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So as both a full-time programmer and hobbyist as well (developing my own things for personal use and maybe to sell one day), I feel that me purchasing a big white board to hang in my room at home or something would be very useful.

Does anyone here have one as well, to use for high level designs (UML, Architecture, etc.) and things like very early UI mockups, etc.?

If you guys do have them, which ones have you bought? I can't seem to pin one that would be good for home use and I'm not sure of the pricing/other things.

Thanks!

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possible duplicate of How do you take advantage of your whiteboard in your development team? –  Josh K Dec 22 '10 at 15:31
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@Josh K - I'm not so sure. I don't think it is. –  Craige Dec 22 '10 at 15:46
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How can this question have an answer? –  adamk Dec 22 '10 at 15:50
    
I have a little one about 8" square - never felt the need for bigger. If I really need bigger I use the bathroom mirror! –  Michael K Dec 22 '10 at 16:48
    
you realize this whole site's design was inspired by a whiteboard.. right? blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/12/… –  Jeff Atwood Dec 23 '10 at 7:07
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11 Answers

I miss my whiteboard.

We used to be in a small room with a small 3-4 person team, a whiteboard and a door. Some of our best designs were created on that whiteboard.

Then they moved us into an open plan area with no privacy, no whiteboard and too much noise. Surprise, surprise productivity and morale has dropped :-(

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Open plan sucks, too busy. –  Orbling Dec 23 '10 at 1:28
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A white board is probably the most important collaboration tool available to people physically together. The key reason is that it allows you to easily draw what you think of so others can read it, and then they can draw etc.

Personally I would like every flat surface in our offices to be whiteboards, but others disagree. Hence the office I sit in have a single whiteboard, with space around it allowing for impromptu meetings, which has proven to work very well.

I consider a whiteboard to be essential in our daily work.

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I use a large full length mirror instead of a white board, mainly because it was already present in the room. I use it mainly for diagrams to think about, as well as TODO lists. It also helps me stay on my diet.

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Isn't it a pain to read on? –  Mark C Dec 22 '10 at 23:45
    
It's only difficult when the light is lower. It's a bit like a highly reflective laptop screen, in that you can concentrate on the foreground over the reflected background. On the other hand since I don't look at the mirror a whole lot, it's not as annoying as a reflective screen. –  ergosys Dec 23 '10 at 6:21
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I have a small paper sized white board that I use constantly. I use it for high level designs, quick calculations, unit testing, etc. It is very useful and more environmentally friendly because I was going through a lot of paper before I had my white board. I find the smaller desk white board is more convenient because you can bring it with you if you need to show someone something.

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I found a glass top from a coffee table at a garage sale. I made a couple of brackets and screwed it to the wall in my office, and that's what I use. My office walls are a light yellow, so most markers show up pretty well.

I considered building something with a piece of plywood and some white ceramic tile, but I found the piece of glass first.

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I use the whiteboard for everything. It seems to help me work through problems much more easily and I find myself thinking about ideas much deeper when using a whiteboard.

If you're put off by the prices of large whiteboards, they have paint that you can use to cover an entire wall. Then you're able to simply draw on the walls. I haven't done it myself but a co-worker has and he swears by it. Here is an example.

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How long does the paint keep a good surface, any idea? –  ergosys Dec 23 '10 at 6:32
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I find they are most useful for discussing technical issues with other people. Sometimes it is better to draw a diagram, make a list, etc than to just talk through a problem.

So... installing one at your home may not be much help if its only going to be you that is working at that location. If that is the case you might consider investing in a few notebooks instead. That way it gives you the same benefits of working things out visually, but you can keep track of old notes. Plus, if you are the only person working there, you don't need to draw up big diagrams where everyone can see them.

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On the other hand, sometimes you just need a bigger piece of paper. –  DominicMcDonnell Dec 22 '10 at 20:43
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I got one at home. Sometimes I make big plans on it so that I can remember "The Plan" when I get my head up. I write the defails on papers. I think that board would have been used really more if I was not alone in my dev. –  Klaim Dec 23 '10 at 10:56
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I forget the specific name, but if you go to any hardware store you should be able to pick up big (4'x8') slabs of plastic white wall coverings, for bathrooms and the like.

They work well as whiteboards, are huge, and are way cheaper.

We had several in our dorm room in college for our bigger projects. I miss them now at work.


Alternatively I used to have a female co-worker that was fairly artsy. She would get a big poster frame and put fancy but mono-chromatic patterned paper/cloth behind it. Then used the frame as a whiteboard.

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You're thinking of melamine. Melamine whiteboards suffer from ink permanently staining them though, something the proper porcelain whiteboards do much, much better at. –  whatsisname Dec 22 '10 at 15:51
    
True, they do require a little bit more work cleaning up after a while, but you do save in upfront cost. –  Ben Dec 22 '10 at 19:04
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I use them for high level quick sketches in the beginning, even if it's only me working on something. Beyond that they tend not to get used.

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I definitely make use of a whiteboard at home and at work. I don't know brand names specifically but at work we tend to have rather large boards (6 feet wide by about 4 feet tall) and they cost several hundred dollars. At home I have a smaller board (4 x 3 feet) that I picked up at my local office supply store for about $30-$40.

I've been told you can use a product called "showerboard" from a local hardware store. It comes in large sheets but I'm not sure how good it is with the markers.

Another option you could use is a piece of glass (ex: in the move "A beautiful mind"). You could paint the glass white on one side. I actually did this on a small scale for a gaming table I built, works very well.

As for uses ... I use my whiteboard at home as a design station for home/side projects, I write reminders to myself and little notes. The whiteboard at work is used primarily as a design studio. When we gather as a team to go over a project we lay our designs out on the whitebaord and we can easily tweak them without going through alot of trouble. When we're all done we take a picture with a digital camera and save/print it.

If you had a "smartboard" you could print whatever you wrote on it but smartboards cost a pretty penny more so they're not practical at home and are only generally affordable by companies of a decent size.

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Wow $30-$40 is good. Is your local store Staples? haha –  Scott Dec 22 '10 at 15:35
    
@Scott that'd be it ! they're not the best whiteboards money can buy but they're adequate. –  Scott Vercuski Dec 22 '10 at 15:48
    
the office store's boards are typically Melamine, while the several hundred dollar boards are likely porcelain, a vastly superior material for the purpose. –  whatsisname Dec 22 '10 at 15:53
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The common solution to the printing problem is to keep an inexpensive camera handy (or just use your phone). Take a picture of the board, download, and e-mail to all concerned. –  TMN Dec 22 '10 at 20:02
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I don't tend to use a white-board when working alone, but as a communication / collaboration tool when working with others.

Some use them as Kanban boards, and for other similar tracking purposes as well.

As such, if I was working in a one-person shop, I would not likely put one up.

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+1 Every whiteboard in companies where I have worked eventually becomes a Kanban board. –  Orbling Dec 23 '10 at 1:27
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