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BlockSuite Overview

BlockSuite was originally designed for the AFFiNE knowledge base. In AFFiNE, the same piece of data can be presented in various forms including documents, whiteboards, and tables. Users can smoothly switch among these different forms with real-time collaboration support. To this end, BlockSuite focuses on utilizing blocks as its primitive element to create a standardized collaborative editing engine. This consists of the following modules:

  • ⚡️ CRDT-Driven Block State Management: The block tree model in BlockSuite is implemented using the Yjs CRDT library. Acting like a conflict-free Git, CRDT (conflict-free replicated data type) enables the editor to have built-in conflict resolution and time travel capabilities. By using CRDT as the single source of truth, all editors based on BlockSuite are natively collaborative. Plus, CRDT is blazingly fast.
  • ⚛️ Atomic Block UI Components: In BlockSuite, blocks act like molecules, which can be further assembled from other blocks or more atomic components. These atomic components include rich-text and canvas renderers. For example, in BlockSuite, 100 paragraph blocks will generate 100 instances of rich-text components, and a form block could connect to multiple rich-text components. All these rich-text instances are linked to the same CRDT block tree, ensuring the cross-block editing operations can be consistently managed. Additionally, BlockSuite editors and blocks are all defined as Web Components, making them easily integratable with other frameworks.
  • 🎨 Adaptable Selection Manager: BlockSuite models operations on abstract selection states, allowing for the extension of various types of selections that are well-suited for multi-user collaboration.
  • 💾 Content Transformation and Serialization: BlockSuite supports JSON-based document snapshots and offers extensibility for compatibility with third-party formats. It also provides auxiliary tools for managing forward and backward compatibility, as well as data validation and migration issues.
  • 📡 Providers for Data Synchronization: The document state in BlockSuite can be serialized into binary and distributed through various providers, allowing for transmission via WebSocket, or storage into persistent backends like SQLite or IndexedDB. Thanks to their support for on-demand loading and incremental updates, these providers work efficiently.

Based on this framework, BlockSuite has already implemented editing capabilities for various types of structured data: