Collaborative whiteboarding applications can be handy tools for small groups looking to do some brainstorming despite geographical displacement. Meet Twiddla, a free tool that lets you mark up media and live Web sites, or simply organize ideas together on a virtual whiteboard. It also tacks on live communication with text chat and free VoIP conference calling that doesn't require additional plug-ins or software.
The application won an award for technical achievement at last night's SXSW Interactive Web Awards. While technologically fantastic, in my testing I ran up against some noticeable speed and local resource problems. At times I found the application to be nearly unusable despite its simple interface and snappy menus. At other times it was incredibly responsive.
In any case, Twiddla's packing a lot of features that might attract users of premium paid collaborative services such as ConceptShare and Octopz who are seeking a very simple way to get feedback on Web design or photography. It could also easily replace WebEx for a large number of people who use the tool simply for its text chat and shared work space.
One of Twiddla's killer applications is the built-in screenshot tool. It will snap the current iteration of the whiteboard and save it into both your saved media folder and the meeting's history archive. For photo or Web design consulting, this gives you the option of coming back to a work space and editing content asynchronously.
I'm holding off on giving Twiddla a thumbs up for the time being. It simply didn't perform as well as I think it should to make me ditch some of the alternatives. However, I'm happy to see some little guys come up and show WebEx and others like the recently Google-acquired Marratech what can be done on the user interface side to make these tools simple and attractive.