White-boarding from home

Before this blog existed I wrote a LinkedIn blog post “What’s on your whiteboard“. Whiteboards, as a rapid iterating development are a favorite of co-workers around the world, so what can we do now working remotely to replicate the “whiteboard experience?”

Gather round the whiteboard…

Before we figure out how to replicate a whiteboard remotely (1) we need to talk about why we whiteboard.

  • Architecture & Stereotypes: (2) Outlining at a conceptual level how the product works.
  • Free-body diagrams: (3) Showing the interactions between forces
  • Note-taking: Sometimes the white board serves as a running checklist of what has been discussed and what has been agreed to.
  • Timelines: Writing out timelines for the project development.

Your virtual whiteboard

In many posts I have written “with Model-Based Design, a single model is evolved throughout the design process”. Let’s take a step back and think now of the system. Can we start using and evolving a system throughout the design process?

Model-Based Design has an answer to the Architecture & Stereotype use case; the collaborative (4) use of tools like System Composer or UML diagrams. What is more, once this collaborative use is established the whiteboard isn’t “erased” at the end of the session, it becomes part of the product.

One thing on note

For mature organizations with an in-place requirements and bug tracking process, “notes” can directly be added to the requirements or bug tracking infrastructure. While not as “easy” as the early white boarding example, capturing these actions during the meeting reduces the possibility of “transcription errors”.

Transcription errors: A cancer in your development process


  1. I do know that many video conference tools offer “whiteboards” but with few exceptions I have not found those to be good environments to rapid prototype in.
  2. Half the time when I think “stereotypes” I think of Cambridge Audio, Sony and Panasonic.
  3. Other fields have their equivalent to FBDs, for now I am using that as a generic term.
  4. The key word though is collaborative, if it is just one person “sketching” the diagram without feedback then while still a powerful tool it is not a “white board” experience.

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