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Document Data Model

Automerge documents are quite similar to JSON objects. A document always consists of a root map which is a map from strings to other automerge values, which can themselves be composite types.

The types in automerge are:

  • Composite types
  • Scalar (non-composite) types:
    • IEEE 754 64 bit floating point numbers
    • Unsigned integers
    • Signed integers
    • Booleans Strings
    • Timestamps
    • Counters
    • Byte arrays

See below for how these types map to JavaScript types.


Maps have string keys and any automerge type as a value. "string" here means a unicode string. The underlying representation in automerge is as UTF-8 byte sequences but they are exposed as utf-16 strings in javascript.


A list is an ordered sequence of automerge values. The underlying data structure is an RGA sequence, which means that concurrent insertions and deletions can be merged in a manner which attempts to preserve user intent.


Text is an implementation of the peritext CRDT. This is conceptually similar to a list where each element is a single unicode scalar value representing a single character. In addition to the characters Text also supports "marks". Marks are tuples of the form (start, end, name, value) which have the following meanings:

  • start - the index of the beginning of the mark
  • end - the index of the end of the mark
  • name - the name of the mark
  • value - any scalar (as in automerge scalar) value

For example, a bold mark from characters 1 to 5 might be represented as (1, 5, "bold", true).

Note that the restriction to scalar values for the value of a mark will be lifted in future, although mark values will never be mutable - instead you should always create a new mark when updating a value. For now, if you need complex values in a mark you should serialize the value to a string.


Timestamps are the integer number of milliseconds since the unix epoch (midnight 1970, UTC).


Counters are a simple CRDT which just merges by adding all concurrent operations. They can be incremented and decremented.

Javascript language mapping

The mapping to javascript is accomplished with the use of proxies. This means that in the javascript library maps appear as objects and lists appear as Arrays. There is only one numeric type in javascript - number - so the javascript library guesses a bit. If you insert a javascript number for which Number.isInteger returns true then the number will be inserted as an integer, otherwise it will be a floating point value.

How Text and String are represented will depend on whether you are using the next API

Timestamps are represented as javascript Dates.

Counters are represented as instances of the Counter class.

Putting it all together, here's an example of an automerge document containing all the value types:

import * as A from "@automerge/automerge/next";

let doc = A.from({
map: {
key: "value",
nested_map: { key: "value" },
nested_list: [1],
list: ["a", "b", "c", { nested: "map" }, ["nested list"]],
// Note we are using the `next` API for text, so text sequences are strings
text: "some text",
// In the `next` API non mergable strings are instances of `RawString`.
// You should generally not need to use these. They are retained for backward
// compatibility
raw_string: new A.RawString("rawstring"),
integer: 1,
float: 2.3,
boolean: true,
bytes: new Uint8Array([1, 2, 3]),
date: new Date(),
counter: new A.Counter(1),
none: null,

doc = A.change(doc, (d) => {
// Insert 'Hello' at the beginning of the string
A.splice(d, ["text"], 0, 0, "Hello ");
d.counter.increment(20); = "new value"; = "new nested value";
d.list[0] = "A";
d.list.insertAt(0, "Z");
d.list[4].nested = "MAP";
d.list[5][0] = "NESTED LIST";


// Prints
// {
// map: {
// key: 'new value',
// nested_map: { key: 'new nested value' },
// nested_list: [ 1 ]
// },
// list: [ 'Z', 'A', 'b', 'c', { nested: 'MAP' }, [ 'NESTED LIST' ] ],
// text: 'Hello world',
// raw_string: RawString { val: 'rawstring' },
// integer: 1,
// float: 2.3,
// boolean: true,
// bytes: Uint8Array(3) [ 1, 2, 3 ],
// date: 2023-09-11T13:35:12.229Z,
// counter: Counter { value: 21 },
// none: null
// }