Module

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)

JSON is a lightweight data-interchange format.

A JSON value is one of the following:

  • Double-quoted text: "foo".

  • Number: 1, 1.0, 2.0e2.

  • Boolean: true, false.

  • Null: null.

  • Array: an ordered list of values, enclosed by square brackets:

    ["foo", 1, 1.0, 2.0e2, true, false, null]
    
  • Object: a collection of name/value pairs, enclosed by curly braces; each name is double-quoted text; the values may be any JSON values:

    {"a": "foo", "b": 1, "c": 1.0, "d": 2.0e2, "e": true, "f": false, "g": null}
    

A JSON array or object may contain nested arrays, objects, and scalars to any depth:

{"foo": {"bar": 1, "baz": 2}, "bat": [0, 1, 2]}
[{"foo": 0, "bar": 1}, ["baz", 2]]

Using Module JSON

To make module JSON available in your code, begin with:

require 'json'

All examples here assume that this has been done.

Parsing JSON

You can parse a String containing JSON data using either of two methods:

  • JSON.parse(source, opts)

  • JSON.parse!(source, opts)

where

  • source is a Ruby object.

  • opts is a Hash object containing options that control both input allowed and output formatting.

The difference between the two methods is that JSON.parse! omits some checks and may not be safe for some source data; use it only for data from trusted sources. Use the safer method JSON.parse for less trusted sources.

Parsing JSON Arrays

When source is a JSON array, JSON.parse by default returns a Ruby Array:

json = '["foo", 1, 1.0, 2.0e2, true, false, null]'
ruby = JSON.parse(json)
ruby # => ["foo", 1, 1.0, 200.0, true, false, nil]
ruby.class # => Array

The JSON array may contain nested arrays, objects, and scalars to any depth:

json = '[{"foo": 0, "bar": 1}, ["baz", 2]]'
JSON.parse(json) # => [{"foo"=>0, "bar"=>1}, ["baz", 2]]

Parsing JSON Objects

When the source is a JSON object, JSON.parse by default returns a Ruby Hash:

json = '{"a": "foo", "b": 1, "c": 1.0, "d": 2.0e2, "e": true, "f": false, "g": null}'
ruby = JSON.parse(json)
ruby # => {"a"=>"foo", "b"=>1, "c"=>1.0, "d"=>200.0, "e"=>true, "f"=>false, "g"=>nil}
ruby.class # => Hash

The JSON object may contain nested arrays, objects, and scalars to any depth:

json = '{"foo": {"bar": 1, "baz": 2}, "bat": [0, 1, 2]}'
JSON.parse(json) # => {"foo"=>{"bar"=>1, "baz"=>2}, "bat"=>[0, 1, 2]}

Parsing JSON Scalars

When the source is a JSON scalar (not an array or object), JSON.parse returns a Ruby scalar.

String:

ruby = JSON.parse('"foo"')
ruby # => 'foo'
ruby.class # => String

Integer:

ruby = JSON.parse('1')
ruby # => 1
ruby.class # => Integer

Float:

ruby = JSON.parse('1.0')
ruby # => 1.0
ruby.class # => Float
ruby = JSON.parse('2.0e2')
ruby # => 200
ruby.class # => Float

Boolean:

ruby = JSON.parse('true')
ruby # => true
ruby.class # => TrueClass
ruby = JSON.parse('false')
ruby # => false
ruby.class # => FalseClass

Null:

ruby = JSON.parse('null')
ruby # => nil
ruby.class # => NilClass

Generating JSON

To generate a Ruby String containing JSON data, use method JSON.generate(source, opts), where

  • source is a Ruby object.

  • opts is a Hash object containing options that control both input allowed and output formatting.

Generating JSON from Arrays

When the source is a Ruby Array, JSON.generate returns a String containing a JSON array:

ruby = [0, 's', :foo]
json = JSON.generate(ruby)
json # => '[0,"s","foo"]'

The Ruby Array array may contain nested arrays, hashes, and scalars to any depth:

ruby = [0, [1, 2], {foo: 3, bar: 4}]
json = JSON.generate(ruby)
json # => '[0,[1,2],{"foo":3,"bar":4}]'

Generating JSON from Hashes

When the source is a Ruby Hash, JSON.generate returns a String containing a JSON object:

ruby = {foo: 0, bar: 's', baz: :bat}
json = JSON.generate(ruby)
json # => '{"foo":0,"bar":"s","baz":"bat"}'

The Ruby Hash array may contain nested arrays, hashes, and scalars to any depth:

ruby = {foo: [0, 1], bar: {baz: 2, bat: 3}, bam: :bad}
json = JSON.generate(ruby)
json # => '{"foo":[0,1],"bar":{"baz":2,"bat":3},"bam":"bad"}'

Generating JSON from Other Objects

When the source is neither an Array nor a Hash, the generated JSON data depends on the class of the source.

