JSON

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

JavaScript Object Notation
Filename extension
.json
Internet media type
application/json
Open format?Yes
Websitejson.org

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation, pronounced

arrays (or other serializable values). It is a commonly used data format with diverse uses in electronic data interchange, including that of web applications with servers
.

JSON is a language-independent data format. It was derived from JavaScript, but many modern programming languages include code to generate and parse JSON-format data. JSON filenames use the extension .json.

Douglas Crockford originally specified the JSON format in the early 2000s.[1] He and Chip Morningstar sent the first JSON message in April 2001.

Naming and pronunciation

The 2017 international standard (ECMA-404 and ISO/IEC 21778:2017) specifies that "JSON" is "pronounced /ˈ.sən/, as in 'Jason and The Argonauts'".[2][3] The first (2013) edition of ECMA-404 did not address the pronunciation.[4] The UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook states, "Douglas Crockford, who named and promoted the JSON format, says it's pronounced like the name Jason. But somehow, 'JAY-sawn'[a] seems to have become more common in the technical community."[5] Crockford said in 2011, "There's a lot of argument about how you pronounce that, but I strictly don't care."[1]

Standards

After

ISO/IEC 21778:2017.[2] The ECMA and ISO/IEC standards describe only the allowed syntax, whereas the RFC covers some security and interoperability considerations.[7]

History

Douglas Crockford at the Yahoo Building (2007)

JSON grew out of a need for a real-time server-to-browser session communication protocol without using browser plugins such as Flash or Java applets, the dominant methods used in the early 2000s.[8]

Crockford first specified and popularized the JSON format.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) connections open and recycling them before standard browser time-outs if no further data were exchanged. The cofounders had a round-table discussion and voted on whether to call the data format JSML (JavaScript Markup Language) or JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), as well as under what license type to make it available. The JSON.org[9] website was launched in 2001. In December 2005, Yahoo! began offering some of its Web services in JSON.[10]

A precursor to the JSON libraries was used in a children's digital asset trading game project named

.

JSON was based on a

programming languages. JSON's website lists JSON libraries
by language.

In October 2013,

RFC 8259, which is the current version of the Internet Standard STD 90.[12][13]

Crockford added a clause to the JSON license stating, "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil", in order to

open-source the JSON libraries while mocking corporate lawyers and those who are overly pedantic. On the other hand, this clause led to license compatibility problems of the JSON license with other open-source licenses since open-source software and free software usually imply no restrictions on the purpose of use.[14]

Syntax

The following example shows a possible JSON representation describing a person.

{
  "first_name": "John",
  "last_name": "Smith",
  "is_alive": true,
  "age": 27,
  "address": {
    "street_address": "21 2nd Street",
    "city": "New York",
    "state": "NY",
    "postal_code": "10021-3100"
  },
  "phone_numbers": [
    {
      "type": "home",
      "number": "212 555-1234"
    },
    {
      "type": "office",
      "number": "646 555-4567"
    }
  ],
  "children": [
    "Catherine",
    "Thomas",
    "Trevor"
  ],
  "spouse": null
}

Character encoding

Although Crockford originally asserted that JSON is a strict subset of JavaScript and ECMAScript,[15] his specification actually allows valid JSON documents that are not valid JavaScript; JSON allows the Unicode line terminators U+2028 LINE SEPARATOR and U+2029 PARAGRAPH SEPARATOR to appear unescaped in quoted strings, while ECMAScript 2018 and older do not.[16][17] This is a consequence of JSON disallowing only "control characters". For maximum portability, these characters should be backslash-escaped.

JSON exchange in an open ecosystem must be encoded in

Basic Multilingual Plane (U+0000 to U+FFFF). However, if escaped, those characters must be written using UTF-16 surrogate pairs. For example, to include the Emoji
character U+1F610 😐 NEUTRAL FACE in JSON:

{ "face": "😐" }
// or
{ "face": "\uD83D\uDE10" }

JSON became a strict subset of ECMAScript as of the language's 2019 revision.[17][18]

Data types

JSON's basic data types are:

