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Let me share my bad handwriting with the world real-time.
July 13, 2014 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I have a 12" Galaxy Note Pro and it's beautiful and the pen part is great, but I have a few friends who I'm looking at possibly playing D&D online with, and one of the things I'd really like to be able to do is scribble things on the tablet and have them appear at full resolution in something close to real time on the screens of my friends on their computers. But I have no idea if this is possible or what it'd be called if it is.

So, basically, whatever it is, it has to work on my Android tablet (for capture) and the Windows/Linux/Mac PCs of my friends (for display). Possibly like 5-6 people at a time, more likely more like 2-3. It doesn't need to include the voice chat capability built in, we've already got things that can do that, and I'd like it to work even when voice/video chat is disabled. In particular, I'd like the ability to annotate images this way, so not just a blank white screen but the ability to load pictures and scribble on them.

I feel like there is probably a name for this sort of thing, but I have been sort of at a loss for what it is. I've found things that can share stuff to a single PC (Splashtop) and that can record videos (Explain Everything) but I don't need to control my PC and I do need other people to be able to see what I'm doing over the internet in the moment, not after the fact.

I'm not up for purchasing anything designed for institutional use, but I'd happily consider paid applications for this, or some combination of things if a single app won't do it. (Not hundreds of dollars, but I suspect other people would be willing to pitch in since it's for the group, not just me.) Some minor lag is fine, but I need people to be able to see I'm circling something as I'm talking about the thing I circled without waiting ages to move on to the next thing, but the zippier the better. I hope this is not too convoluted, in my head I can picture exactly how I want this to work but I've never done this before.
posted by Sequence to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
 
try searching for digital whiteboard and terms like collaborative, online, shared.

there's a bunch of different apps/online tools like this for education, so there should be something free/cheap that you could use that could be a very basic version.
posted by sio42 at 1:32 PM on July 13


Yes, seconding education-related - I've seen a couple that my kids have used for online homeschool classes that incorporate most or all of what you describe, but I've never paid attention to the service used, because we were reviewing the instructor, not the software.

Also, keywords like meeting, interactive, conferencing, webinar...
posted by stormyteal at 3:21 PM on July 13


Another suggestion, if the drawing is primarily what you're seeking - try searching these keywords:
interactive online drawing
and see if any of that would work for what you want. The results look promising.
posted by stormyteal at 3:26 PM on July 13


I do appreciate the effort but at this stage this is vague enough that there are hundreds if not actually thousands of search results for some of these things, and virtually all of them an identical thing with a white screen that you can kind of color on, which is not what I want, as I mentioned I'm going to have preexisting images to work off of. Every web version I tried on the first couple pages of search results had serious problems because they clearly weren't designed to adapt for touch, or in one case it did adapt into something that lost all but the most rudimentary features.

I could probably eat up the rest of my life trying every app that bills itself as a whiteboard, and those other words are incredibly generic, they don't provide any kind of a relevant filter. If nobody's ever seen anything like this or nobody who has stumbles across this thread, it's fine, it might not be a thing that actually exists, but I'm just hoping for something a bit more concrete. Specific terminology is helpful, buzzwords not so much. Anyway, I'm not really sure "whiteboard" is the right descriptor for something that involves marking up other things instead of writing on a, well, white board.
posted by Sequence at 4:45 PM on July 13


I think Twiddla is a great collaboration tool. You can definitely load up a bunch of images and mark them up. It's free and darn powerful -- so worth experimenting if you don't like some of the things it does.

Note that it's not an app though -- it's browser based. That shouldn't be an issue however.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:05 PM on July 13


Roll20.net maybe? Not an app, but it's got the images + scribbling built-in. You'd have to check compatibility with your tablet though.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:19 PM on July 13


Note that it's not an app though -- it's browser based. That shouldn't be an issue however.

It is, hence the trouble with the recommendations from people who haven't actually tried things being a bit frustrating for me. Twiddla on mobile seems to be a completely different thing.

I'm not super-thrilled with Roll20 requiring an ongoing subscription instead of a one-time payment, and it's a little quirky (undo works, but there's no button, I had to hook up a keyboard) but it does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin and it's apt to be useful in this context in other ways, so that's awesome.
posted by Sequence at 11:37 PM on July 13


Sorry, I've been using a free Roll20 account, didn't even think to check on pricing. It can be glitchy (hate the audio/visual) and the grids can be screwy as well.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:25 AM on July 14


It is, hence the trouble with the recommendations from people who haven't actually tried things being a bit frustrating for me. Twiddla on mobile seems to be a completely different thing.

You've tried switching Chrome (or your browser of choice) to request desktop, right? In that mode it behaves the same on my android device as it does on my laptop. Or is it just that it has to be an app rather than browser based?
posted by NailsTheCat at 11:07 AM on July 14


Yeah, still have to do some testing to see if Roll20's going to work in practice, but at least for the moment it seems viable, and as long as that's true it's probably still worth the price.

You've tried switching Chrome (or your browser of choice) to request desktop, right?

That works for a lot of things but tends to break things that require special accommodation for the touch features--so to use Twiddla as an example, it loads the right page, but the browser thinks that pressing and holding on a page means you want to move around on the page, not that you want to draw something.
posted by Sequence at 2:44 PM on July 14


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