An incubator of ideas, projects, and collaborations
Review by Kathy McCurley, 2017
Reatime Board claims to be an online edition of a whiteboard that allows you to type, draw, post photos, videos and more in a realtime collaborative discussion. You can see the basic premise of their software in their introductory video below:
What is RealtimeBoard? from RealtimeBoard on Vimeo.
Price: Free with paid upgrade options available
Platform: Browser based and Apps available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices
Integration: Connects with a multitude of products, including: Slack, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Creative Cloud, and more
Getting started is fairly straightforward and the program offers integration with products that you might already use which adds to the ease of implementing this application to your current process. You can create an account through the use of your email, Facebook, or Google accounts.
Realtimeboard: Getting started from RealtimeBoard on Vimeo.
Ease of Use:
There is a level of learning curve present in learning to use this device. If you are familiar with working with mind-mapping softwares then the basics of the application should be fairly simple to acquaint yourself with. The application does provide helpful hints as you start using it. The company also does a wonderful job at providing video tutorials and guides that can get you up and running in a matter of minutes and then provide the skills to really make your boards shine.
RealTime Board also has the capability to sync with your Slack and a few other communication apps so that all your notifications can arrive in one place. If you already use Slack for company communication and you add RealTime Board you can tie both accounts and get your RealTime Board communications directly in Slack with the rest of your daily communications, ideally simplifying your digital collaboration process.
As of original posting of this review upon sign-up you receive 30 days of free access to the "Team" package with 5 members. But here's what you can expect to find. (For more details about pricing, features, and packages go here.)
- 3 team members
- 3 boards
- Includes features such as Guest viewers and integration with Slack
- Starts with 5 members for $40/month (price adjusts per number team members you choose for access)
- Unlimited boards
- Includes features such as video chat, screen sharing, guest commentary
- Email support
- 50+ team members
- Contact for pricing
- Allows for multiple teams, day passes, and activity reports
After looking into the application it became time to test it. To give it a try I decided to give it a whirl using some characters and information from a story that a friend and I work on together. It has a lot of information, characters, and details to keep track of - a good trial scenario that involves a lot of elements that need to be sorted and arranged. It seemed like a good, small scale of what might happen in a large scale project. There were a few things that I noticed:
RealTime Board allows you to do a lot of the things that a mind-map software, such as Popplet, allows you to do. You can connect items, copy/paste, move elements around. It allows you to insert a variety of elements as you can see above. If you insert a link on one item, one click can take you right to the next. This would be helpful for cause and event elements. Another helpful item is that it comes with some template boards that can be modified for your own use, which is what I did. I turned a sample client template into a character sheet.
You have the capability to insert videos via <iframe> codes and documents, and then either view directly in your board or go to the source. For example, you can preview a document by clicking through the pages, then hop into the actual Google Doc to perform edits or enter that level of functionality.
One thing I noticed while drawing connecting lines is that they are a "one way trip." This is problematic for connecting items in a dual direction. For example, making connections between characters for relationships, I would normally draw double ended arrows to show equal levels of relationship, and a single direction arrow for a relationship with unequal footing. You are able to draw straight lines though.
Another thing that mildly bothered me was when it came time to move items around, you need to remember to press SHIFT, then click and drag to select multiple elements - something that became pretty frustrating in lining up the character templates because each box and text area is a separate item. Additionally when you upload/attach a new item it will drop it overtop of another element in the board, fairly regularly; unless you remember to drag over into an area with no elements.
It has also been discovered (through my co-tester) that in order to edit the board you must have the app on your mobile device. My co-tester was able to join my board and team, but couldn't get any further.
The board is starting to take more shape. Items are being organized into better groupings.
The price is a big downfall in my book. The free account is very limited, at this point I'm concerned about items that I'm getting used to that will be revoked at the end of my 30 days. To implement this device among a reasonable number of people (more than 3) is going to be quite expensive - it appears to be about $8/month per person. This price point is what makes this tool intended more for businesses versus an educational setting. (Do the math for a staff of a school, let alone trying implement it for students...)
There doesn't appear to be a grouping setting for this tool. As the board spreads and grows it would be immensely helpful to be able to group certain elements together so that they always stayed together when being organized, especially if adding captions/descriptions to files and attachments to help make sense of their importance to the collaboration.
While RealTime Board is a great application, the small group size available for free (3 - only 3!) and the large expense of implementing it for a larger group make this a tool that I won't be using full time at any point in the near future. As I've started organizing plot points with it and character info I may keep going with this board as it only requires access by 2 individuals.