When the source is a Ruby Integer or Float, JSON.generate returns a String containing a JSON number:

JSON.generate(42) # => '42'
JSON.generate(0.42) # => '0.42'

When the source is a Ruby String, JSON.generate returns a String containing a JSON string (with double-quotes):

JSON.generate('A string') # => '"A string"'

When the source is true, false or nil, JSON.generate returns a String containing the corresponding JSON token:

JSON.generate(true) # => 'true'
JSON.generate(false) # => 'false'
JSON.generate(nil) # => 'null'

When the source is none of the above, JSON.generate returns a String containing a JSON string representation of the source:

JSON.generate(:foo) # => '"foo"'
JSON.generate(Complex(0, 0)) # => '"0+0i"'
JSON.generate(Dir.new('.')) # => '"#<Dir>"'

JSON Additions

When you “round trip” a non-String object from Ruby to JSON and back, you have a new String, instead of the object you began with:

ruby0 = Range.new(0, 2)
json = JSON.generate(ruby0)
json # => '0..2"'
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json)
ruby1 # => '0..2'
ruby1.class # => String

You can use JSON additions to preserve the original object. The addition is an extension of a ruby class, so that:

  • JSON.generate stores more information in the JSON string.

  • JSON.parse, called with option create_additions, uses that information to create a proper Ruby object.

This example shows a Range being generated into JSON and parsed back into Ruby, both without and with the addition for Range:

ruby = Range.new(0, 2)
# This passage does not use the addition for Range.
json0 = JSON.generate(ruby)
ruby0 = JSON.parse(json0)
# This passage uses the addition for Range.
require 'json/add/range'
json1 = JSON.generate(ruby)
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json1, create_additions: true)
# Make a nice display.
display = <<EOT
Generated JSON:
  Without addition:  #{json0} (#{json0.class})
  With addition:     #{json1} (#{json1.class})
Parsed JSON:
  Without addition:  #{ruby0.inspect} (#{ruby0.class})
  With addition:     #{ruby1.inspect} (#{ruby1.class})
EOT
puts display

This output shows the different results:

Generated JSON:
  Without addition:  "0..2" (String)
  With addition:     {"json_class":"Range","a":[0,2,false]} (String)
Parsed JSON:
  Without addition:  "0..2" (String)
  With addition:     0..2 (Range)

The JSON module includes additions for certain classes. You can also craft custom additions. See Custom JSON Additions.

Built-in Additions

The JSON module includes additions for certain classes. To use an addition, require its source:

  • BigDecimal: require 'json/add/bigdecimal'

  • Complex: require 'json/add/complex'

  • Date: require 'json/add/date'

  • DateTime: require 'json/add/date_time'

  • Exception: require 'json/add/exception'

  • OpenStruct: require 'json/add/ostruct'

  • Range: require 'json/add/range'

  • Rational: require 'json/add/rational'

  • Regexp: require 'json/add/regexp'

  • Set: require 'json/add/set'

  • Struct: require 'json/add/struct'

  • Symbol: require 'json/add/symbol'

  • Time: require 'json/add/time'

To reduce punctuation clutter, the examples below show the generated JSON via puts, rather than the usual inspect,

BigDecimal:

require 'json/add/bigdecimal'
ruby0 = BigDecimal(0) # 0.0
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"BigDecimal","b":"27:0.0"}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 0.0
ruby1.class # => BigDecimal

Complex:

require 'json/add/complex'
ruby0 = Complex(1+0i) # 1+0i
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Complex","r":1,"i":0}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 1+0i
ruby1.class # Complex

Date:

require 'json/add/date'
ruby0 = Date.today # 2020-05-02
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Date","y":2020,"m":5,"d":2,"sg":2299161.0}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 2020-05-02
ruby1.class # Date

DateTime:

require 'json/add/date_time'
ruby0 = DateTime.now # 2020-05-02T10:38:13-05:00
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"DateTime","y":2020,"m":5,"d":2,"H":10,"M":38,"S":13,"of":"-5/24","sg":2299161.0}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 2020-05-02T10:38:13-05:00
ruby1.class # DateTime

Exception (and its subclasses including RuntimeError):

require 'json/add/exception'
ruby0 = Exception.new('A message') # A message
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Exception","m":"A message","b":null}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # A message
ruby1.class # Exception
ruby0 = RuntimeError.new('Another message') # Another message
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"RuntimeError","m":"Another message","b":null}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # Another message
ruby1.class # RuntimeError

