Discussion of Freeform

I thought it would be engaging and helpful to discuss our thoughts on Freeform and how we plan to use it. Also, how we see it integrating with our apps and workflows.

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I was surprised to discover, when I first fired it up, that when I answered “Yes” to turn on cloud syncing that it opened up settings, but then I had to figure out (all by myself!) that I had to switch to the cloud section, scroll down, then flick on the freeform syncing option.

That’s very clumsy and, I imagine, will lose a lot of less skilled (or less interested) folk.

That said, once I got in it looks like a pretty, but basic, tool for drawing pictures. I’m not sure if I’ll use it because I have Miro (and a bunch of other things) but it looks like a solid foundation.

For folks like me who aren’t keeping up:

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Very simple. Just remove all your subscriptions and stick with this app.

I’ve eliminated all but three subscriptions so I’m close. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks for reminding me about this. I just downloaded it on my iPad and am messing around with it. Does this have the “infinite canvas” that Sparky is always lamenting about? The sharing ability makes it very appealing to me as well.

Yes it does. …

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Hmmm. I was going to say it is not an infinite canvas. If you open one, you will find you can zoom between 10% and 400% and there is a very clear bounded area that you can see.

However, if you drag an item to the edge of that area, then you can scroll further past that. Repeat for an ever expanding canvas.

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I haven’t used it with anyone else but there are a few missing tools that I think should be there by default and QoL feature.

If you’re using a Pencil and added a text, Scribble Pen has to be selected so you can select text boxes and edit/add text. Otherwise, it will work as a Pencil.

I think Freeform needs a Select tool as a default. When Pencil (ballpen, marker, crayon) is the tool, you can’t select other objects to move elements. If Scribble Pen is the tool selected, you can select text boxes, stickies and other objects.

If two drawn elements are near to each other, they are automatically grouped together and you can’t move them separately.

Maybe its just me since I’m used to other whiteboard apps like Miro or Figjam but I find it difficult to work as a professional tool. But for sketching and adding multiple photos on the canvas and annotating, I love it.

If anything, I’d like other similar apps to have Scribble.

But, this is so much better than the whiteboard app that Microsoft included in the Teams app. That one is horrible.

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Potentially, I think, it could be rather useful for explaining something to someone in another country with both of you working on annotated screenshots (e.g., setting up a router, or something like that). I’ve had only very limited experience so far but that is at least one case where I think it could be very useful.

Stephen

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I wrote a somewhat longish review of my experience thus far.

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We do this at my work with Miro.

We initially just used Miro for a bit of process-mapping, but then realised it’s basically a board you can scribble anything on so now we do that too :joy: We’re even using it to annotate web content (clip the page, stick it in Miro, scribble away collaboratively). (Miro is also great for presentations because of the “follow me” function which drags other users around the board with you so that people don’t get lost on huge boards with lots of different sections).

I will play with Freeform to see how I might use it in a personal capacity on iOS, but I think on Mac (for work things) I will be sticking with Miro since I know it’s “safe” for colleagues.

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I just played a little with it, and already figured out, that you can‘t get excerpts from PDF‘s.
So, more or less worthless for my current workflow, unfortunately…

Snap! I use miro in much the same way. It is cool.

I expect that freeform will grow a lot over the coming year and will make a nice personal version of Miro.

could you elaborate on what you mean?

This Settings thing is bananas. Even though I had read this post before I tried Freeform, I could not find the switch. I had to force quit settings and navigate back and then it appeared at the bottom of the list.

I’m looking forward to trying it, but I’m hoping that it works well for a single user. I’d love an infinite canvas to plan projects and brainstorm where it is easy and simple to bring in photographs. I have tried this with drawing apps, and they either don’t support handwriting well enough or adding images has too much friction. Notebook apps aren’t infinite-canvas.

The unpredictable syncing of iCloud might be a problem, though. I wish Apple would acknowledge that their system is not perfect and allow us to force a sync when it’s needed. (This goes for everything that uses iCloud, but especially Photos. I’m sick of having to AirDrop photos between devices because sync is too erratic.)

I haven’t tried any of the competing apps because they clearly emphasize collaboration, which is useless for me. Most of my clients do not have the time or inclination to learn an app just to work with me on a project. I hope Apple doesn’t focus on collaboration at the expense of improving the app in every other area.

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to using this because I haven’t upgraded to Ventura yet. I just discovered a that Monterey is unable to read any of my CD-ROMs that were created 5+ years ago, so now I’m back to being ultra-cautious about updating.

The Share feature on macOS is a little strange. It doesn’t send an image of the board to the other app. E.g. Craft. It seems to think Craft is an app to use to send a Freeform sharing link.

And you can’t share from Photos or other apps to Freeform.

Katie

It’s the “Free” in Freeform that I find attractive. I’m retired and don’t have sophisticated "team” requirements. Indeed, I’d never previously used a digital whiteboard until experimenting with Freeform and a friend the other side of the world.

I’m sure there are very much better apps available but, for me, Freeform has some potential in areas I’d not previously considered.

Stephen

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Sure, there are several apps available, where I could mark a text within a PDF, and the App could extract this text, either as Text-Only, or as a kind of a screenshot, so I could continue working with this.
For my workflow, this is very useful, and beside all functions for that are available somewhere within the AppleOS´s, this is not possible.
It is also not possible with Freeform, to import PDF with several pages, to see all pages on the canvas.
It might be “only” a version 1.x, but it is a Version 1.x by Apple, not a single-man-company, so I think the result is a little disappointing to me.