I had a pleasant surprise a couple of weeks back to see that Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams meeting and in the web version has gotten a new look and also some new functionalities. I will highlight to you in this blog post what it is all about.
When you create a Teams meeting and open it again to edit (organizer) or to view (participant) mode you can see there is a Whiteboard tab available. That has been there “always” but I wanted to highlight it’s existence in case you have missed it. Whiteboard can be then prepared and used already before the meeting to work together or prepare content for the actual meeting.
It is also good to keep in mind that Whiteboard in Teams meeting, in a web and in Android application are the same (“Web version of Whiteboard”) while Whiteboard application in Windows and other platforms provides a different experience. Since I am a Windows + Android user I unfortunately don’t have first-hand experience to share how Whiteboard works on iOS app. Note to self: Perhaps I really should get a iPad..
New look and feel
Clicking open Whiteboard that the first thing you notice is the new look! It means new style & colors in icons in the Whiteboard in Teams meeting.
As can be seen in the picture, I didn’t open the actual meeting and shared the Whiteboard there. Instead I just worked on the Whiteboard connected to Teams meeting directly via the calendar event.
New options for pens
Pens got new options in Teams/Web that had existed before. Now it is possible to change pen thickness and color easily.
Many of us, who are not that good in handwriting, can use text box to provide text to the Whiteboard. You can change it’s color too.
Using different colors can help a lot to visualize your message. Changing color of text box changes it to all text in the same box. Feel free to add more text boxes if you need to highlight text in different colors… or use highlighter to bring forth parts of text! (keep on reading)
As usual – Whiteboard is not the optimal tool for co-authoring text together. Just like you would not do it on the real whiteboard either. It is intended to collect and evolve ideas and perspectives quickly to provide grounds for working together later.
I really like highlighter now! With the recent update you can change it’s thickness and color in Teams as well.
Highlighter works very nicely to emphasize parts of text or other objects as well. Now with new colors option this even better! And as highlighter is just like any other object/element in Whiteboard you can move them around by dragging them.
Sticky notes / postit notes
These haven’t changed too much recently. It is easy to add them and change their color.
Just like earlier it is not possible to change text color in the note. However you CAN ink on top of the note if you want to.
NEW: Add shapes or lines
The really fresh part are new shapes and lines in Whiteboard menu!
These shapes allow to add easily good looking elements to the board like flowcharts or processes, decision points, workflows or just elements to highlight your board. On default they will be filled.
You can change (or remove) the fill color but also the outline color – allowing to create a lots of variation if you need to.
You can also open Whiteboard in the Whiteboard app (Open in app) but I recommend to check behind settings (gear)menu:
Export-image downloads the whiteboard result to you as a png. Check out your Downloads-folder.
Other participants can edit is something that you can use to your advantage: prepare the whiteboard in advance and limit others from doing any changes to it. This is good especially if you don’t know about your audience: would they go and make changes in accident or deliberately. Lock it to your use only and release it during the meeting or when you want others to participate in it.
Currently there is no version history nor recycle bin for Whiteboards. That is why it is important to export results.
Whiteboard application versus Teams whiteboard: pay attention what features you use
Whiteboard application doesn’t support these new shapes that are available in Teams Whiteboard:
Vice versa there are lots of superb features in Whiteboard application. locking content, editor attribution etc are available for App users. But not all of them work in Teams Whiteboard: Notegrid and templates are examples of those which ones don’t work. However it is good to note that some features, like adding a PowerPoint or pictures to the board, show up properly in Teams version as well.
Looking this notegrid in Teams reveals us this:
And as Teams Whiteboard = Web Whiteboard = Android Whiteboard we can see that notegrid is not available but shapes we used in Teams work perfectly.
I was happy to see that all these new features work nicely in mobile version as well.
And new shapes can be see in the toolbar at bottom.
Whiteboard with guests
When you add a Whiteboard app to your team channel it also allows every guest in the team to use the Whiteboard. Including these new controls!
Whiteboard can be added normally, just like any other app, to the team
These latest additions to Whiteboard Web/Teams/Android version are great and I especially enjoy the new look and possibilities with pens & highlighters. The biggest question mark is the shapes part that does not work with Whiteboard app – if you know you will have people using App as well then it needs some guidance for users to avoid using Shapes for now. But that is also good to keep in mind that people using App have to avoid using some features if there are others who use Teams/Web/mobile version of Whiteboard.
Unfortunately there still isn’t a possibility to use Whiteboard with externals in Teams meeting. That and Whiteboard files in SharePoint Online are scheduled for September 2021 in the roadmap. During summer 2021 (June-July) there are items for Whiteboard in the roadmap: locking content (prevent editing specific part of the whiteboard, this is in Whiteboard app alread), attribution (who is editing it, this is seen in Whiteboard app already) and additional facilitation features. The last one doesn’t have much details but I am hoping it would include voting that is already in the Whiteboard app.