OpenStruct:

require 'json/add/ostruct'
ruby0 = OpenStruct.new(name: 'Matz', language: 'Ruby') # #<OpenStruct name="Matz", language="Ruby">
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"OpenStruct","t":{"name":"Matz","language":"Ruby"}}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # #<OpenStruct name="Matz", language="Ruby">
ruby1.class # OpenStruct

Range:

require 'json/add/range'
ruby0 = Range.new(0, 2) # 0..2
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Range","a":[0,2,false]}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 0..2
ruby1.class # Range

Rational:

require 'json/add/rational'
ruby0 = Rational(1, 3) # 1/3
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Rational","n":1,"d":3}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 1/3
ruby1.class # Rational

Regexp:

require 'json/add/regexp'
ruby0 = Regexp.new('foo') # (?-mix:foo)
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Regexp","o":0,"s":"foo"}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # (?-mix:foo)
ruby1.class # Regexp

Set:

require 'json/add/set'
ruby0 = Set.new([0, 1, 2]) # #<Set: {0, 1, 2}>
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Set","a":[0,1,2]}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # #<Set: {0, 1, 2}>
ruby1.class # Set

Struct:

require 'json/add/struct'
Customer = Struct.new(:name, :address) # Customer
ruby0 = Customer.new("Dave", "123 Main") # #<struct Customer name="Dave", address="123 Main">
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Customer","v":["Dave","123 Main"]}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # #<struct Customer name="Dave", address="123 Main">
ruby1.class # Customer

Symbol:

require 'json/add/symbol'
ruby0 = :foo # foo
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Symbol","s":"foo"}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # foo
ruby1.class # Symbol

Time:

require 'json/add/time'
ruby0 = Time.now # 2020-05-02 11:28:26 -0500
json = JSON.generate(ruby0) # {"json_class":"Time","s":1588436906,"n":840560000}
ruby1 = JSON.parse(json, create_additions: true) # 2020-05-02 11:28:26 -0500
ruby1.class # Time

Custom JSON Additions

In addition to the JSON additions provided, you can craft JSON additions of your own, either for Ruby built-in classes or for user-defined classes.

Here's a user-defined class Foo:

class Foo
  attr_accessor :bar, :baz
  def initialize(bar, baz)
    self.bar = bar
    self.baz = baz
  end
end

Here's the JSON addition for it:

# Extend class Foo with JSON addition.
class Foo
  # Serialize Foo object with its class name and arguments
  def to_json(*args)
    {
      JSON.create_id  => self.class.name,
      'a'             => [ bar, baz ]
    }.to_json(*args)
  end
  # Deserialize JSON string by constructing new Foo object with arguments.
  def self.json_create(object)
    new(*object['a'])
  end
end

Demonstration:

require 'json'
# This Foo object has no custom addition.
foo0 = Foo.new(0, 1)
json0 = JSON.generate(foo0)
obj0 = JSON.parse(json0)
# Lood the custom addition.
require_relative 'foo_addition'
# This foo has the custom addition.
foo1 = Foo.new(0, 1)
json1 = JSON.generate(foo1)
obj1 = JSON.parse(json1, create_additions: true)
#   Make a nice display.
display = <<EOT
Generated JSON:
  Without custom addition:  #{json0} (#{json0.class})
  With custom addition:     #{json1} (#{json1.class})
Parsed JSON:
  Without custom addition:  #{obj0.inspect} (#{obj0.class})
  With custom addition:     #{obj1.inspect} (#{obj1.class})
EOT
puts display

Output:

Generated JSON:
  Without custom addition:  "#<Foo:0x0000000006534e80>" (String)
  With custom addition:     {"json_class":"Foo","a":[0,1]} (String)
Parsed JSON:
  Without custom addition:  "#<Foo:0x0000000006534e80>" (String)
  With custom addition:     #<Foo:0x0000000006473bb8 @bar=0, @baz=1> (Foo)

Class Methods


If object is a String-convertible object (implementing to_str), calls JSON.parse with object and opts:

json = '[0, 1, null]'
JSON[json]# => [0, 1, nil]

Otherwise, calls JSON.generate with object and opts:

ruby = [0, 1, nil]
JSON[ruby] # => '[0,1,null]'

Encodes string using String.encode.

An alias for load

Instance Methods


Dumps obj as a JSON string, i.e. calls generate on the object and returns the result.

If anIO (an IO-like object or an object that responds to the write method) was given, the resulting JSON is written to it.

