December 8, 2011
As HTML5 continues to supplant the familiar (but faltering) Flash-powered internet, significant advances continue to provide the mobile web with native support for elegant, simple, touch-friendly input. To that end, a small team out of Blacksburg, Virginia, has created SketchWith.Us. The lightweight project is described by co-creator Brian Hazzard as
a real-time collaborative drawing web app...based on modern web technologies (HTML5: Canvas, Sockets), so it works beautifully on mobile Safari.Since SketchWith.Us doesn't rely on proprietary plugins, it's compatible with any current browser and Apple's entire iOS line. Users can draw together, regardless of individual platform; and the results are surprisingly good for such a low-key, beta project. Of course, the experience has its shortcomings. The invite system is needlessly clunky, requiring users to add friends via distributed link (which must be manually --and meticulously--copied and pasted), and folks arriving late to the party won't be able to see anything drawn before their arrival. Browser refreshes and device locks will also halt all session progress, so participants must remain active even as they passively observe the unfolding art. And, naturally, more players means more lag. Planned updates to SketchWith.Us include live chat, social network integration, and support for photo-sharing services. And, as with any capacitive drawing endeavor, everything's always better with an oStylus.