Atlassian launches Forge, a new cloud app development platform

The new platform should make it easier for developers to build B2B applications that are ready to meet the needs of Atlassian's large enterprise customers.

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Atlassian on Tuesday officially launched Forge, a new platform for developers who want to build cloud apps for themselves or for the Atlassian Marketplace. The new platform will make it easier for developers to build apps across Atlassian products, starting with Jira and Confluence. It should also make it easier for developers to build B2B applications that are ready to meet the needs of Atlassian's large enterprise customers.

Atlassian spent two years investing in Forge, a serverless platform that removes the heavy lifting of app development. 

"We're essentially future-proofing your code by abstracting out how all that compute works under the covers,"  Mike Tria, Atlassian head of platform engineering, said to ZDNet. "As a third party application developer on Atlassian, you can feel safe knowing that you've built your app, and however it gets deployed -- wherever the customer happens to be, whatever the best form of computing if that's desktop, mobile -- it's all serverless."

Previously, developers that wanted to extend Atlassian cloud products could use the Atlassian Connect development framework. Unlike Connect, Forge is built from the ground up to help developers create Atlassian-wide apps. At launch, Forge will support Jira Software, Jira Service Management and Confluence, and Atlassian will be continuously adding more products to the platform. 

Because apps built on Forge rely on Atlassian-hosted compute and storage, it's easier for developers to ensure their apps are in compliance with GDPR and other regulatory requirements. It will also help apps scale up to meet the needs of enterprise customers. 

The Atlassian Marketplace represents a huge opportunity for developers who want to reach enterprise customers. It's already one of the largest B2B SaaS marketplaces, generating around $1.7 billion in business since its inception in 2012. More than 60% of Atlassian's 200,000-plus customers use at least one app or integration from the Marketplace -- and enterprise is no exception. 

"If anything, they use more apps and customizations to integrate Atlassian tightly into their workflows," Tria said. "So those apps have to go through the same level of security checks and questionnaires and compliance as our own products do."

By enabling enterprise-grade security on Forge, Atlassian expects to see whole new categories of applications open up on the marketplace, Tria said. 

'"This is really freeing developers up to not have to spend all of their time doing infrastructure, so they can spend their time innovating," he said. 

Already, more than 50 new cloud apps are released on the Marketplace every month, after they've been reviewed by Atlassian. Some of the most popular help with tasks like time tracking and workflow automation, Tria said. 

After Forge was launched in beta last year, more than 3,500 apps were created with the new platform. The Visualize with AWS app (for Confluence and Jira) by Utoolity renders declarative charts and diagrams for easy visual communication. Link Management for Confluence by Lively Apps lets customers find and fix broken links across their spaces.