How about fixing the bugs in annotation?

I have had troubles with annotation for the last 3 years and tech support could not do a thing apart from telling me to uninstall and reinstall to waste my time.

As I teach students using very detailed annotation, the annotation module is so important for teaching. Without it, I cannot teach properly. Yet, this module is buggy and unreliable across the various platforms that my students use. It is also not perfect on Windows where it is most stable.

Here are my latest communications with support:

There is a bug in ZOOM annotation that has been around for years. It is getting worse recently. It is about you drawing at one spot and then the thing is cleared and appears a bit away from it. It is very annoying. What I mean is you draw a dot at location x, it will disappear and then reappear at location x + 5 instead (or a bit further). This always happened on Android, often on Chromebook, occasionally on iPad, and rarely on Windows. Now, it is happening very often on iPad.

The way I understand it is that when the annotator draws something, it is immediately displayed on the device. It is also sent to the ZOOM server to be displayed on other connected devices. But a copy is also sent back to the original device. At this point, the original device erases what is on its screen (for the object) and redraws it. The reason why it disappears and reappears in a fraction of a second later is because of the slow traffic on the Internet. When the Internet is really fast, it happens so quickly that the annotator won’t see the disappearance and reappearance.

I gave up annotation on Android long ago because of this problem. Similarly, Chromebook annotation is horrible so I gave up on it too. I keep using iPad but now my students with iPad have this problem most of the time. The way to work around it is when it happens, leave the meeting and rejoin again. The problem will go away for a while. It may come back within 30 minutes. It rarely happens on Windows (about 1 out of 20 sessions). On iPad, it happens in 7 out of 10 sessions.

Please tell your developer to test the software fully on various platforms and fix this bug. It is very annoying for tutors who use annotation extensively to teach students.

There is also another problem with annotation that I reported long ago and it was never fixed. I use 2 devices, one with a digital pen for writing and the other for displaying. Both run Windows. The problem happens in about 1 in 20 sessions. I write on the screen, and it is displayed on the device I write on immediately and the devices that my students use at various locations on the Internet, but it is delayed for several seconds before it is displayed on my other Windows device on my local home network! As I use a reliable NBN connection in Sydney, this has nothing with my Internet speed. All video and audio work perfectly. Only the annotation seems to be flaky. I randomly have the same issues across many different Windows machines and iPad at different times so this has nothing to do with hardware or OS … All the problems with annotation in ZOOM are random and it is hard to reproduce when you want to show them but they show up frequently enough to make the product unreliable for tutoring purposes.

After being asked to uninstall and reinstall. I reply with much more details and tips for testing

Com’on, you must be kidding me! This problem has been around for over 3 years since I started using ZOOM for the first time. I have uninstalled and reinstalled ZOOM over 20 times on many devices, and many OSes, … and it is happening across devices that my students use …

You are not going to be able to replicate the problem when you sit in your office with perfect networking and close to your ZOOM servers … How about you go home and test through a hotspot via your phone, your home Internet, wifi at the cafe and McDonald’s … You will see that ZOOM does not work that well in the real world out there.

You will never see the problem unless you do what I said. Get out there and test on all sorts of real-life situations where people actually use ZOOM. I guess you have to create a distance between your device and your ZOOM servers. For example, you might want to use a route the traffic to another country. I am in Sydney Australia. Your ZOOM servers are probably not located inside Australia. Please test using Android, Chromebook, phones and iPad. It very rarely happens on Windows. Also, I guess it only happens when there are two Windows devices on the same local network accessing the same ZOOM meeting.

I stated that the problems do not happen consistently every time. It could happen in 1 in 10 sessions. However, it does happen a lot if you try annotation on Android and on iPad. You cannot expect to test just once and see it. You really need to test frequently from a variety of real-life connections that users use from home, wifi hotspots, via phone wifi hotspots … You probably have to try several times over a month before you detect it. I teach about 10 times remotely using ZOOM per week and it will happen 1 time either to me or my students. When it happens, it is very annoying.

Every time I asked for help, you guys just told me to remove and reinstall. I have done this too many times over the last 3 years and the problems are still around. Unless your developer fully tests and find out the problems and provide an official fix, the problems will never go away.