Table of Contents
I Need A Whiteboard!
As I wrote in a previous post, a website I was administrating unexpectedly experienced a disaster recently. I had to work out how to save the data, how to set up a new website, how to move it over to a new web host, and also put forward backup plans on what to do if any of my steps in these processes failed.
I didn’t want to type out my ideas as I was more in the frame of mind to sketch them out, with floating bullet pointed lists, arrows linking things together like a mind map, and wanted a way to quickly cross ideas out which wouldn’t, or proved not to, work. But I also didn’t want to do this on paper as my notepads are small, I wanted to be able to erase stuff quickly too.
As I already had it installed, I settled on using GoodNotes with its support for drawing tablets, and ended up with three landscape pages breaking down the process. As I kept reaching the edges of the pages, I had to make new ones, and it would have been better if I could have just used an endless page. I could have done this in OneNote, but with all my years of academia inside it, the application took forever to load and then I had to make a new notebook and section away from the academia. I just wanted to quickly load a whiteboard up, jot down my thoughts, and save it so I can easily refer back to it if needed, because if I am honest, it was more about the process of sketching those ideas out as a means of thinking through the problem, rather than saving and organising the page neatly for future access.
I stumbled across Lorien, a free and open-source cross-platform desktop whiteboard application, unexpectedly while trying to find a new note taking application (long story, the one I was using isn’t supporting my old Mac anymore, and I will probably make a post about this in the future). While Lorien didn’t solve that issue, it would have solved the issue I had those couple of weeks ago. The application loaded quickly and presented me with a near full screened gridded black canvas. The grid can be toggled on and off, and the canvas changed into any colour you want.
Promptly, I turned off the grid, made the canvas white, turned the ink colour to black (though any colour can be chosen when creating a new palette), and grabbed my drawing tablet. I actually thought to myself “Well, it won’t have pressure support, but I don’t really need that for just jotting things down”, but to my surprise, and without any configuration or tweaking required, Lorien immediately recognised my pen and correctly produced pen strokes which varied depending on the amount of pressure I was applying. I then played around with it a bit more, using its buttons along the toolbar to create squares and straight lines, erase what I had scribbled down, and changing the thickness of these. Alongside the usual undo and redo buttons, there is also sort of ’lasso’ to select elements on the whiteboard to then move around, which would have been helpful a couple of weeks ago as I reorganised steps in the plans I was making.
The application has tabbed browsing, allowing the user to quickly jump between whiteboards, and although uses its own format for saving files (.lorien), clicking the ‘hamburger’ menu on the top-left lets you export the canvas into .PNG instead. The settings, which can also be found there, are simple, but did all I needed them to, covering areas of default settings, language, themes, and rendering options.
As I write this, Lorien is at version 0.40.0, so still in the early stages of its life. It is missing some things, such as different shapes and an option for adding arrow heads to the lines, but I think there is a lot of good here already. I am so happy to have found a quick and easy to use whiteboard application, as many I had bumped into in the past seem to be overloaded with unnecessary features, focus on teams and collaborative business use, and require signing up with accounts. Lorien may be simple, but that isn’t a bad thing when all you want is for something just to load up quickly and work straight out of the box.