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an erlang application for consuming, producing and manipulating json. inspired by yajl

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README.markdown

jsx (v1.4.1)

an erlang application for consuming, producing and manipulating json. inspired by yajl

copyright 2010-2013 alisdair sullivan

jsx is released under the terms of the MIT license

jsx may be built using either sinan or rebar

index

quickstart

to build the library and run tests

$ sinan build
$ sinan -r tests eunit

or

$ rebar compile
$ rebar eunit

to convert a utf8 binary containing a json string into an erlang term

1> jsx:decode(<<"{\"library\": \"jsx\", \"awesome\": true}">>).
[{<<"library">>,<<"jsx">>},{<<"awesome">>,true}]
2> jsx:decode(<<"[\"a\",\"list\",\"of\",\"words\"]">>).
[<<"a">>, <<"list">>, <<"of">>, <<"words">>]

to convert an erlang term into a utf8 binary containing a json string

1> jsx:encode([{<<"library">>,<<"jsx">>},{<<"awesome">>,true}]).
<<"{\"library\": \"jsx\", \"awesome\": true}">>
2> jsx:encode([<<"a">>, <<"list">>, <<"of">>, <<"words">>]).
<<"[\"a\",\"list\",\"of\",\"words\"]">>

to check if a binary or a term is valid json

1> jsx:is_json(<<"[\"this is json\"]">>).
true
2> jsx:is_json("[\"this is not\"]").
false
3> jsx:is_term([<<"this is a term">>]).
true
4> jsx:is_term(["this is not"]).
false

to minify some json

1> jsx:minify(<<"{
  \"a list\": [
    1,
    2,
    3
  ]
}">>).
<<"{\"a list\":[1,2,3]}">>

to prettify some json

1> jsx:prettify(<<"{\"a list\":[1,2,3]}">>).
<<"{
  \"a list\": [
    1,
    2,
    3
  ]
}">>

description

jsx is an erlang application for consuming, producing and manipulating json

json has a spec but common usage differs subtly. it's common usage jsx attempts to address, with guidance from the spec

all json produced and consumed by jsx should be utf8 encoded text or a reasonable approximation thereof. ascii works too, but anything beyond that i'm not going to make any promises. especially not latin1

the spec thinks json values must be wrapped in a json array or object but everyone else disagrees so jsx allows naked json values by default. if you're a curmudgeon who's offended by this deviation here is a wrapper for you:

%% usage: `real_json(jsx:decode(JSON))`
real_json(Result) when is_list(Result) -> Result;
real_json(Result) when is_tuple(Result, 2) -> Result;
real_json(_) -> erlang:error(badarg).

here is a table of how various json values map to erlang:

json <-> erlang mapping

json erlang
number integer() and float()
string binary()
true, false and null true, false and null
array [] and [JSON]
object [{}] and [{binary() OR atom(), JSON}]
  • numbers

    javascript and thus json represent all numeric values with floats. as this is woefully insufficient for many uses, jsx, just like erlang, supports bigints. whenever possible, this library will interpret json numbers that look like integers as integers. other numbers will be converted to erlang's floating point type, which is nearly but not quite iee754. negative zero is not representable in erlang (zero is unsigned in erlang and 0 is equivalent to -0) and will be interpreted as regular zero. numbers not representable are beyond the concern of this implementation, and will result in parsing errors

    when converting from erlang to json, numbers are represented with their shortest representation that will round trip without loss of precision. this means that some floats may be superficially dissimilar (although functionally equivalent). for example, 1.0000000000000001 will be represented by 1.0

  • strings

    the json spec is frustratingly vague on the exact details of json strings. json must be unicode, but no encoding is specified. javascript explicitly allows strings containing codepoints explicitly disallowed by unicode. json allows implementations to set limits on the content of strings. other implementations attempt to resolve this in various ways. this implementation, in default operation, only accepts strings that meet the constraints set out in the json spec (strings are sequences of unicode codepoints deliminated by " (u+0022) that may not contain control codes unless properly escaped with \ (u+005c)) and that are encoded in utf8

    the utf8 restriction means improperly paired surrogates are explicitly disallowed. u+d800 to u+dfff are allowed, but only when they form valid surrogate pairs. surrogates encountered otherwise result in errors

    json string escapes of the form \uXXXX will be converted to their equivalent codepoints during parsing. this means control characters and other codepoints disallowed by the json spec may be encountered in resulting strings, but codepoints disallowed by the unicode spec will not be. in the interest of pragmatism there is an option for looser parsing

    all erlang strings are represented by valid utf8 encoded binaries. the encoder will check strings for conformance. noncharacters (like u+ffff) are allowed in erlang utf8 encoded binaries, but not in strings passed to the encoder (although, again, see options)

    this implementation performs no normalization on strings beyond that detailed here. be careful when comparing strings as equivalent strings may have different utf8 encodings

  • true, false and null

    the json primitives true, false and null are represented by the erlang atoms true, false and null. surprise

  • arrays

    json arrays are represented with erlang lists of json values as described in this section

