Check It!

You may have noticed the silence on this blog for the past few months. It’s not because there’s nothing left to say, I assure you. I’ve just been immersed. Doing what? Making checkitboard.com, that’s what.

Ah, another website. Well not quite. It’s a web app and a versatile one at that. You see, I had a problem. I needed to communicate with a small team and some clients. I needed to build an online list of to-do items and assign them to different people. It needed to be visible and changeable by the parties involved. And I couldn’t find an online tool that did all this and let me build it once and copy it to reuse it. So, I decided to build it myself. While I was at it, I thought of some other useful tools that let me enhance what you could use the tool for. I built in real-time collaboration, drawing, ability to make public and private boards, and picture posting, too. What I ended up with is really useful, versatile, and fun.

When deciding on what tools to use to build it, I had a few ideas. I could use html5 with javascript, learn a bunch of new languages and utilities, etc. Or I could use the one tool that already lets you build interactive web applications: java. It’s made to run in a browser and run on multiple platforms. You can make it do amazing things without shoehorning it into a round hole. So, instead of working for a couple of years with a small team, I built it myself. CheckItBoard uses python scripts on the server for database access (mainly because my web hosting service won’t let me use java there), but that’s a small part of the work involved. The basics of the app are all in java. Will this change? Perhaps if people start using it, I’ll move over to some other technologies that don’t require the java virtual machine, which eliminates some platforms. Or, I may just build some specialized apps to handle this on the iPhone and other non-java devices. In the meantime, you can save a board as an html file and view it anywhere, share it on facebook, etc.

It still needs a little polish, but the functionality it supports is quite extensive. I’ll follow this post with some periodic examples of what you can use CheckItBoard for and why it’s so cool. Give it a try (it’s free!) and let me know what you think.