a remote meeting and is easily saveable/sharable for later. There are many apps that allow you to sketch what you're talking about e.g.:

  • PowerPoint
  • Visio
  • OneNote
  • Mural (collaborative app)
  • Microsoft Teams Whiteboard​​​​​​​
  • Microsoft Whiteboard
  • diagrams.net ​(was draw.io) - often collaborative sketches generated above enable the creation​ of a beautiful architecture diagram​​​​​ (Do you make awesome documentation?​)
Note: these work fine with a mouse, they work even better with touch screens, or pens/styluses
surface-pen.jpg
Figure: Pens/Styluses help to draw better sketches​​

​​​​
Figure: Using Whiteboard in Microsoft Teams​

​​​​
Figure: Using Microsoft Whiteboard App​​
​​#2 Tech Whiteboard replacement
  • Samsung Flip ($3k AUD)

    ​​​​
    Figure: Using Samsung Flip​
    samsung_flip.jpg
    ​​​Figure: Samsung Flip can be flipped from horizontal to vertical​​​
  • Microsoft Surface Hub 2 (about $12K AUD)
     
    Figure: Using Microsoft Surface Hub​

#3 Paper Whiteboard (Low tech – a large piece of paper)

Old school but it is great to have a pen in hand, you can always just grab a big piece of paper and draw on it together.

paperboard.jpg
Figure: Paper whiteboards don't work when someone is in Sydney and the other attendee​​ is in Melbourne

#4 Whiteboard and marker - Low tech (ugly) 

The traditional whiteboard.

Quote from Adam Cogan (apparently not a fan of whiteboards in a tech office):

I believe whiteboards are a sign of an old office… and they are ugly. They’re not a sign of a modern office.
Sometimes they are useful and I know some people really like them (generally older people).
I have seen the digital whiteboards (usually targeted at teachers) but I think they are horrible to use.
The common scenario is for a spec review. I am always happy when I see devs using their device and casting to the TV. And the subsequent notes get saved to Microsoft Teams.

whiteboard_marker.png
Figure: Whiteboards are not a sign of a modern office.​

#5 Writable wall -  Low tech (ugly)

Low tech (ugly) – Paint a wall to be writable or put some writable film on an office glass wall

writable-walls.jpg
Figure: Writable walls can be dirty even after cleaning up​

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