2017-05-20

Drawing on screen

In this post I would like to share my experience regarding drawing on screen.

Now, what do I mean by this? First, consider a pair programming session. Your fellow programmer and you are sitting in front of the screen. You wish to discuss something that is currently on display. For whatever reason your colleague does not get what you want to tell. So you end up pointing at an area on the screen with your finger. While this may work during a one on one, it does not scale well in mob programming sessions. So, you might end up using a laser pointer, just as you might do during ordinary presentations.

But… Why not simply draw on screen?

The idea is far from new, presentation programs have just the right tools for this. The following screenshot shows what Powerpoint offers while in presentation mode.

Choosing how to draw on screen in Powerpoint

Then again, my initial scenario did not involve a presentation. Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduced the Windows Ink Workspace, which you can see in the following screenshot:

Windows Ink Workspace

Screen Sketch takes a screenshot and gives you a couple of drawing tools you can use to annotate, save and share it. However, as you can see in the following screenshot, editing does not take place full screen. The upper right portion of the screen contains the drawing tools. The bottom shows the grayed out taskbar. On my monitor, a saved screenshot was 1728 by 972 pixel, compared to its original resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixel. That border in my opinion limits the impression of directly drawing on screen.

Drawing on a screenshot

A very good alternative in my opinion is Epic Pen. Here is how it looks like:

Screenshot of Epic Pen

The program is (at the time of writing this) free for personal use and has a nice clean interface.

If you are on a Mac, I suggest taking a look at Highlight by Nicolas Zinovieff. It has an even more reduced user interface and offers few paint modes. But in my experience, painting on screen does not require much features. Draw something freehand, draw a circle or a line. That’s it. Remember, I used this to draw someone’s attention to something on display – nothing more.

Do you use similar tools? Which one do you prefer?

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