If the number of nested arrays or objects exceeds limit, an ArgumentError exception is raised. This argument is similar (but not exactly the same!) to the limit argument in Marshal.dump.

The default options for the generator can be changed via the dump_default_options method.

This method is part of the implementation of the load/dump interface of Marshal and YAML.

Arguments obj and opts here are the same as arguments obj and opts in JSON.generate.

By default, generates JSON data without checking for circular references in obj (option max_nesting set to false, disabled).

Raises an exception if obj contains circular references:

a = []; b = []; a.push(b); b.push(a)
# Raises SystemStackError (stack level too deep):
JSON.fast_generate(a)

Argument obj is the Ruby object to be converted to JSON.

Argument opts, if given, contains options for the generation, and must be a Hash-convertible object (implementing to_hash).

Returns a String containing the generated JSON data.

See also JSON.fast_generate, JSON.pretty_generate.


When obj is an Array-convertible object (implementing to_ary), returns a String containing a JSON array:

obj = ["foo", 1.0, true, false, nil]
json = JSON.generate(obj)
json # => '["foo",1.0,true,false,null]'

When obj is a Hash-convertible object, return a String containing a JSON object:

obj = {foo: 0, bar: 's', baz: :bat}
json = JSON.generate(obj)
json # => '{"foo":0,"bar":"s","baz":"bat"}'

For examples of generating from other Ruby objects, see Generating JSON from Other Objects.

Input Options

Option allow_nan (boolean) specifies whether NaN, Infinity, and -Infinity may be generated; defaults to false.

With the default, false:

# Raises JSON::GeneratorError (920: NaN not allowed in JSON):
JSON.generate(JSON::NaN)
# Raises JSON::GeneratorError (917: Infinity not allowed in JSON):
JSON.generate(JSON::Infinity)
# Raises JSON::GeneratorError (917: -Infinity not allowed in JSON):
JSON.generate(JSON::MinusInfinity)

Allow:

ruby = [Float::NaN, Float::Infinity, Float::MinusInfinity]
JSON.generate(ruby, allow_nan: true) # => '[NaN,Infinity,-Infinity]'

Option max_nesting (Integer) specifies the maximum nesting depth in obj; defaults to 100.

With the default, 100:

obj = [[[[[[0]]]]]]
JSON.generate(obj) # => '[[[[[[0]]]]]]'

Too deep:

# Raises JSON::NestingError (nesting of 2 is too deep):
JSON.generate(obj, max_nesting: 2)
Output Options

The default formatting options generate the most compact JSON data, all on one line and with no whitespace.

You can use these formatting options to generate JSON data in a more open format, using whitespace. See also JSON.pretty_generate.

  • Option array_nl (String) specifies a string (usually a newline) to be inserted after each JSON array; defaults to the empty String, ''.

  • Option object_nl (String) specifies a string (usually a newline) to be inserted after each JSON object; defaults to the empty String, ''.

  • Option indent (String) specifies the string (usually spaces) to be used for indentation; defaults to the empty String, ''; defaults to the empty String, ''; has no effect unless options array_nl or object_nl specify newlines.

  • Option space (String) specifies a string (usually a space) to be inserted after the colon in each JSON object's pair; defaults to the empty String, ''.

  • Option space_before (String) specifies a string (usually a space) to be inserted before the colon in each JSON object's pair; defaults to the empty String, ''.

In this example, obj is used first to generate the shortest JSON data (no whitespace), then again with all formatting options specified:

obj = {foo: [:bar, :baz], bat: {bam: 0, bad: 1}}
json = JSON.generate(obj)
puts 'Compact:', json
opts = {
  array_nl: "\n",
  object_nl: "\n",
  indent+: '  ',
  space_before: ' ',
  space: ' '
}
puts 'Open:', JSON.generate(obj, opts)

Output:

Compact:
{"foo":["bar","baz"],"bat":{"bam":0,"bad":1}}
Open:
{
  "foo" : [
    "bar",
    "baz"
],
  "bat" : {
    "bam" : 0,
    "bad" : 1
  }
}

Raises an exception if any formatting option is not a String.

Exceptions

Raises an exception if obj contains circular references:

a = []; b = []; a.push(b); b.push(a)
# Raises JSON::NestingError (nesting of 100 is too deep):
JSON.generate(a)

Load a ruby data structure from a JSON source and return it. A source can either be a string-like object, an IO-like object, or an object responding to the read method. If proc was given, it will be called with any nested Ruby object as an argument recursively in depth first order. To modify the default options pass in the optional options argument as well.

