Last updated Feb 23, 2021

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Cloud development platform overview

When building apps for Atlassian cloud products, you have platform and framework options to help you develop secure, full-featured apps quickly. There are three main ways to develop cloud apps and integrations with Atlassian:

If you are migrating a server or Data Center app to cloud, see our Deployment overview and App data migration guide for more information.

Platform feature comparison

This table compares the capabilities of Connect, Forge, and external apps and integrations.

ForgeAtlassian ConnectExternal apps and integrations
App hostingHosted by AtlassianHosted by youHosted by you
UI extensibilityIn-product UI modules (custom UI and UI kit)In-product UI modulesNo in-product UI elements
Product APIsManaged REST and
JavaScript APIs
REST and JavaScript APIsREST APIs
App languagesServerless Node.js functionsAny language
(optional frameworks for Node.js and Java)
Any language compatible with your auth method
Auth and data implementationUse built-in authentication, sandboxing, and development environmentsYou have complete control over auth and data implementation (or use JWT token by default)OAuth 2.0 and basic auth available
DistributionMake apps for your team or sell in the MarketplaceMake apps for your team or sell in the MarketplaceMake apps for yourself or your team
CompatibilityJira and Confluence compatibleJira, Confluence, and Bitbucket compatibleOAuth 2.0 apps are Jira Platform, Jira Service Management, and Confluence compatible.
Other product REST APIs available through other auth implementations.

You'll need to consider the different security responsibilities shared between you and Atlassian, depending on your chosen app architecture. Learn more about the Atlassian cloud shared responsibility model.

Forge

Forge is our new development platform that helps you build secure Jira and Confluence Cloud apps with less overhead.

Forge provides built-in security, Atlassian-hosted infrastructure, and UI extensibility options. It also offers a streamlined DevOps experience with development, staging, and production environments.

You'll write your app with serverless Node.js functions, manage the app with the Forge CLI, and create the front end with either custom UI or UI kit components. Forge is currently available for Jira or Confluence Cloud development.

Forge is recommended for developers building their first Atlassian cloud app, or any developers who want less infrastructure and hosting overhead.

You can share and sell Forge apps on the Atlassian Marketplace, and you can distribute your apps directly to users via the developer console.

See the Forge documentation.

Atlassian Connect

Atlassian Connect is a framework that enables developers to build apps and integrations on top of Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket Cloud products.

Connect gives you complete control over the tech stack, infrastructure, and integration with Atlassian cloud products. You determine your security implementation and authentication with external cloud providers, such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Heroku.

You can write the app in any language, but we provide frameworks for Node.js and Java to help you test things out and get started with JWT token authentication.

See more on building Connect apps with Jira, Confluence, or Bitbucket Cloud.

External apps, scripts, and integrations

You can also build some types of apps without Atlassian Connect or Forge. These apps can still access data and create content through the cloud product APIs.

For app security, you can use OAuth 2.0 (3LO) to pass information between your integration and Jira Platform, Jira Service Management, or Confluence, depending on your security needs. See the Authentication and authorization overview for more.

OAuth 2.0 integrations are best suited for projects that need to access product data on behalf of a user, but don't need any in-product UI elements. Be aware that OAuth 2.0 integrations cannot be listed in the Atlassian Marketplace, so if you eventually want to list your app, consider building a Connect app with user impersonation instead.

For more on OAuth 2.0 integrations and how to implement them, see our guides on OAuth 2.0 for Jira or OAuth 2.0 for Confluence.

For all our cloud product APIs, see the cloud API documentation.

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