The story of A Web Whiteboard

blog.senko.net
8 min read
fairly easy
Last month, after successful transition of our users to Miro, I shut down the public servers of A Web Whiteboard (AWW App), marking the e...
nd chapter of a decade long story.

Throughout, millions of users have collectively spent a millennia drawing, learning, collaborating, and just having fun with AWW. It's been used in schools, FAANGs and everywhere in between. Early in 2021 we joined forces with Miro, the world's leading online whiteboard platform.

The start of the story is much humbler. I never intended or even imagined it would be a success it has been.

Origins

Ten years ago, back in 2011, netbooks were all the craze. What started some six years earlier with EeePC turned into an entire product category with Cambrian explosion of options. I got my hands on one with a curious feature – a touchscreen. At the time, system UI wasn't at all suited for clumsy fingers instead of precision controlled mouse pointer.

So there I was, back in 2011, trying to find a simple, nice, drawing program for Linux that would work well, UI-wise, with touchscreens. I didn't find any so decided to write my own. I took this as an opportunity to learn HTML and write it as a web app.

It was all pretty rudimentary. You had a pencil in a few colors, eraser, and ability to clean the entire canvas. This first version even lacked the ability to save the result – you could always screenshot the page if you wanted to save.

This wasn't even a side project at the time – just a fun experiment. For kicks, I decided to put it up online and, after thinking for a whole two seconds, named it A Web Whiteboard. Since aww.com was taken, I used awwapp.com for the domain (nameapp.com was a popular way of getting around the domain name squatters at the time).

Sharing

A few months in, someone mentioned it'd be cool if you could actually have multiple people drawing at the same time. I took the suggestion an opportunity to again dabble in new tech. At the time, websockets were just being entering mainstream use and Node was starting its meteoric rise, so I selected it for the synchronization backend and now all-but-forgotten…
Senko Rašić
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