iOS whiteboard replacement?


I have seen some threads somewhat similar to this, so I’m not certain if this exact idea has been addressed. Please, if this has been covered elsewhere, link me to the previous answer? I was a bit confused by what the official verdict is on this topic.

Thank you for reading!

About My Use Case

I write a combination of text roleplay posts, short stories/scenes, and novels. Although I have used Scrivener for Windows for two years or so now (if memory serves me), it has never been my #1 go-to due to the nature of it. I do not like being permanently tethered to my desk. Very recently I have switched from Ulysses to Scrivener on my iPad, and it has replaced that app’s role in my workflow and exceeded it due to the ability to sync with my windows machine for those times when I need a full keyboard. In reverse, I love being able to grab my iPad as I walk out the door and pick up right where I left off when I was at home. I haven’t used it long, but I love it already!

I have been looking for a solution to one particular hole in my writing workflow for quite some time however. When I first started taking my writing seriously, I had a giant (5 feet wide, 3 feet tall) whiteboard I pasted in the back of my clothes closet. I primarily used this for planning relationships between characters, as some of my stories have casts of 25+ active characters who all know each other and interact regularly. The luxury of this whiteboard has long since perished, however it has been sorely missed for 5 years or more. Currently I use an ever changing combination of Whitelines Link, Evernote, iOS Notes, Procreate, and good old pen and paper to replace this.

My Idea
I would love to see there be something that served as a sort of whiteboard or chalkboard replacement and integrated with Scrivener in the way that Scapple does (from what I gather). Note that I have not actually used Scapple, so anything I say about that program is merely assumption based on what little I’ve read about it. I do intend to try it, I simply haven’t yet.

I would love to see the ability to drag and drop points around on a large blank screen. I would also love to be able to draw arrows between points and write notes about how those points are connected. In my particular use case, this would be incredibly helpful for tracking relationships between my cast of characters, as well as to visualize the effects of the actions they take farther down the road, connecting and noting how plot points fit together in the grander scheme of the story.

The iPad (or any touch-screen device really) seems like an excellent platform for this kind of functionality. While I’m sure there are plenty of whiteboard replacement apps in the app store, none of them would integrate directly with Scrivener.

While some kind of handwriting/drawing support for the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro I own would admittedly be nice, especially for doing things like managing the arrows/lines connections various points. I also understand that a lot of users likely do not have this hardware however. Plus, I can’t imagine handwriting recognition or handwriting to text functionality being easy to implement in a system like Scrivener.

Pretty sure this is just what Scapple is for. You should check it out.

But if what you really want is freehand drawing, there are already apps for your iPad for that.*


  • The editable drawing facility you describe is some serious programming work and as far as I can see would not really “integrate with” Scrivener in any interesting sense other than to exist as an app inside another app. So, all the effort to make it would surely not be worthwhile when so many drawing apps are already available.


Be warned, though. In my own experience, nothing truly replaces paper (or a whiteboard) for this kind of thing, unless maybe if you can afford wall-sized monitors. No normal desktop screen – and even less a tablet – has enough room.


Thank you for the quick replies!

These are about the answers I expected to receive. Truthfully, I mostly made this thread as a sort of “in an absolutely perfect world where everything is simple” scenario. Plus, it never hurts to put ideas out on the table for others to see!

My problem with Scrapple (and the reason why I have yet to try it) is the same as my problem with Scrivener Windows ver. Windows. In my case, the requirement for that operating system means that I am bolted to my desk. When my iPad dies and I need a tablet replacement, Windows will likely finally have a decent competitor for my current setup, so I could use Scrapple as it currently exists and get touchscreen support that way. After all, touchscreen in Windows is recognized the same as a cursor, and I already use an external keyboard for my tablet. There wouldn’t be any need for alteration to Scapple to support that.

I suppose a better way to have presented this idea would perhaps be for an iOS version of Scrapple? Or something of similar functionality to that.

Also I completely agree that nothing can replace paper or a whiteboard. Hell, I collect fountain pens and do calligraphy as a hobby. (This is the actual reason I chose the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil for my mobile platform originally, as it was the cheapest option at the time that would allow me to experiment with digital calligraphy.) I have also been trying to reduce the amount of household waste I produce, which is directly the opposite of using paper. With whiteboards, the reason I did not replace mine after I moved was that my dog got a taste for the ink and ate all my pens. While the dog came out no worse for the theft, the vet bills were not my idea of a good time.

As for screen size, my usual technique (at least in Procreate and iOS Notes) is to zoom in and write small, then pan around or zoom out as I need more space. Not perfect, and certainly not as nice as a whiteboard or paper, but it is effective if anyone having similar problems happens to read this.

A nice app on the iPad is iThoughts. It has a Mac version as well, but no Windows vwersion I’m afraid.

Apparently an iThoughts Windows version is in progress. Implementation date is TBD.

MindMup 2.0 is a very stripped down mind mapping tool that is is an extension of Google Chrome, so you need to work from the browser. It works well for me on Windows & iOS, so I assume it would also work well on Mac. But you may want more functionality than it offers.

Re: iThoughts iOS and Windows:

Among the powerful features of iThoughts are a) the ability to sync with Dropbox and b) the ability to do so in multiple file formats. For example, before I saved up and bought Mac iThoughts, I used the free version of XMind on the Mac. I had iThoughts on iOS sync to Dropbox in both its native (.itmz) and in XMind (.xmind) format. When I edited the .xmind version on my Mac, the saved changes were automatically synced back to iOS and the .itmz version updated. Now, free Xmind didn’t have all the cool widgets of iThoughts, but I could work on the desktop when I had to. XMind is of course available on Windows, as are many other mind map programs that iThoughts supports.

I can understand if mind mapping is not your thing–it doesn’t work for everyone. iThoughts doesn’t restrict you to one root node, though, and can have relationship arrows running every which way. It has an automatic zoom feature which is the closest thing I’ve found to being able to look at a whiteboard-sized map and focus on the one bit I’m interested in without losing context. It helps that iThoughts was clearly designed as an iPad/iPhone app first, and a desktop app second. Rare, but it seems likely to be a positive for your use case.

Finally, iThoughts will happily export to OPML which is accepted by Scrivener (Mac, and I presume Windows as well) just fine. I’ve used Scapple–and went back to iThoughts (sorry, Lit&Lat people.)

YMMV (or your l/km, as you prefer.)