There are many tools available to meet the needs of a collaborative whiteboard. Figma, which closed a deal to buy Adobe for $20 billion in September, has FigJam; After a Series C raise in January, Miro is valued at $17.5 billion. And Apple released the Freeform app to its users earlier this week. Amidst all this, TLDraw provides users with a collaborative canvas without any login.
TLDraw consumer application
TLDraw is very easy to use from the get-go. It’s a blank infinite canvas that lets you draw lines or objects, write text, and insert media like images, videos, or GIFs.
Moreover, you can easily share this collaboration board with your colleagues through the link. If you don’t want anyone to modify the board, you can share a read-only link. This is similar to Google Docs, which allows you to share the document both with multiple contributors and in read-only mode.
The new version of the site, which is in beta, offers more features. It has more shapes, colors and line options to draw; You can insert new things like a frame or a sticky note. There are more options for duplicating and moving objects; And there are many formats to export the board, such as SVG, PNG, JPG and JSON.
You don’t need any account or login to use all these features. Since this is on the web, you and your colleagues can easily use it without depending on the platform.
TLDraw was released in 2010. It was started as an open source project by Steve Ruiz in 2021. He built TLDraw on the back of his other open source projects like absolutely-freehan and globs.design.
“After doing these projects, I wanted to create something new that was more “shape agnostic” so that I could put any shape on the canvas; and that’s what TLDraw is. I was building all this in public (especially with Twitter gifs) and the TLDraw content became very popular,” he said. Ruiz told TechCruach.
TLDraw has raised a $2.7 million seed round led by Lux Capital with participation from Amplify Partners, Sabrina Hahn, Vercell Guillermo Rauch and NP-Hard Ventures. The round also had other investors. SoleilBadrul Farooqi, Michael Stoppelman, Tom Preston-Werner, Adam Wiggins of Muse, Brian Lovin of Campsite, David Kourshid of Stately.ai, Cristóbal Valenzuela of Runway ML and Johannes Schickling of Prisma.
The company, which has five full-time employees, currently receives no revenue outside of donations from GitHub sponsors. Going forward, the startup wants to work on licensing and endorsements to generate revenue. Ruiz said the team may have some features — collaboration tools between team members — behind a paywall.
Developer tools and the way forward
While TLDraw is available for everyone to use for free, the company also provides developer tools to integrate the canvas. Think of it as “Whiteboard-as-a-Service”.
Ruiz told TechCrunch that when he started working on the project, he wanted to provide a platform for anyone to build on collaborative canvases with all the basic tools available.
“The current set of whiteboard applications, if you’re working on an infinite canvas, you think you’re only working on visual elements. But with TLDraw, we want to give value to all kinds of formats,” he said.
The startup’s founder added that existing tools dictate collaboration design and are difficult to customize for a company’s needs. With TLDraw, teams can find a solid starting point in terms of effective interaction design and collaboration canvas.
There are quite a few projects that are using TLDraw as a base. There are neat web-based drawing apps like MacPaint and OkSo. Developers have used TLDraw to make useful story building tools like LegendKeeper and WorldAnvil. AI-based video generation platform Vidext is using as a basic canvas; And the open source virtual classroom is using BigBlueButton as its in-class whiteboard tool.
The company is now working on a beta version of the new TLDraw website, along with moving all collaboration versions and the Visual Studio Code plugin to it. Moreover, in the next 12 months, the startup plans to add more features like rulers, item lists and animations based on community feedback.