Substance is a JavaScript library for web-based content editing. It provides building blocks for realizing custom text editors.

Custom document models

Define a custom schema, by including common content types, such as paragraphs and headings and defining custom elements. Use ready-made UI components to build your very own web-based document editor.

Operation based manipulation

Substance documents are manipulated through operations that can be undone, redone and distributed over a network for concurrent manipulations (collaborative editing).

HTML/XML import export

Substance interacts well with HTML/XML content. E.g. you can import whole XML documents or insert HTML fragments from the clipboard.

Server and client-side execution

Substance runs in the browser and server-side environments, such as Node.js.

Learn how to embed this component into your app, or define your own custom editor.


Being around for five years, Substance has been used in a variety of projects. Here is a short selection of software built with Substance.


Together with eLife, Substance is developing Lens, an open source toolkit around scientific content. In June 2013 eLife launched the original Lens Reader, which provides a novel way of looking at content on the web. Lens Browser and Lens Writer followed in 2015 complementing the Lens ecosystem.


Archivist is a new platform used by researchers at International Society Memorial. They are creating an archive of interview transcriptions related to the topic of Ost-Arbeiters and WWII POWs. Using Archivist they associate words and passages with an ontology of subject terms, locations, persons and definitions. Later they are able to examine that data and find relevant text passages easily.


Substance Composer is a destkop application that let's you create and share professional web-first publications. You can download the software for Mac OSX, Windows and Ubuntu Linux. Please note, that Composer uses an earlier version of Substance and hasn't seen updates in the last year.


Here is a miscellaneous collection of publications, related to Substance and digital publishing in general.

Daniel Beilinson on September 15 2015
Michael Aufreiter on September 4 2015
Michael Aufreiter on April 14 2015
Michael Aufreiter on March 17 2014

About us

Substance is being developed as an open source project since 2010. In 2014 Substance Software GmbH was founded to provide consulting and support.

Michael Aufreiter Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Michael is the initiator of Substance. He coordinates the project and leads UI/UX development. He is a passionate open source commiter since many years. Notable projects include Prose, a visual interface for managing content on GitHub, eLife Lens and of course Substance. Find him on Twitter and Github.
Oliver Buchtala Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Oliver has worked in various fields of Computer Science. He loves and masters code generation, parsers and lately, Javascript. Back in 2010, he helped with the initial design of the Substance Document Model. Today he's involved in every aspect of development, with a focus on infrastructure and system architecture. Find him on Github.

Work with us

As experts in the fields of academic publishing, online journalism and Open Government, we are offering custom integrations of the Substance platform. These can either be scoped prototyping projects or long-term contracts including a fixed monthly time-budget for custom development. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.