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Automerge: A New Foundation for Collaboration Software

A talk by Martin Kleppmann
Author, Design Data-Intensive Applications

Lots of software these days needs to enable collaboration between several users. We know how to build basic web apps, where all users read and update data in a shared database. But real-time collaboration, as we know it from Google Docs or Figma or Trello, is a much bigger challenge. It gets even harder if you want to allow users to continue working while offline.

Automerge is an open-source library that aims to make collaboration software simple and robust. It provides a shared JSON-like data structure that several users can update at the same time, and which automatically merges all updates into a consistent view. It provides data formats for efficiently storing this data and syncing it between users. It seamlessly supports both offline work and live real-time collaboration while online.

Internally, Automerge is based on Conflict-free Replicated Data Types (CRDTs). In this talk we will explore some of the interesting computer science research that makes it possible, and see how it is used in practice.

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