Delta Format

The Delta Format was originally described by the Quill rich text editor. We adapted the approach to describe changes on sequence-like data (e.g. Y.Text, Y.Array, Y.XmlFragment).

A Delta is a format to describe changes on a sequence-like data structure like Y.Array, Y.XmlFragment, or Y.Text. But it can also be used to describe the current state of a sequence-like data structure, as you can see in the following example:

const ytext = ydoc.getText()
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ytext.toDelta() // => []
ytext.insert(0, 'World', { bold: true })
ytext.insert(0, 'Hello ')
ytext.toDelta() // => [{ insert: 'Hello ' }, { insert: 'World', attributes: { bold: true } }]

In many cases, you can even use the delta format to apply changes on a document. In Y.Text the delta format is very handy to express complex operations:

ytext.insert(0, 'Hello ')
ytext.insert(6, 'World', { bold: true })
// is equivalent to
ytext.applyDelta([{ insert: 'Hello ' }, { insert: 'World', attributes: { bold: true } }])

Delta Description

Delete

delta = [{
delete: 3
}]

Expresses the intention to delete the first 3 characters.

Retain

delta = [{
retain: 1
}, {
delete: 3
}]

Expresses the intention to retain one item, and then delete three. E.g.

ytext.insert(0, '12345')
ytext.applyDelta(delta)
ytext.toDelta() // => { insert: '15' }

Insert (on Y.Text)

The insert delta is always a string in Y.Text. Furthermore, Y.Text also allows assigning formatting attributes to the inserted text.

delta = [{
retain: 1
}, {
insert: 'abc', attributes: { bold: true }
}, {
retain: 1
}, {
insert: 'xyz'
}]

Expresses the intention to insert "abc" at index-position 1 and make the insertion bold. Then we skip another character and insert "xyz" without formatting attributes. E.g.

ytext.insert(0, '123')
ytext.applyDelta(delta)
ytext.toDelta() // => [{ insert: '1' },
// { insert: 'abc', attributes: { bold: true } },
// { insert: '2xyz3' }]

Retain (on Y.Text)

In Y.Text the retain delta may also contain formatting attributes that are applied on the retained text.

delta = [{
retain: 5, attributes: { italic: true }
}]

Expresses the intention to format the first five characters italic.

Insert (on Y.Array & Y.XmlFragment)

The insert delta is always an Array of inserted content in Y.Array & Y.XmlFragment.

yarray.observe(event => { console.log(event.changes.delta) })
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yarray.insert(0, [1, 2, 3]) // => [{ insert: [1, 2, 3] }]
yarray.insert(2, ["abc"]) // => [{ retain: 2 }, { insert: ["abc"] }]
yarray.delete(0, 1) // => [{ delete: 1 }]

The delta format is very powerful to express changes that are performed in a Transaction. As explained in the shared types section, events are fired after transactions. With the delta format we can express multiple changes in a single event. E.g.

yarray.observe(event => { console.log(event.changes.delta) })
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ydoc.transact(() => {
// perform all changes in a single transaction
yarray.insert(0, [1, 2, 3]) // => [{ insert: [1, 2, 3] }]
yarray.insert(2, ["abc"]) // => [{ retain: 2 }, { insert: ["abc"] }]
yarray.delete(0, 1) // => [{ delete: 1 }]
}) // => [{ insert: [2, "abc", 3] }]
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ydoc.transact(() => {
yarray.insert(0, 'x')
yarray.insert(2, 'y')
}) // => [{ insert: ['x'] }, { retain: 1 }, { insert: ['y'] }]

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