I’ve been researching web-based whiteboarding tools to help facilitate remote design discussions, and I’ve found three free tools that are outstanding.
- Thinkature is my #1 pick for software-specific whiteboarding, because it’s geared more towards creating diagrams than drawing. For example, it’s super easy to create boxes (just double-click), and populate them with text (double click inside the box). Linking two boxes is also straightforward, and the freehand drawing is decent. It also includes a built-in chat feature and voice chat, neither of which I tested. Note: at the time of this writing the freehand drawing is broken in IE7. I emailed support this morning and they already emailed back indicating they will look into it. Good support for a free service!
- Vyew is my second choice. The UI is cooler than Thinkature, but I found it a little more daunting right off the bat, as it took me a few minutes to work through all the features. Although its freehand drawing capability is better than Thinkature, it’s more cumbersome to create boxes with text inside, which is at least 70% of what I do on a whiteboard when I’m talking about software. Vyew also includes a free voice conference line (though it’s not an 800 number), and standard text-chat. All in all it’s a solid service for the price (free).
- Imagination Cubed is an honorable mention based on its super clean UI that works exactly like you’d expect. More for simple drawing than diagramming, it has limited shape support, no chat, and no ability to delete drawn items. Although it lacks advanced features, it does what it does while looking cool.