In episode 89 of MacBites Mike reviewed Whiteboard HD which lead us in to a discussion of how I use Deskscribble during live training sessions.

What is Deskscribble?

Deskscribble is an application for Mac OS X that allows you to draw on top of your Mac desktop over the desktop, any open applications and windows.

You might be wondering why anyone would want to do that but I can assure you that it’s perfect during presentations, demonstrations and live training sessions.

Deskscribble’s features go further than just annotating the desktop though with the addition of the ability to use a whiteboard or blackboard style background for your annotations.

Tools include a pencil, eraser and highlighter. Wacom tablet support adds pressure sensitivity to annotations and eraser capabilities to the Wacom pen.

Presentation Mode enables integration with Keynote and/or PowerPoint presentations. This is an essential for Keynote as natively Keynote has no support for annotations during presentation delivery.

How I Use Deskscribble

I use Deskscribble in two main ways.

First, as a simple white-boarding tool for personal brainstorming or sharing a concept as a diagram.

Secondly, as a tool during live training sessions. I could be illustrating a concept, such as the mail merge concept below, or creating a diagram in response to attendee questions.

Deskscribble - Mail Merge

However I use the tool there are a few features that are essential to my workflow. The first of these is the use of a global shortcut key to invoke the app. There is nothing worse than witnessing a presenter struggle to show the tool they intend to use. The technology is there to support the message so a single global shortcut means I can activate Deskscribble instantly and dismiss it in the same way to carry on the demonstration or explanation using other tools.

Deskscribble - Options

Another essential is the ability to share the diagram or annotation instantly. Deskscribble has three integrated services for this: CloudApp, Flickr and Facebook. Although I prefer a more cost effective and configurable alternative method that I’ll detail in a separate post.

Why Not Use Built In Options?

So why don’t I use the dedicated features of the various conferencing platforms I use for many of my live sessions?

There are a few reasons for that:

  • The implementation varies with each system
  • The effectiveness of each tool differs
  • The features change often without warning
  • There is very little scope for sharing with the built-in options

The biggest benefit is that I only need to master a single tool which means my use of the app is seamless allowing the message to take priority and the attendees have consistency of experience irrespective of conferencing platform.

Deskscribble is from Green and Slimy and available via the Mac App Store for £6.99.