February 2, 2023

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TLDraw offers a no-login collaborative whiteboard • TechCrunch

There are a lot of tools that can meet the needs of a collaborative whiteboard. Figma, which in September inked a deal to be acquired by Adobe for $20 billion, has FigJam; there’s Miro, which is valued at $17.5 billion after its Series C raise in January; and Apple released the Freeform app to its users earlier this week. In the midst of all this, TLDraw offers users a collaborative canvas without signing up.

TLDraw consumer app

TLDraw is pretty easy to use from the start. It’s a blank, infinite canvas on which you can draw lines or objects, write text, and insert media such as images, videos, or GIFs.

In addition, you can easily share this collaborative board with your colleagues via a link. If you don’t want anyone to change the board, you can also share a read-only link. This is like Google Docs that allows you to share the document both with multiple contributors and in read-only mode.

Beta version of TLDraw Image credit: TLDraw

The new version of the site, which is in beta, offers more features. It has more shape, color and line options for drawing; You can also insert new types of objects like a frame or sticky note; additional options for duplicating and moving objects; and multiple formats like SVG, PNG, JPG and JSON to export the board.

You don’t need an account or login to use all of these features. Since this is on the web, you and your colleagues can easily use this without depending on the platform.

The enterprise

TLDraw was first started as an open source project by Steve Ruiz in 2021. He built TLDraw on top of his other open source projects like perfect-freehand and globs.design.

“After doing these projects, I wanted to create something new that was more ‘form-agnostic’ and would allow me to bring any type of shape to the canvas; and that would become TLDraw. I made all of this publicly (mainly via Twitter gifs) and the TLDraw content quickly became very popular,” Ruiz told Techcrunch.

Demo of the Perfect Freehand project Credit: TLDraw

TLraw has raised a $2.7M seed round led by Lux Capital with participation from Amplify Partners, Sabrina Hahn, Guillermo Rauch of Vercel and NP-Hard Ventures. Other investors also liked the round SoleioBadrul Farooqi, Michael Stoppelman, Tom Preston-Werner, Adam Wiggins from Muse, Brian Lovin from Campsite, David Khourshid from Stately.ai, Cristóbal Valenzuela from Runway ML, Johannes Schickling from Prisma.

The company, which employs five full-time employees, currently earns no revenue other than money donated by GitHub sponsors. In the future, the startup wants to work on licensing and support to generate revenue. Ruiz said the team may have some features — like collaboration tools between team members — behind a paywall.

The developer tools and the way forward.

While TLDraw is free for everyone, the company also offers developer tools to integrate its 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 at their disposal.

“Current whiteboard applications assume that when you’re working on an infinite canvas, you’re only working on visual components. But with TLDraw, we wanted to give meaning to all sorts of formats,” he said.

The startup founder added that existing tools offer their own take on collaboration design and are difficult to customize to a company’s own needs. With TLDraw, teams can get a strong starting point in terms of effective interaction design and collaborative canvas.

Example of an app created with TLDraw

Photo credit: TLDraw

“There are hundreds of little functions – selecting, resizing, rotating, dragging a shape between different parents, even undoing and redoing – where the solution is both very mathematically complex and very subjective at the same time. The right implementation is the one that “feels right,” and that can be a very frustrating goal,” added Ruiz.

There are already some projects that use TLDraw as a base. There are nice web-based drawing apps like MacPaint and OkSo; Developers have also used TLDraw to create useful story building tools like LengendKeeper and WorldAnvil like Dungeons & Dragons; The AI-based video generation platform Vidext uses them as a base canvas; and virtual classroom open-source company BigBlueButton uses its own whiteboard tool.

The company is now working to open-source the new beta version of the TLDraw website and move all collaborative versions and the Visual Studio Code plugin to it. Additionally, the startup plans to add more features like rulers, object lists, and animations over the next 12 months based on community feedback.