BEWARE: This method is meant to serialise data from trusted user input, like from your own database server or clients under your control, it could be dangerous to allow untrusted users to pass JSON sources into it. The default options for the parser can be changed via the load_default_options method.

This method is part of the implementation of the load/dump interface of Marshal and YAML.

Argument source contains the String to be parsed. It must be a String-convertible object (implementing to_str), and must contain valid JSON data.

Argument opts, if given, contains options for the parsing, and must be a Hash-convertible object (implementing to_hash).

Returns the Ruby objects created by parsing the given source.


When source is a JSON array, returns a Ruby Array:

source = '["foo", 1.0, true, false, null]'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby # => ["foo", 1.0, true, false, nil]
ruby.class # => Array

When source is a JSON object, returns a Ruby Hash:

source = '{"a": "foo", "b": 1.0, "c": true, "d": false, "e": null}'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby # => {"a"=>"foo", "b"=>1.0, "c"=>true, "d"=>false, "e"=>nil}
ruby.class # => Hash

For examples of parsing for all JSON data types, see Parsing JSON.

Input Options

Option max_nesting (Integer) specifies the maximum nesting depth allowed; defaults to 100; specify false to disable depth checking.

With the default, false:

source = '[0, [1, [2, [3]]]]'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby # => [0, [1, [2, [3]]]]

Too deep:

# Raises JSON::NestingError (nesting of 2 is too deep):
JSON.parse(source, {max_nesting: 1})

Bad value:

# Raises TypeError (wrong argument type Symbol (expected Fixnum)):
JSON.parse(source, {max_nesting: :foo})

Option allow_nan (boolean) specifies whether to allow NaN, Infinity, and MinusInfinity in source; defaults to false.

With the default, false:

# Raises JSON::ParserError (225: unexpected token at '[NaN]'):
JSON.parse('[NaN]')
# Raises JSON::ParserError (232: unexpected token at '[Infinity]'):
JSON.parse('[Infinity]')
# Raises JSON::ParserError (248: unexpected token at '[-Infinity]'):
JSON.parse('[-Infinity]')

Allow:

source = '[NaN, Infinity, -Infinity]'
ruby = JSON.parse(source, {allow_nan: true})
ruby # => [NaN, Infinity, -Infinity]
Output Options

Option symbolize_names (boolean) specifies whether returned Hash keys should be Symbols; defaults to false (use Strings).

With the default, false:

source = '{"a": "foo", "b": 1.0, "c": true, "d": false, "e": null}'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby # => {"a"=>"foo", "b"=>1.0, "c"=>true, "d"=>false, "e"=>nil}

Use Symbols:

ruby = JSON.parse(source, {symbolize_names: true})
ruby # => {:a=>"foo", :b=>1.0, :c=>true, :d=>false, :e=>nil}

Option object_class (Class) specifies the Ruby class to be used for each JSON object; defaults to Hash.

With the default, Hash:

source = '{"a": "foo", "b": 1.0, "c": true, "d": false, "e": null}'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby.class # => Hash

Use class OpenStruct:

ruby = JSON.parse(source, {object_class: OpenStruct})
ruby # => #<OpenStruct a="foo", b=1.0, c=true, d=false, e=nil>

Option array_class (Class) specifies the Ruby class to be used for each JSON array; defaults to Array.

With the default, Array:

source = '["foo", 1.0, true, false, null]'
ruby = JSON.parse(source)
ruby.class # => Array

Use class Set:

ruby = JSON.parse(source, {array_class: Set})
ruby # => #<Set: {"foo", 1.0, true, false, nil}>

Option create_additions (boolean) specifies whether to use JSON additions in parsing. See JSON Additions.

Exceptions

Raises an exception if source is not valid JSON:

# Raises JSON::ParserError (783: unexpected token at ''):
JSON.parse('')

Calls

parse(source, opts)

with source and possibly modified opts.

Differences from JSON.parse:

  • Option max_nesting, if not provided, defaults to false, which disables checking for nesting depth.

  • Option allow_nan, if not provided, defaults to true.

Arguments obj and opts here are the same as arguments obj and opts in JSON.generate.

Default options are:

{
  indent: '  ',   # Two spaces
  space: ' ',     # One space
  array_nl: "\n", # Newline
  object_nl: "\n" # Newline
}

Example:

obj = {foo: [:bar, :baz], bat: {bam: 0, bad: 1}}
json = JSON.pretty_generate(obj)
puts json

Output:

{
  "foo": [
    "bar",
    "baz"
  ],
  "bat": {
    "bam": 0,
    "bad": 1
  }
}

Recursively calls passed Proc if the parsed data structure is an Array or Hash