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Canva announces developers platform and a $50M fund for app development


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Canva, the visual communication platform, unveiled its Canva Developers Platform today at Canva Extend, its inaugural developer conference in San Francisco. The new platform consists of a comprehensive set of APIs and development tools, empowering developers to connect with Canva’s 135 million-strong monthly active user base.

To foster the creation of innovative experiences for the Canva community, the company also revealed the establishment of a $50 million Canva Developers Innovation Fund.

The investment initiative aims to provide support to app developers in building, growing and marketing their apps on the Canva App Marketplace. The fund will offer financial grants and expert guidance to help developers, especially those from groups underrepresented in the global market, to transform their app concepts into tangible products.

According to the company, a crucial component of this offering is the Canva Apps SDK, which grants access to resources such as javascript libraries, documentation, sample apps, UI guides and, notably, the new Canva Apps APIs.


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Those APIs — Asset, Design, Data, Fetch and User — enable the creation of a wide range of applications, from AI-powered tools and workflow integrations to design enhancements. Canva Apps will allow customers to retrieve and add content, edit their designs, authenticate users, export and publish their work and provide data.

Canva said that the APIs function harmoniously to provide novel avenues for Canva users to excel in their work.

“The first set of apps developed in beta launched in March and have been used over 11 million times in just two and a half months. These experiences have enabled us to optimize the new Canva Apps SDK for speed and ease — we’ve enabled developers to get an app up and running in minutes,” Anwar Haneef, Canva’s head of ecosystem, told VentureBeat. “We want simple apps to build, discover and use, and we have done our best to make this achievable for developers. You can now get an app running locally, render it in Canva, and immediately use it in your designs, rather than uploading it to the product and fiddle with it to get it to run.”

In addition to these announcements, the company unveiled a diverse collection of over 20 apps at Canva Extend, some already available and others slated for imminent release. 

These apps bolster Canva’s capabilities, enabling users to publish magazines via the publishing platform Issuu, generate audio using Soundraw’s AI technology, and create AI-generated avatars with DID.

Expanding opportunities for application developers

Canva asserts that the newly launched Developers Platform’s free app-building capability presents a substantial opportunity for developers to bring their ideas and services directly to a wide range of audiences, including large corporate teams, students, teachers, nonprofits and individual creators. 

Developers can monetize their creations through off-platform billing, while Canva plans to explore additional monetization strategies through the Canva Developers Innovation Fund.

“Our goal is to accelerate the growth and adoption of apps on Canva with support, including monetary grants, marketing support and expertise, and exploring effective monetization strategies,” said Canva’s Haneef. “The fund is intended to be agile, so we can evaluate our users’ needs and the needs of our community and use it to build the most sustainable ecosystem possible.”

Haneef said that one of the fund’s goals is to seek out developers who might be underrepresented in the global market and provide them with what they need to bring their amazing idea to life. 

“There’s so much talent out there, and we want to open up opportunities and resources for those who might not ordinarily have access to them. We’re thrilled about the opportunities this will create for our community and will share more details on the program with the Canva Developers community later this year,” he added.

The Connect APIs will launch later this year, with a waitlist opening today. These integrations, the company said, would facilitate capabilities such as including streamlined file and design management, programmatic asset uploads into folders to expedite team collaboration, and seamless access to completed designs from any platform.

“The Connect APIs let you connect any app with Canva to sync designs, assets, comments and more between platforms. This is critical to furthering our vision of becoming the most pluggable platform,” said Haneef. “Developers can also use these to manage user access to Canva assets, folders and designs.”

Concerning the APIs’ role in supporting AI app development, Haneef said that the new Canva Apps APIs offer the capability to construct applications for AI-driven photo, video, audio and text generation. 

For instance, an upcoming image generation app called PeopleMaker by Visual will soon be available on Canva, enabling users to create lifelike photos of individuals. Another example is Voice by Play.HT, a text-to-speech app, which customers can use to generate voiceovers for their designs.

“More than 200 million unique images have been generated in nine months with our generative AI products like Text to Image and Magic Edit. The space is evolving rapidly, and partnering with developers means we can bring more AI-powered solutions to our community faster,” Haneef explained. “As generative AI evolves past text prompt interfaces, our APIs also enable apps to read design elements and update them accordingly. In many cases, users don’t need to create something from scratch. With the Design API, your app can read what’s in the design and generate new content based on that.”

What’s next for Canva? 

According to Haneef, the Apps Marketplace serves as the cornerstone of the company’s vision to become the most adaptable visual communication platform, empowering teams of any size. The company is confident that by granting access to its design engine to developers and integration partners, it can swiftly broaden its product offerings. 

“We often say we’re only 1% of the way there. We have a huge vision for all that Canva can do, and we can’t build it all alone,” he said. “Our goal is to foster a vibrant ecosystem of apps (and in the future, Connections via the Connect API) so that we can make the latest innovations (including AI) available to our users and continue offering intuitive solutions to common design problems.”

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