Parse, Resolve, and Dereference JSON Schema $ref pointers in Node and browsers
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Latest commit 25b178a Oct 31, 2018

JSON Schema $Ref Parser

Parse, Resolve, and Dereference JSON Schema $ref pointers

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Browser Compatibility

The Problem:

You've got a JSON Schema with $ref pointers to other files and/or URLs. Maybe you know all the referenced files ahead of time. Maybe you don't. Maybe some are local files, and others are remote URLs. Maybe they are a mix of JSON and YAML format. Maybe some of the files contain cross-references to each other.

  "definitions": {
    "person": {
      // references an external file
      "$ref": "schemas/people/Bruce-Wayne.json"
    "place": {
      // references a sub-schema in an external file
      "$ref": "schemas/places.yaml#/definitions/Gotham-City"
    "thing": {
      // references a URL
      "$ref": ""
    "color": {
      // references a value in an external file via an internal reference
      "$ref": "#/definitions/thing/properties/colors/black-as-the-night"

The Solution:

JSON Schema $Ref Parser is a full JSON Reference and JSON Pointer implementation that crawls even the most complex JSON Schemas and gives you simple, straightforward JavaScript objects.

  • Use JSON or YAML schemas — or even a mix of both!
  • Supports $ref pointers to external files and URLs, as well as custom sources such as databases
  • Can bundle multiple files into a single schema that only has internal $ref pointers
  • Can dereference your schema, producing a plain-old JavaScript object that's easy to work with
  • Supports circular references, nested references, back-references, and cross-references between files
  • Maintains object reference equality — $ref pointers to the same value always resolve to the same object instance
  • Tested in Node, io.js, and all major web browsers on Windows, Mac, and Linux


$RefParser.dereference(mySchema, function(err, schema) {
  if (err) {
  else {
    // `schema` is just a normal JavaScript object that contains your entire JSON Schema,
    // including referenced files, combined into a single object

Or use Promises syntax instead. The following example is the same as above:

  .then(function(schema) {
  .catch(function(err) {

For more detailed examples, please see the API Documentation



Install using npm:

npm install json-schema-ref-parser

Then require it in your code:

var $RefParser = require('json-schema-ref-parser');

Web Browsers

Reference ref-parser.js or ref-parser.min.js in your HTML:

<script src=""></script>
    .then(function(schema) {
    .catch(function(err) {

API Documentation

Full API documentation is available right here


I welcome any contributions, enhancements, and bug-fixes. File an issue on GitHub and submit a pull request.


To build/test the project locally on your computer:

  1. Clone this repo
    git clone

  2. Install dependencies
    npm install

  3. Run the build script
    npm run build

  4. Run the tests
    npm test

  5. Start the local web server
    npm start (then browse to http://localhost:8080/test/)


JSON Schema $Ref Parser is 100% free and open-source, under the MIT license. Use it however you want.