Free software – where would we be without it?
If free, open source software and services shut down, the worldwide infrastructure that supports the internet would grind to a halt. That’s not an exaggeration. There are countless examples of infrastructure that relies on free software components to work (Apache server for instance).
It’s not just the heavy hitters.
Consider the whole ecosystem. There are many small, vital, and helpful components that make your life easier… but without them, life would quickly turn into a succession of little frustrations.
TinyMCE is a free WYSIWYG HTML editor. And it’s one of those small, helpful components (consider how many websites rely on text entry) that you can’t do without.
It’s the WYSIWYG editor of choice for the world’s leading product teams. Trusted by 100M+ products across the world, more than 1.5M+ developers incorporate its rich text editor components in their projects – because they know that it's reliable, customizable and the best on the market.
This article explores the why, how and what parts of TinyMCE are free – the core editor, Premium Plugins, and TinyMCE licensing.
Table of contents
Is TinyMCE free?
The TinyMCE core editor is free to use for commercial and noncommercial purposes. When it comes to licensing, the TinyMCE version 5 series makes use of an LGPL license. This is a distinct from a GPL licence, which is a copyleft licence.
Whereas from TinyMCE version 6 onwards, the core TinyMCE editor runs under an MIT License.
There's more detail on the differences between these licenses, in the following sections.
Why is TinyMCE free?
Open source first appeared in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Then in the early 1990s, the first operating system that could be classified as open source was released.
TinyMCE became available as open source software, in 2004 with the TinyMCE 1.0 release (by MoxieCode).
Open source availability has several advantages for users, which is why TinyMCE continues to be open source:
- It’s transparent, with development happening in the open
- It’s supported by a community, and developed in a collaborative way
- Anyone can access the project and have access to a rich text editor when they need it
How to get started with TinyMCE
What parts of TinyMCE are free?
TinyMCE has been engineered so that it’s adaptable to you and your needs.
The rich text editor adapts to your needs with customization available from the different TinyMCE plugins. You pick the features you want from the plugin list (see the table below for our free and paid plugins), and add them to the editor.
All you then do is assemble the components (either through APIs or coding), customize parts (if you desire) and draw on our decades-long experience in building and maintaining rich text editors.
There’s even use case specific starter configs and demos, to make it easier for you to get started, along with detailed documentation and support.
Core plugins – Free to use with TinyMCE
Premium plugins – Available with a Plan
How do you get started with our free WYSIWYG core editor?
You might ask “If TinyMCE is so trusted, and free to use, is it also possible to get started with it quickly?”
You can add the core editor to your applications with just 6 lines of code.
The quickest way to get started with those 6 lines is a CDN link to Tiny Cloud. There are two advantages in using it this way:
- With Tiny Cloud, you don’t need to download anything
- You’ll always be up-to-date with the latest version and features
Here’s how to to it:
- Get an API key to begin
- Copy your API key into your application
- Add the tinymce.init script with the selector option. We have an article that guides you through how to get your Tiny Cloud API key set up in 5 minutes.
Here’s how TinyMCE looks in action:
Looking for a free WYSIWYG editor outside of Cloud-hosted options?
You can also check out TinyMCE self-hosting options.
What happens after the TinyMCE 14-day premium trial ends?
When you sign up for a free TinyMCE API key, you also get a free 14-day trial of our Premium plugins. Here’s what happens after that ends:
After 14 days, you can still use the core TinyMCE editor for free – the API key never expires.
However, if you’d like to continue using any of the premium features, consider one of the paid plans.
TinyMCE runs on a core and Freemium model
The free, TinyMCE WYSIWYG core editor is a quality, basic product.
At the same time, the paid plans offer quality, advanced plugins with additional features – which financially support the ongoing development of the core editor and core basic/free plugins (see table above).
Does the free TinyMCE version work with frameworks?
The TinyMCE editor component can be integrated with your framework or application of choice. We support 12+ framework integrations (7 first-party and 5 third-party endorsed). Check out these blog articles to help you get started:
- Enhance Bootstrap forms with WYSIWYG editing
- Enhance React forms with a rich text editor
- Create an Angular reactive form with a rich text editor
- Add a rich text editor to a simple Vue project
- Add WYSIWYG editor to your website
- TinyMCE core free plugins
The TinyMCE core editor includes all your standard text formatting options plus 44 free plugins – that you can add or remove as needed. Refer to the table above to see the full list of free core plugins.
The core plugins provide a comprehensive toolkit of features and customizations that you can use to create a rich authoring experience in your application.
