There are a ton of tools that cater to the needs of having a collaborative whiteboard. Figma, which closed a deal to be acquired by Adobe for $20 billion in September, has FigJam; there’s Miro, which is valued at $17.5 billion after the Series C raise in January; and Apple released the Freeform app for its users earlier this week. In the midst of it all, TLDraw provides users with a canvas for collaboration without any login.
TLDraw consumer app
TLDraw is quite easy to use from the start. It is a blank infinite canvas that allows you to draw lines or objects, write text and insert media such as images, videos or GIFs.
Moreover, you can easily share this collaboration board with your colleagues via a link. If you don’t want anyone changing the board, you can also share a read-only link. This is like Google Docs, which allows you to share the document with multiple collaborators as well as in a read-only mode.
The new version of the website, which is in beta, offers more features. It has more shapes, colors and line options to draw; you can also insert new types of objects, such as a frame or a sticky note; there are additional options to duplicate and move objects; and there are multiple formats like SVG, PNG, JPG and JSON to export the board.
You don’t need an account or login to use all these features. Since it is on the web, you and your colleagues could easily use it without depending on the platform.
“After making these projects, I wanted to create something new that was more ‘shape independent’ that would allow me to put any shape on the canvas; and this is what TLDraw was going to be. I built all this in public (mainly via Twitter- gifs) and the TLDraw content quickly became very popular,” Ruiz told Techcrunch.
TLDraw has raised a $2.7 million seed round led by Lux Capital with participation from Amplify Partners, Sabrina Hahn, Guillermo Rauch van Vercel and NP-Hard Ventures. The round had also liked other investors SoleioBadrul Farooqi, Michael Stoppelman, Tom Preston-Werner, Adam Wiggins of Muse, Brian Lovin of Campsite, David Khourshid of Stately.ai, Cristóbal Valenzuela of Runway ML, and Johannes Schickling of Prisma.
The company, which has five full-time employees, currently earns no income beyond money donated by GitHub sponsors. Going forward, the startup wants to work on licensing and support to generate revenue. Ruiz said the team may have some features behind a paywall, such as collaboration tools between team members.
The developer tools and the road ahead
While TLDraw is available for free to anyone, the company also provides developer tools to integrate the canvas. Think of it as “Whiteboard-as-a-service”.
Ruiz told australiabusinessblog.com that when he started working on the project, he wanted to give everyone a platform to collaborate on canvases using all the basic tools available to them.
“The current set of whiteboard applications assumes that if you’re working on an infinite canvas, you’re only working on visual components. But with TLDraw, we wanted to give importance to all kinds of formats,” he said.
The startup founder added that existing tools offer their own take on collaborative design and are difficult to adapt to a company’s own needs. With TLDraw, teams can get a strong starting point for effective interaction design and a canvas for collaboration.
There are already quite a few projects that use TLDraw as a basis. There are useful web-based drawing apps like MacPaint and Okay so; developers have also used TLDraw to create useful story building tools such as LengendKeeper and WorldAnvil; AI-based video generation platform video uses it as a base canvas; and open source virtual classroom company BigBlue button uses it as its in-class whiteboard tool.
The company is now working on open sourcing the new beta version of the TLDraw website along with moving all collaboration versions and the Visual Studio Code plugin to it. Additionally, the startup plans to add more features such as rulers, object lists, and animations over the next 12 months based on community feedback.