Slate works with pure JSON objects. All it requires is that those JSON objects conform to certain interfaces. For example, a text node in Slate must obey the Text interface:
Which means it must have a text property with a string of content.
But any other custom properties are also allowed, and completely up to you. This lets you tailor your data to your specific domain and use case, adding whatever formatting logic you'd like, without Slate getting in the way.
This interface-based approach separates Slate from most other richtext editors which require you to work with their hand-rolled "model" classes, and makes it much easier to reason about. It also means that it avoids startup time penalties related to "initializing" the data model.
To take another example, the Element node interface in Slate is:
This is a very permissive interface. All it requires is that the children property be defined containing the element's child nodes.
But you can extend elements (or any other interface) with your own custom properties that are specific to your domain. For example, you might have "paragraph" and "link" elements:
The type and url properties there are your own custom API. Slate sees that they exist, but it doesn't ever use them for anything. However, when it goes to render a link element you'll receive an object with the custom properties attached, so that you can render it as:
When getting started with Slate, it's important to understand all of the interfaces it defines. There are a handful of them that are discussed in each of the guides.
In addition to the typing information, each interface in Slate also exposes a series of helper functions that make them easier to work with.
For example, when working with nodes:
Or, when working with ranges:
There are lots of helper functions available for all of the common use cases when working with the different interfaces. When getting started it pays to read through them all, because you can often simplify complex logic into just a handful of lines of code with them.
In addition to the built-in helper functions, you might want to define your own custom helper functions and expose them on your own custom namespaces.
For example, if your editor supports images, you might want a helper that determines if an element is an image element:
You can define these as one-off functions easily. But you might also bundle them up into namespaces, just like the core interfaces do, and use them instead. For example:
This makes it easy to reuse domain-specific logic alongside the built-in Slate helpers.