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What was WWW Paint Board?

WWW Paint Board was a tool for drawing in vector markup language (VML) and sharing your creations in a simple gallery. WWW Paint Board was released in 2004 and hasn't received any updates. It was designed for IE version 5.5 and does not work in modern browsers.

Before describing WWW Paint Board and its features, it's helpful to understand VML. It is an application of extensible markup language (XML) and, as such, is not truly a language in itself. In very simple terms, VML lets you draw on Web pages the same way that hypertext markup language (HTML) lets you type words on them. In the way HTML describes objects, such as paragraphs, VML describes shapes and groups of shapes. Also, VML was a Microsoft technology and never really had support in browsers other than Internet Explorer. VML has been deprecated in favor of other graphic formats such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).

Created by Minh Nguyen Duong, WWW Paint Board was a tool for drawing with VML. It was a completely free and open-source application. It included a gallery with voting, an online drawing editor, comments, shout box, top score, top clicks, searching, loading, and deleting topics. It featured a simple control panel and safety mode (to help keep potential spammers from flooding your image boards).

WWW Paint Board was released in August 2004. It is still available as a free download from a few sites around the Web. However, support and updates are non-existent. Also, up-to-date browsers are not compatible with WWW Paint Board's use of VML. WWW Paint Board still works ok in the compatibility mode of IE 10, but it does not work at all outside of compatibility mode in IE 10, or in any of the other modern browsers.

Since WWW Paint Board is no longer a functional option you should take a look at some alternatives, and we've found several for you to look into.

What was unique about WWW Paint Board?

WWW Paint Board was unique in that allowed you to build a website and community around a simple drawing application by using a built-in gallery with user voting and comments. As far as we know, there really was and is nothing that quite matches WWW Paint Board's pairing of a simple drawing app with simple social interaction.

What does WWW Paint Board cost?

WWW Paint Board is free to download, but due to extremely limited functionality we recommend that you look for an alternative.

What are some alternatives to WWW Paint Board?

WWW Paint Board was more than just a drawing application. WWW Paint Board created an interactive community built around simple digital drawings. We weren't able to find any applications that provided this unique combination of functionality right out of the box. What we did find were a few great scripts that would allow you to add drawing functionality to your website.

  • drawingboard.js: This is a free script you can download from GitHub. It makes use of the HTML5 canvas element, and the popular JavaScript library, jQuery. It offers a range of basic tools and the ability to add a download option so you can save a local copy of your drawing.
  • Literally Canvas: This free script also makes use of the HTML5 canvas element and a different popular JavaScript library, React.js. Literally Canvas has a few more options than drawingboard.js and includes a somewhat slicker interface. Most notably Literally Canvas offers the option to zoom and pan within the drawing.
  • wPaint.js: Another HTML5 canvas drawing script that makes use of the jQuery library. wPaint.js is similar to both drawingboard.js and Literally Canvas. It's most notable addition is the inclusion of an email form which you can use to send your drawing to any email address.
  • Zwibbler: If you're looking for something with more features than any of the options so far then Zwibbler may be what you're looking for. Zwibbler is a free Javascript-based sketchpad script you can easily add to your website and customize to your liking. Take a look at the available demos on the Zwibbler website to see some novel ways others have customized Zwibbler for their projects.

All of these scripts use HTML and JavaScript to work. Since both of these languages are client-side languages they won't place any technical burden on your server. You server will just serve up the files, and then it's up to the user's browser to do the rest. This means that any hosting plan should work fine for any of the drawing scripts listed above.

If none of those applications are exactly what you're looking for, or if you want to customize the look of your app, you can always create your own drawing app. The HTML5 canvas element combined with a JavaScript library will provide you all the tools you need to pull something together. If you want to create your own app, but don't know where to start check out William Malone's tutorial on creating a Simple HTML5 Drawing App.

If you're just looking for the ability draw online and aren't interested in adding it to your website then a cloud-based application might be a better choice. Some great cloud-based options include:

  • A Web Whiteboard: A cloud-based whiteboard that can be used collaboratively. This application has limited functionality, but if you're looking for something really simple with built-in collaboration this might be the tool for you.
  • DrawIsland: A free drawing tool that even allows you to create gif's by animating up to 10 drawings in sequence. DrawIsland has an impressive number of drawing tools and the built in gif option makes it worth checking out.
  • Google Drawings: A cloud-based drawing application tied to your Google account. Create a drawing and save it to your Google Drive account.

WWW Paint Board Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why doesn't WWW Paint Board work in modern browsers?

    WWW Paint Board allowed users to drawing using a technology called VML. VML was supported by Internet Explorer versions 5 to 9. However, as of 2012 VML was deemed obsolete, deprecated in favor of SVG, and no longer supported unless you're using Internet Explorer 10 in compatibility mode. VML was never supported outside of the Microsoft environment, so other browsers never rendered VML correctly.

  • What is a JavaScript library?

    Every modern drawing app script we found made use of a JavaScript Library. JavaScript is a very powerful client-side programming language. Many libraries of pre-written JavaScript are available. When programming within one of these libraries you can take advantage of these pre-written scripts to save a lot of time and headache. Different libraries have been created for different purposes, with different functionality and limitations, so selecting the library that best fits what you're trying to accomplish is important.

  • Do all browsers support the HTML5 canvas element?

    All up-to-date major browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari) support the canvas element. Keep in mind that the canvas element just creates the space for graphics. You'll need to use some sort of script (most typically JavaScript as we've seen) to actually create graphics. In order to add a drawing space on your website using the canvas element you'll need to either use an existing script or be comfortable enough with HTML and JavaScript to do some coding yourself.

  • How do I install one of the alternative applications on my website?

    Installing any of these alternative applications will involve inserting some script into your website HTML file at the location where you want the drawing canvas to appear and then styling it to your liking with CSS.

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