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Conceptboard: An online workspace for real-time collaboration

Looking for a way to brainstorm ideas with your remote team? Conceptboard is a slick new web app that offers an online whiteboard for real-time collaboration. There are plenty of other online whiteboard apps available, but what makes Conceptboard stand out is its array of features, and that it’s optimized to work on the iPad (s aapl). As well as the usual whiteboard drawing tools, Conceptboard allows users to upload files (PDFs (s adbe), documents, images) onto the board and to take screenshots, and also features commenting tools.

After signing up, you can create your first board. Across the top of the board is a menu bar allowing you to upload files, take screenshots to add to the board, scribble on the board with a selection of drawing tools, add comments and selection and zoom controls. Uploaded files are converted and placed on the board; then you can then annotate and comment on them.

You can share the board with your team by clicking the “Invite participant” link at the top-right of the screen to send them an email, or by sending them the URL of the board. Only the person creating the board has to create an account; collaborators don’t have to log in, although if they don’t, any comments they make will then be left anonymously. Boards can be public (which allows anyone with the URL to access them) or private and password-protected. Collaboration is in real-time: If you scribble or comment on the board, your collaborators will also see it on their screens. Comments can be added anywhere, and can be responded to by your collaborators, leaving a conversation thread. Helpfully, comments can also be marked as tasks (either open, critical or closed), with a task list displayed on the right of the screen

Conceptboard can also be used in “presentation mode,” where  the presenter leads the other participants through the board, with their mouse pointer and viewport being transferred to the participants’ screens.

It’s a nicely designed app that works really well, but one criticism I have is that some of the copy is poorly translated (the app was written by a German team). That needs to be cleaned up, as it may make the app more difficult to use for some folks. It’s still a new application, so hopefully that’s something the developers will address.

A basic Conceptboard account, which allows for 25 boards, is free. A Professional account, which offers unlimited boards and more features, such as password protection of boards and SSL encryption, costs $8 per user per month, while an Enterprise account, which allows for company messaging, costs $25 per user per month.

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