🌟 Tips and Tricks for using Whiteboards 🌟

Prefer exploring these tips on a whiteboard straight away? Click here to open the corresponding whiteboard in the Welcome Space

Grab a cup of tea, put on your favorite tunes, and let’s dive into the world of creativity! 🎨

Here’s what you’ll discover:

  1. Use the Right Tools: We’ll explore the essential tools at your disposal. From brushes to erasers, we’ll make sure you’re equipped for artistic success.

  2. Make It Look Nice: Beauty lies in the details! Learn how to arrange elements, choose colors, and create eye-catching designs.

  3. Make It Stay Nice 😉: Maintenance matters! Discover tips to keep your whiteboard organized, clutter-free, and visually appealing.

  4. Engage Others: Collaboration is key! Whether you’re brainstorming with colleagues or teaching a class, we’ll cover strategies to involve everyone.

  5. Keyboard Shortcuts: Need to speed things up? We’ve got some nifty shortcuts to boost your productivity.

The Whiteboards on Alkemio utilize the open-source Excalidraw API. Kudos to their remarkable work!

Ready to dive in? Here we go! ✨

🛠️ Using the Right Tools

You might have noticed that the whiteboard has 2 main menus:

  • One on top of the screen for selecting a tool. This menu always has the same items. Feel free to give them a try! 🖌️
  • One on the left for editing elements. This menu is only visible when you select something on the screen. The items that you’ll see in there depend on the element that you selected. For example, a rectangle allows you to change stroke color, background color, fill type, etc., while a piece of text allows for the stroke color, font size, font family, etc. to be changed. 🎨

📝 Text

Although you can use the “text” tool, we recommend using the “Square” tool instead:

  • Draw a rectangle.
  • Double click inside it.
  • Start typing. The rectangle wraps your text to the next line when you’ve reached the border. It will automatically grow in the vertical direction when you add more text than fits.

➡️ Arrows

The arrow tool can be used ‘standalone’, or you can connect it to one (or two) shape(s). Once you select the arrow tool and hover over a shape, a transparent border will appear. Click here to connect the arrow. By attaching it, the arrow will stick to the shape, also when you move the latter. Arrows (and lines) are straight by default, but it is possible to add a curve. To do so, select the arrow, click on the circle in the center, and drag this up or down to create your curve. 🎯

🧰 Other Tools

And there’s more! Don’t hesitate to explore all the tools in the tool menu and the various editing options in the edit menu. You can use different shapes, the pencil tool enables you to draw freehand, you can also upload images, and much more.

📚 Library

Alkemio has a library with many whiteboards that you can use. Click on the “Find Template” button next to the title in the top left of your screen.

🌟 Make it Look Nice

📐 Align & Conquer

Messy whiteboard? Try aligning the content. Quickly select all elements by dragging your mouse across them, and scroll down the edit menu in the left pane. There you’ll find the Align option, which you can use to align all elements to the left, right, bottom, or top. The two buttons on the right allow you to do something even cooler: to evenly divide the space between elements!

Please note that the align options only become visible once you’ve selected multiple elements. When elements are already grouped together, you’ll have to ungroup them before you can align.

Aligning elements on the go? Try copying a block by selecting it, and then holding the alt-key when you drag your mouse away. If you also hold the shift-key, the element automatically aligns horizontally or vertically with the origin.

🎨 Using Background Colors & Strokes

  • Tip 1: Do not use the striped Fill behind text.
  • Tip 2: Make sure that there is enough contrast between the text and the background color.
  • Tip 3: Be careful with black text on a darker background, aside from the weak contrast, it just doesn’t really look nice.
  • Tip 4: make a choice. Use a border or a background color, not both (unless you have a very good reason…)

↔️ Separating the Border Color from the Text Color

To make the border color different from the text color, follow these steps:

  • Select the block and change the stroke color for the stroke.
  • Double-click inside the block to select the text.
  • Now select the right stroke color for the text. If you have the text selected, the border color of the block will not change.
  • Copy this block to use elsewhere so you don’t have to repeat these steps.

🏰 Make it Stay Nice

🪢 Grouping Elements

If you have a nice structure in place, you don’t want it to get mixed up when you or someone else changes (eg) some text. Select all the elements that you want to group together, right-click on your mouse and choose “group selection”. These things now stay together. You can drag them around as a whole, or edit content inside the group by clicking on the element a couple of times to get “inside” the group. 🧩

🔒 Locking Elements

When working with various elements on a whiteboard, mistakes are prone to happen. Especially background blocks get moved by accident all. the. time. To prevent this from happening, you can lock things that shouldn’t be changed. Right-click the element and select “Lock” or use the keyboard shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + L. Unlocking the element also goes very easy: right-click on it and choose “Unlock” or CTRL + SHIFT + L. Unlocking everything on the whiteboard can be done by right-clicking an empty place on the board and choosing “Unlock all”. Locking multiple elements? Consider grouping them first! This way, you can unlock everything at once, instead of having to unlock every item separately when you need to make a couple of changes. 🔒

🔢 Selecting Multiple Objects

To select multiple objects that you want to group, lock, or move, you can do so by holding down the SHIFT key while clicking on each object. Another way to select multiple objects quickly is to drag your mouse around the objects. Make sure to encircle everything completely, because if you miss even a small corner, the object won’t be selected. Please note that any items that are currently locked will not be included in this selection. 🖱️

⌨️ Keyboard Tips

🖱️ Navigation

Press the space bar of your keyboard to turn your mouse pointer into a little hand. Click somewhere on the board, hold your mouse pressed and drag it around. This is a quick way to move to another place on the board if you know where you need to go. If you’re unsure where to go, use the little button next to the zoom controls to get an overview of the entire board. If you hold down the SHIFT key while scrolling with your mouse wheel, you can scroll horizontally on the whiteboard instead of vertically.

👯‍♂️ Duplicating Elements

Instead of copying and pasting, you can duplicate an element by selecting it, pressing the ALT key, and dragging it to the desired location. When duplicating elements while holding SHIFT, they will remain aligned horizontally or vertically with the original element.

📏 Quickly Scaling Text

Sometimes the font size is simply too big to nicely fit in your design. When this text is inside a shape and you don’t want to resize the shape, simply select all text in it (CTRL+A) and use the keyboard combination above.

🆙 Move Forward/Backward or to Front/Back:

Use your CTRL key together with the square bracket keys to move items forward or backward. You might need to click a couple of times before you get the right result, so often it is faster to move one of the objects completely to the front or back. When adding an object, simply put it to the background by clicking CTRL+SHIFT+[. This makes it very simple to later add a background to your board: just put it on top of everything and then use this keyboard shortcut.

👥 Engaging Others

🔒 Lock!

Make sure to lock all elements that others shouldn’t be changing. Consider grouping them first, so it’s quicker to unlock parts of your whiteboard when you need to edit something.

📄 Prepare Text Blocks

During interactive sessions, consider adding text blocks with a placeholder, such as “”, for people to copy and use. You can also use blocks in different colors and assign each color to a different person in advance. This way, you can easily distinguish who added what during the session.

🟪 Use Background Blocks

Consider using blocks to break down multi-step processes or questions into manageable chunks.

I hope these improved instructions help you and others to use whiteboards on Alkemio more effectively! 😊