iPad

Easy whiteboarding with ScreenChomp for iPad

If you're addicted to your whiteboard to sketch out ideas and help organize your thoughts, you might find this free whiteboarding app for the iPad to be your go-to, portable alternative.

Take a look around your office. Is there a white board hanging nearby? Many IT professionals (myself included) find the whiteboard to be an easy way to sketch out a problem or list key information for projects they are working on. This may change for iPad users, who might want to try a portable whiteboard alternative.

TechSmith released ScreenChomp for iPad this week. Intrigued by the name of the application, I had to check it out. The company says that the app is geared for educators and presenters, but I immediately thought of the whiteboard in my cube. This app might just allow me to replace (or at least augment through technology) the whiteboard hanging on the wall, or -- in my case -- sitting on the floor.

What does it do?

ScreenChomp is a free whiteboarding application for the iPad. It allows users to draw on the screen like they might on a dry erase board. Taking notes and being able to organize your thoughts visually is the biggest use, additional features notwithstanding. Have you ever wanted to share your whiteboard with someone not in the room? ScreenChomp allows you to do that.

When I first got into the application, I wasn't sure what to expect beyond a drawing app, but the ability to use background images and to record my sessions was something that caught my eye very quickly.

Figure A

ScreenChomp

Who is it for?

The app is intended for educators or presenters to allow them to share their whiteboard with others. After using the app for a bit, I think that it might present a great opportunity to extend the whiteboard for IT professionals - diagramming networks, establishing workflows, organizing project steps, etc., are all things you can accomplish with ScreenChomp.

When you get into the app, tap the easel in the bottom left corner. From here you can select an image to use as the background for your whiteboard; Figure B shows the iPad home screen selected as a background image.

Figure B

Background images

Once you have selected an image, you can pinch it to zoom and rotate that image before applying it to the session.

Tapping Done will add the background.

Note: You can only use one background image at a time and you will need to specify the image before recording a drawing session.

Moving right on the control bar of the application, the next option is the Towel. The Towel is used for clearing ink from the screen just like you might use a towel to wipe off a board when finished. Tap and hold the towel to wipe the surface clean.

You can select from up to 12 different pen colors across three pens, meaning three different colors can be available at any one time. This allows you to change colors quickly during a presentation.

To the right of the Pens is the eraser. This will clear portions of a drawing it touches from the screen and can be used to correct or change items you have drawn.

Figure C

The toolbar

The last button on the toolbar is the Record button. You can't do that with a wall hanging whiteboard (without a bunch of equipment).

When you press record, the countdown begins so you have a second or two to get ready. Then, the app records not only the drawing you do on the screen, but audio as well. You can give a full whiteboard presentation right from the iPad.

Figure D

Get ready to record

Once you have made your recording, tap the Stop icon in the bottom right of the screen. You will then be able to preview the recording you made and share it with ScreenChomp.com (a free service provided by TechSmith) or Facebook.

To share with ScreenChomp.com tap the ScreenChomp icon, to share with Facebook, tap the Facebook logo. When sharing to Facebook, you will be prompted to log in to your account.

Note: At the time of this writing, web access to ScreenChomp.com was not available, but shared items were visible within the app.

Once you have shared a video, it appears in the list at the top of the application, allowing you to view previously created sessions.

If you tap and hold the Trashcan icon on the lower left corner of the preview screen, the recording will be discarded.

This way you can share the whiteboard with others who may need to see it without needing them to huddle around the whiteboard in your office or your iPad.

Figure E

Share and share alike

Standout features

There are three features that stand out to me:

  • Traditional whiteboarding -- being able to use an interface that works like a whiteboard is just nice, and the simple UI allows this to be used with little to no learning curve.
  • Screen capture -- recording the screen of the application is great because I might need to reuse items that I had drawn, the simple UI of this app makes that a snap to do.
  • Sharing -- sharing drawings with others is a nice touch, although being able to stream between nearby devices would be awesome as well. (That might be something Apple needs to work out first). Making drawings available via Facebook is a great start.
Bottom Line

ScreenChomp is a simple drawing application with one hugely complex feature, recording. I realize that screencasting is something TechSmith has been doing for a while, but the simplicity of this app combined with its feature set is awesome. IT pros would find this little app very useful when planning or brainstorming portions of any IT project.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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