  • Number: a signed decimal number that may contain a fractional part and may use exponential
    E notation but cannot include non-numbers such as NaN. The format makes no distinction between integer and floating-point. JavaScript uses IEEE-754 double-precision floating-point format for all its numeric values (later also supporting BigInt[19]
    ), but other languages implementing JSON may encode numbers differently.
  • String: a sequence of zero or more Unicode characters. Strings are delimited with double quotation marks and support a backslash escaping syntax.
  • Boolean
    : either of the values true or false
  • square bracket
    notation with comma-separated elements.
  • curly brackets
    and use commas to separate each pair, while within each pair, the colon ':' character separates the key or name from its value.
  • null: an empty value, using the word null

line feed, and carriage return. In particular, the byte order mark must not be generated by a conforming implementation (though it may be accepted when parsing JSON). JSON does not provide syntax for comments.[21]

Early versions of JSON (such as specified by

, where a JSON text was redefined as any serialized value.

Numbers in JSON are agnostic with regard to their representation within programming languages. While this allows for numbers of

signed zeros, but it does recommend expecting no more than IEEE 754 binary64 precision for "good interoperability". There is no inherent precision loss in serializing a machine-level binary representation of a floating-point number (like binary64) into a human-readable decimal representation (like numbers in JSON) and back since there exist published algorithms to do this exactly and optimally.[22]

Comments were intentionally excluded from JSON. In 2012, Douglas Crockford described his design decision thus: "I removed comments from JSON because I saw people were using them to hold parsing directives, a practice which would have destroyed interoperability."[21]

JSON disallows "trailing commas", a comma after the last value inside a data structure.[23] Trailing commas are a common feature of JSON derivatives to improve ease of use.[24]

Interoperability

RFC 8259
describes certain aspects of JSON syntax that, while legal per the specifications, can cause interoperability problems.

In 2015, the IETF published

RFC 7493
, describing the "I-JSON Message Format", a restricted profile of JSON that constrains the syntax and processing of JSON to avoid, as much as possible, these interoperability issues.

Semantics

While JSON provides a syntactic framework for data interchange, unambiguous data interchange also requires agreement between producer and consumer on the semantics of specific use of the JSON syntax.[25] One example of where such an agreement is necessary is the serialization of data types that are not part of the JSON standard, for example, dates and regular expressions.

Metadata and schema

The official

MIME type for JSON text is application/json,[26] and most modern implementations have adopted this. Legacy MIME types include text/json, text/x-json, and text/javascript.[27]

JSON Schema specifies a JSON-based format to define the structure of JSON data for validation, documentation, and interaction control. It provides a contract for the JSON data required by a given application and how that data can be modified.[28] JSON Schema is based on the concepts from XML Schema (XSD) but is JSON-based. As in XSD, the same serialization/deserialization tools can be used both for the schema and data, and it is self-describing. It is specified in an Internet Draft at the IETF, with the latest version as of 2024 being "Draft 2020-12".[29] There are several validators available for different programming languages,[30] each with varying levels of conformance. The standard filename extension is .json.[31]

The JSON standard does not support object

IETF draft standard for JSON-based object references exists.[32]

Uses

JSON-RPC is a remote procedure call (RPC) protocol built on JSON, as a replacement for XML-RPC or SOAP. It is a simple protocol that defines only a handful of data types and commands. JSON-RPC lets a system send notifications (information to the server that does not require a response) and multiple calls to the server that can be answered out of order.

client-side code then sends to the server, which immediately responds with a drop-down list of matching database
items.

JSON has seen ad hoc usage as a configuration language. However, it does not support comments. In 2012, Douglas Crockford, JSON creator, had this to say about comments in JSON when used as a configuration language: "I know that the lack of comments makes some people sad, but it shouldn't. Suppose you are using JSON to keep configuration files, which you would like to annotate. Go ahead and insert all the comments you like. Then pipe it through JSMin[33] before handing it to your JSON parser."[21]

MongoDB uses JSON-like data for its document-oriented database.

Some relational databases, such as PostgreSQL and MySQL, have added support for native JSON data types. This allows developers to store JSON data directly in a relational database without having to convert it to another data format.

