We’ve made it our mission to disrupt the world of business diagramming – we want more people able to take advantage of the power of diagrams.

That’s one of the reasons why we made draw.io open source for building diagramming applications so that it is now the world’s most widely used browser-based end-user diagramming application.

We want everyone to have access to
free, high-quality diagramming software!

When you share a draw.io diagram, you can rest assured that anyone can open and edit it.

Unlike other diagramming solutions, we promise we won’t lock away your data – you will always have some way to open and edit that data, at no cost.

Open source software

Open source is often referred to as ‘zero-cost’ software since other people are free to run the software, study the code behind it, change it, and redistribute it. There are many advantages:

  • Full flexibility and extensibility: Anyone can modify and develop a program with open source code. Open source software can be easily integrated, improved or extended by software developers. And in fact, an entire ecosystem of draw.io integrations already exists!
  • Ideal visibility and traceability: Everyone can access the source code and see what has changed and when. This way, it may be easy for people to copy, but it’s also easy to audit.
  • Verifiable security: Open source software can’t hide what it is doing with your data. Anyone can carry out a code audit and verify that diagram data in draw.io is secure and private.

But, traditional open source projects often have a few drawbacks.

  • Poor usability: Many open source software programs are not user-friendly as they are often created by developers without UX or design experience. As a result, there is usually a steep learning curve for new users.
  • Lack of support and development: Developing new features and squashing bugs takes time, and developers are not cheap. Many community-run open source projects fail because the developers have no spare time to maintain them or they move on to other projects.

The three types of open source

Community-run open source relies on developers that develop the software for fun or simply because they love it. There is typically no investment to compensate the developers for their work.

Project-based open source is backed by a non-profit foundation or company that owns the copyright, which may hire or pay developers to work on extending and maintaining the software. Such projects are not run by traditional for-profit organizations.

Commercial open source is developed by vendors who operate as for-profit organizations. In this case, the open source code forms the foundation; the vendors then sell advanced features, improvements, guaranteed support, services, and upgrades to the companies who rely on the tool. Commercial open source combines the advantages of open source – the extensibility, interoperability, enhanced security, and traceability through auditable code – with the advantages of commercial software: consistent development, support, maintenance, and service.

Why open source is better for you, as a customer

You will never be locked out of your diagrams, as is the case with many subscription-based diagramming tools. Since draw.io is open source, you will always have access to a tool that can open, edit, and export your diagram data, even if your company switches to a different diagramming solution.

You can extend draw.io’s functionality yourself by developing your own plugin, legally! draw.io has a wide range of plugins for a variety of use cases. And if you want to build a custom plugin to meet your requirements, you are welcome to do so – draw.io is open source, after all! 

You can make diagramming faster and easier by customizing the draw.io interface in Confluence server

You can rely on draw.io’s data privacy and security. Open source software is inherently more trustworthy. Anyone can look through the source code and check which API calls are made or which data is sent and received. With draw.io, your diagram data is not shared or stored anywhere other than your device and the platform on which you save your diagram.

We have carried out due diligence reviews of the open source components used within draw.io and published these along with our security policy documentation, Q&A of security reviews for SaaS security compliance, penetration test reports and actions.

If you need to refer to this information during your own security audit, please go to the draw.io GitHub repository containing our security, privacy and policy documentation.

Commercial open source tools make sense

Let’s use draw.io for Atlassian software as an example. When you purchase the draw.io app for Atlassian software, you get few of the disadvantages but all of the advantages of open source software, with guaranteed support and maintenance.

It makes a lot of sense to use commercial open source. The funding from purchased licenses allows the draw.io team to focus on developing and improving the software, and creating useful and fully-tested features, without relying on developers who are only ‘doing it in their spare time.’

In fact, thanks to the commercial backing, the draw.io development team were able to release updates for the draw.io app for Confluence Cloud every few days – that was 174 updates in 2018! 

When you purchase draw.io apps for Atlassian’s software tools, you are providing all of your users with a professional and feature-rich diagramming tool, and one that they can use in context without having to switch tools. Because everyone can edit the diagrams you share, collaboration is much smoother, even with people outside of your company who are not using Atlassian software.

Did you know that Atlassian is a strong supporter of open source?

They have released many open-source components for Jira, Confluence, and other Atlassian tools. Plus, they also encourage their employees to contribute their own open-source components to Atlassian Labs and support open source project owners with free licenses for Atlassian software tools.

Integrations with licensed software add useful features

Since draw.io is commercial open source, we are able to dedicate development resources to integrate and support features available via the licensed software.  Let’s continue with the draw.io app for Confluence – this integration let’s you take advantage of the following features:

We love diagrams!

Being commercial open source lets us bring you the best of both worlds:

Transparency, security, trust and enthusiasm inherent in open source projects.
Consistent development and support of a commercial product.

Get involved

Where and how are you using draw.io? Give us a shout out on Twitter and let us know!