Some of the TinyMCE free plugins include:
- Content options – anchors, links, images, media, emoticons, code snippets, and tables
- Document options – save/autosave, page break, find and replace, word count
What specifically can I do with TinyMCE free plugins?
- Styling – to match editor content with published styles for the full WYSIWYG experience
- Templates – so users can insert repeated content with the click of a button
- Code view – for more advanced users that want to see the HTML under the hood
- Integrated image/asset management – with Tiny Drive
- And lots more – scroll down to the Core Plugins on our Plugins Directory page to view the full list and read more about each one.
Here’s a demo of TinyMCE configured with all of the core plugins switched on.
- Follow the codepen link
If you only need one, two, five or ten of these options, and you don’t want the menu bar, that’s all configurable.
For the editor appearance, you can also try customizing the TinyMCE toolbar option in the demo.
TinyMCE premium paid features
Premium features serve specific needs.
They also serve developers’ needs for variety, and volume. Essentially, the more you need to do, or the more specific the use case, the more likely a paid TinyMCE version (ie. using premium plugins) suits you.
For example, if you have the need for:
- Productivity, compliance, or collaboration tools – plugins like PowerPaste, Spell Checker Pro, Comments, and other Tiny premium plugins answer those requirements
- Support, usage, or licensing options – access to our commercial agreement options allows you to utilize TinyMCE outside of our open source license
- Specific designs, UX, or branding – apply custom skins and icons to better match the rest of your product.
There are two packages available online, Professional and Flexible. A comprehensive overview appears on the pricing page.
If you’re Self-hosting, and you’re using TinyMCE version 5, that’s governed by the terms of the LGPL open source license. More details about the LGPL license are discussed below.
However, if you’re using TinyMCE version 6, you’re working under the MIT license terms.
If you’re using Tiny Cloud, its terms of service apply.
- If you use TinyMCE for free, it’s required that you include the ‘Powered by Tiny’ branding in the editor frame.
- Free plans don’t include support.
- To remove branding, get support, or add a premium plugin, you need to sign up for a paid subscription.
Open source license (Community) usage
TinyMCE version 6:
MIT License*, available on GitHub (This content is not legal advice).
(*As at July 2022)
Under this license, you can:
- Use it for commercial purposes
- Modify the software and create derivative works
- Distribute the original or modified versions
- Use privately
- Hold TinyMCE liable for any damages
- Sublicense TinyMCE under a different license (unless that license is GPL). Each user that receives TinyMCE from you, has the same rights as you do.
- Include the copyright notices: The original copyright notice and a copy of the license itself
- Abide by our “Powered by TinyMCE” product attribution requirements.
TinyMCE version 5:
The LGPL licence was designed as a bridge between permissive and copyleft licensing. The LGPL licence is not permissive, not does it fit into a copyleft licence set of rules. The TinyMCE version 5 series has the LGPL licence, which means use of the source code has rules that falls between permissive, and copyleft.
More info about the LGPL can be found at tl;drLegal. If these terms are too onerous, our commercial terms remove many of these restrictions.
TinyMCE commercial use – free and paid licenses
If you’re a large organization there are two options:
- Utilize the free core editor and free plugins
You can integrate the free TinyMCE core editor component (and free plugins) into your tech stack, to build your project and/or application.
Once the project is complete:
- You can launch it as a proprietary piece of software
- That software includes all or part of the original TinyMCE open source code
- You can charge for that proprietary software.
Note: the “Powered by TinyMCE” attribution mentioned in the above section, must remain on the editor.
- Utilize the free core editor and paid premium plugins
For premium plugins, your product can access premium plugins when you set up a subscription, and become a subscriber.
When the project is complete:
- As a subscriber, you receive a non-exclusive, limited right to use the Premium plugins under the terms and conditions of the Cloud Services Subscription Agreement
- Under this agreement, there is a specific scope, and specific TinyMCE products you can use.
- The key term - an “Authorized method”, which is the Software allowed to be used during the Subscription Period.
- You can charge customers for the project, and provide services, with some limits defined by the Cloud Services Subscription Agreement.
Will TinyMCE always be free forever?
For the core editor, this is the ongoing intention. TinyMCE will always place the open source community first, before any commercial enterprise.
For more TinyMCE information
If you’d like to see the open source community in action, check on the TinyMCE GitHub page. It includes a discussion space for sharing ideas and asking questions on TinyMCE.
Interested in TinyMCE’s future? Take a look at the Product Roadmap. You can see some of the upcoming TinyMCE features, and have your say on what’s next for TinyMCE.