About

The Story Of Roger’s Math Whiteboard

As the current project maintainer and, at the moment, the sole programmer behind Roger’s Math Whiteboard, here is the story of why I, (Roger Frybarger), created this program:

     As an in-class math tutor, I saw many problems with the whiteboard programs that were currently available. In many cases I felt that they failed to meet the needs of STEM instructors. Here are just a few of the problems that I saw:

  • Teachers would often write things on the interactive whiteboard, and have them automatically turned into gibberish.
  • Teachers were often unable to tell whether they were in mouse mode or pen mode and would end up moving the page when they intended to write on it.
  • Simple things like graph paper & the Cartesian coordinate templates were usually buried several layers deep in the program, if they were present at all, which generally discouraged their use.
  • Many programs were bloated with tools of questionable usefulness, while simultaneously missing important tools such as an eraser or a line tool.
  • Many programs consisted of features tacked onto existing programs as an after thought. Those that were designed around the idea of teaching did not fully consider the specific needs of math & science teachers.
  • Some tools would work only with a specific operating system & hardware configuration and not on any other systems.
  • Students often couldn’t see what the teacher was pointing at if they only saw the screen on which the teacher was presenting.
  • It was seldom easy to insert screenshots into the document during the presentation.
  • Many popular programs were costly and proprietary, forcing institutions to cough up the money to purchase them while significantly reducing their ability to shape their future.
  • In many cases, these programs required a significant amount of training to operate properly, which significantly added to their upfront implementation cost, and/or left users without the necessary skills.

     However, even with all of these problems, I saw that this technology could have tremendous potential if only it were designed properly! For example, using a touchscreen device instead of a whiteboard/chalkboard could mean:

  • No more pens that run out of ink.
  • No more erasers that wear out or get lost.
  • No more whiteboard/chalkboard mess.
  • No more running out of space.
  • The ability to easily share content via email or other means, (No more taking pictures with phones).
  • Enhanced editing features such as undo, re-do, perfectly drawn shapes, pre-made templates, etc.
  • The ability to easily insert content from electronic textbooks or course material via screenshots while presenting.
  • Better compatibility with distance education through screen sharing.

     In summary, I saw a technology with tremendous potential that was not being fully utilized largely because of poorly designed whiteboard programs! Over the past several years, I have spent countless hours of my free time trying to fix that.

     My first attempt was written in Java/Swing, which I ultimately found was not well suited for doing what I needed to do. The second attempt, this time using C#/.net, didn’t go much better. For my third try, I built a Chrome app which, at the moment, has been quite a success. Unfortunately at about the same time that I published this Chrome app, Google decided to end Chrome apps for Windows, Mac & Linux. Thus I was forced, yet again, to start from scratch. Luckily I found Electron and was able to transfer over a significant portion of my source code, thus reducing the re-work required. With that now finished, I hope to move on to building apps for Android & potentially iOS as well.

     Throughout the process of building Roger’s Math Whiteboard, I have done my best to ensure compatibility with various touchscreens and similar devices. (You can read all about these experiments on the Hardware Suggestions page.) I have also manually tested all of the features of Roger’s Math Whiteboard on most of the modern operating systems regularly throughout the development process. Thus, I have done my best to build quality into the code from the very beginning.

 

Credits:

I, (Roger Frybarger), would like to thank the many people and entities who have helped make Roger’s Math Whiteboard possible. I would especially like to thank:

1. My mother Becky for sharing her design perspective.

2. The GitHub & Electron teams for creating and maintaining the Electron framework on which this program is built.

3. Mohave Community College, EJ Media on YouTube, w3schools.com, Stackoverflow.com and codecademy.com for helping me hone my programming skills.

4. Timothy Mayo, Laurel Clifford, and Chris Reed for keeping me motivated to build this app.

5. WordPress.com and CodePen for allowing us to have this website.

6. All of our faithful users who write reviews, submit bug reports, give us new ideas, etc.

Also, the following people have personally contributed code or other work to this project:

1. Austin Covington (Features List).

 

Also, If you would like to know more about me, (Roger Frybarger), please see my profile page.

Last updated Nov 12, 2017