Safety

JSON being a subset of JavaScript can lead to the misconception that it is safe to pass JSON texts to the JavaScript eval() function. This is not safe, due to certain valid JSON texts, specifically those containing U+2028 LINE SEPARATOR or U+2029 PARAGRAPH SEPARATOR, not being valid JavaScript code until JavaScript specifications were updated in 2019, and so older engines may not support it.[34] To avoid the many pitfalls caused by executing arbitrary code from the Internet, a new function, JSON.parse(), was first added to the fifth edition of ECMAScript,[35] which as of 2017 is supported by all major browsers. For non-supported browsers, an API-compatible JavaScript library is provided by Douglas Crockford.[36] In addition, the TC39 proposal "Subsume JSON" made ECMAScript a strict JSON superset as of the language's 2019 revision.[17][18] Various JSON parser implementations have suffered from denial-of-service attack and mass assignment vulnerability.[37][38]

Alternatives

JSON is promoted as a low-overhead alternative to XML as both of these formats have widespread support for creation, reading, and decoding in the real-world situations where they are commonly used.[39] Apart from XML, examples could include CSV and supersets of JSON. Google Protocol Buffers can fill this role, although it is not a data interchange language. CBOR has a superset of the JSON data types, but it is not text-based.

XML

XML has been used to describe structured data and to serialize objects. Various XML-based protocols exist to represent the same kind of data structures as JSON for the same kind of data interchange purposes. Data can be encoded in XML in several ways. The most expansive form using tag pairs results in a much larger (in character count) representation than JSON, but if data is stored in attributes and 'short tag' form where the closing tag is replaced with />, the representation is often about the same size as JSON or just a little larger. However, an XML attribute can only have a single value and each attribute can appear at most once on each element.

XML separates "data" from "metadata" (via the use of elements and attributes), while JSON does not have such a concept.

Another key difference is the addressing of values. JSON has objects with a simple "key" to "value" mapping, whereas in XML addressing happens on "nodes", which all receive a unique ID via the XML processor. Additionally, the XML standard defines a common attribute xml:id, that can be used by the user, to set an ID explicitly.

XML tag names cannot contain any of the characters !"#$%&'()*+,/;<=>?@[\]^`{|}~, nor a space character, and cannot begin with -, ., or a numeric digit, whereas JSON keys can (even if quotation mark and backslash must be escaped).[40]

XML values are strings of characters, with no built-in type safety. XML has the concept of schema, that permits strong typing, user-defined types, predefined tags, and formal structure, allowing for formal validation of an XML stream. JSON has several types built-in and has a similar schema concept in JSON Schema.

XML supports comments, while JSON does not.[41][21]

Supersets

Support for

supersets being created. Among them are HJSON,[42] HOCON, and JSON5 (which despite its name, is not the fifth version of JSON).[43][44]

YAML

YAML version 1.2 is a superset of JSON; prior versions were not strictly compatible. For example, escaping a slash / with a backslash \ is valid in JSON, but was not valid in YAML.[45] YAML supports comments, while JSON does not.[45][43][21]

CSON

CSON ("

significant indentation, unquoted keys, and assumes an outer object declaration. It was used for configuring GitHub's Atom text editor.[46][47][48]

There is also an unrelated project called CSON ("Cursive Script Object Notation") that is more syntactically similar to JSON.[49]

HOCON

HOCON ("Human-Optimized Config Object Notation") is a format for

human-readable data, and a superset of JSON.[50]
The uses of HOCON are:

JSON5

JSON5 ("JSON5 Data Interchange Format") is an extension of JSON syntax that just like JSON is also valid JavaScript syntax. The specification was started in 2012 and finished in 2018 with version 1.0.0.[61] The main differences to JSON syntax are:

  • Optional trailing commas
  • Unquoted object keys
  • Single quoted and multiline strings
  • Additional number formats
  • Comments

JSON5 syntax is supported in some software as an extension of JSON syntax, for instance in SQLite.[62]

JSONC

JSONC (JSON with Comments) is a subset of JSON5 used in Microsoft's Visual Studio Code:[63]

  • supports single line comments (//) and block comments (/* */)
  • accepts trailing commas, but they are discouraged and the editor will display a warning

Derivatives

Several serialization formats have been built on or from the JSON specification. Examples include

  • GeoJSON, a format designed for representing simple geographical features[64][65]

See also

  • BSON
  • Comparison of data serialization formats
  • Amazon Ion – a superset of JSON
  • Jackson (API)
  • jaql - a functional data processing and query language most commonly used for JSON query processing
  • jq - a "JSON query language" and high-level programming language
  • JSONiq - a JSON-oriented query and processing language based on XQuery
  • JSON streaming
  • S-expression

Notes

  1. cot-caught merger

References

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