Everyone who remembers the Etch A Sketch slabs of yesteryear remembers how difficult it was to translate your vision onto its "magic screen," and how proud you felt upon success. Now, Google's Chrome Labs has translated that experience (quite literally) for the digital age with the fun Web A Skeb project . It's a browser-contained version of an Etch A Sketch that you can use to draw and doodle—if you can get the hang of its dials.
Web A Skeb creator Rowan Merewood explained on Twitter that the goal of the project was to create Web-friendly dials. Those in Web A Skeb work just like those on the old Etch A Sketch toys, so you have to learn which direction to "turn" them in to move your strokes up and down or left and right. Currently, only cursors and mice can control the dials on desktop browsers, but greater accessibility is being considered (like using letter or arrow keys to control the dials).
Finally at a shareable stage, it's my Web A Skeb PWA!
:arrows_counterclockwise: Twist the knobs to draw
:wave: Shake to erase
:rainbow: Toggle through 3 effects
— Rowan Merewood (@rowan_m) January 9, 2019
Buttons at the bottom of Web A Skeb let you enter fullscreen mode, "shake" the drawing area to erase your work, and liven up the sketch with shadows and rainbows using the "fancy" and "fanciest" options.
Web A Skeb isn't easy to master—not for me, at least. I haven't drawn with an Etch A Sketch in many years, so that probably didn't help my efforts. But the project successfully captures the challenging nature of the original toy, making it a yet another online space in which you could lose hours of your time quite easily.
Google's Chrome Labs lets developers make weird, fun, and interesting projects to show the power that a simple web browser has. Those involved have produced things like the open-source image compression tool Squoosh , the Web actor library Clooney , and Project VisBug , a Chrome extension that lets users edit webpages using design tool interactions and hotkeys.
Web A Skeb is available not only in Chrome, but in other desktop and mobile browsers as well. It's actually a bit easier to draw on mobile, since you can use both of your thumbs to turn the dials at the same time. Those interested can check out the source code on GitHub .