  • objects

    json objects are represented by erlang proplists. the empty object has the special representation [{}] to differentiate it from the empty list. ambiguities like [true, false] prevent the use of the shorthand form of property lists using atoms as properties so all properties must be tuples. all keys must be encoded as in string or as atoms (which will be escaped and converted to binaries for presentation to handlers). values should be valid json values

incomplete input

jsx handles incomplete json texts. if a partial json text is parsed, rather than returning a term from your callback handler, jsx returns {incomplete, F} where F is a function with an identical API to the anonymous fun returned from decoder/3, encoder/3 or parser/3. it retains the internal state of the parser at the point where input was exhausted. this allows you to parse as you stream json over a socket or file descriptor, or to parse large json texts without needing to keep them entirely in memory

however, it is important to recognize that jsx is greedy by default. jsx will consider the parsing complete if input is exhausted and the json text is not unambiguously incomplete. this is mostly relevant when parsing bare numbers like <<"1234">>. this could be a complete json integer or just the beginning of a json integer that is being parsed incrementally. jsx will treat it as a whole integer. calling jsx with the option explicit_end reverses this behavior and never considers parsing complete until the incomplete function is called with the argument end_stream

data types

json_term()

json_term() = [json_term()]
    | [{binary() | atom(), json_term()}]
    | true
    | false
    | null
    | integer()
    | float()
    | binary()

the erlang representation of json. binaries should be utf8 encoded, or close at least

json_text()

json_text() = binary()

a utf8 encoded binary containing a json string

event()

event() = start_object
    | end_object
    | start_array
    | end_array
    | {key, binary()}
    | {string, binary()}
    | {integer, integer()}
    | {float, float()}
    | {literal, true}
    | {literal, false}
    | {literal, null}
    | end_json

token()

token() = event()
    | binary()
    | {number, integer() | float()}
    | integer()
    | float()
    | true
    | false
    | null

the representation used during syntactic analysis. you can generate this yourself and feed it to jsx:parser/3 if you'd like to define your own representations

option()

option() = replaced_bad_utf8
    | escaped_forward_slashes
    | single_quoted_strings
    | unescaped_jsonp
    | comments
    | escaped_strings
    | dirty_strings
    | ignored_bad_escapes
    | relax
    | explicit_end

jsx functions all take a common set of options. not all flags have meaning in all contexts, but they are always valid options. functions may have additional options beyond these. see individual function documentation for details

  • replaced_bad_utf8

    json text input and json strings SHOULD be utf8 encoded binaries, appropriately escaped as per the json spec. attempts are made to replace invalid codepoints with u+FFFD as per the unicode spec when this option is present. this applies both to malformed unicode and disallowed codepoints

  • escaped_forward_slashes

    json strings are escaped according to the json spec. this means forward slashes (solidus) are only escaped when this flag is present. otherwise they are left unescaped. you may want to use this if you are embedding json directly into a html or xml document

  • single_quoted_strings

    some parsers allow double quotes (u+0022) to be replaced by single quotes (u+0027) to delimit keys and strings. this option allows json containing single quotes as structural characters to be parsed without errors. note that the parser expects strings to be terminated by the same quote type that opened it and that single quotes must, obviously, be escaped within strings delimited by single quotes

    double quotes must always be escaped, regardless of what kind of quotes delimit the string they are found in

    the parser will never emit json with keys or strings delimited by single quotes

  • unescaped_jsonp

    javascript interpreters treat the codepoints u+2028 and u+2029 as significant whitespace. json strings that contain either of these codepoints will be parsed incorrectly by some javascript interpreters. by default, these codepoints are escaped (to \u2028 and \u2029, respectively) to retain compatibility. this option simply removes that escaping

  • comments

    json has no official comments but some parsers allow c/c++ style comments. anywhere whitespace is allowed this flag allows comments (both // ... and /* ... */)

  • escaped_strings

    by default both the encoder and decoder return strings as utf8 binaries appropriate for use in erlang. escape sequences that were present in decoded terms are converted into the appropriate codepoint while encoded terms are unaltered. this flag escapes strings as if for output in json, removing control codes and problematic codepoints and replacing them with the appropriate escapes

  • ignored_bad_escapes

    during decoding ignore unrecognized escape sequences and leave them as is in the stream. note that combining this option with escaped_strings will result in the escape character itself being escaped

  • dirty_strings

    json escaping is lossy; it mutates the json string and repeated application can result in unwanted behaviour. if your strings are already escaped (or you'd like to force invalid strings into "json" you monster) use this flag to bypass escaping. this can also be used to read in really invalid json strings. everything but escaped quotes are passed as is to the resulting string term. note that this overrides ignored_bad_escapes, unescaped_jsonp and escaped_strings

  • explicit_end

    see incomplete input

  • relax

    relax is a synonym for [replaced_bad_utf8, single_quoted_strings, comments, ignored_bad_escapes] for when you don't care how absolutely terrible your json input is, you just want the parser to do the best it can

  • incomplete_handler & error_handler

    the default incomplete and error handlers can be replaced with user defined handlers. if options include {error_handler, F} and/or {incomplete_handler, F} where F is a function of arity 3 they will be called instead of the default handler. the spec for F is as follows

    F(Remaining, InternalState, Config) -> any()
    
      Remaining = binary() | term()
      InternalState = opaque()
      Config = list()
    

    Remaining is the binary fragment or term that caused the error

    InternalState is an opaque structure containing the internal state of the parser/decoder/encoder

    Config is a list of options/flags in use by the parser/decoder/encoder

    these functions should be considered experimental for now

exports

encoder/3, decoder/3 & parser/3

decoder(Module, Args, Opts) -> Fun((JSONText) -> any())
encoder(Module, Args, Opts) -> Fun((JSONTerm) -> any())
parser(Module, Args, Opts) -> Fun((Tokens) -> any())

  Module = atom()
  Args = any()
  Opts = [option()]
  JSONText = json_text()
  JSONTerm = json_term()
  Tokens = token() | [token()]

jsx is a json compiler with interleaved tokenizing, syntactic analysis and semantic analysis stages. included are two tokenizers; one that handles json texts (decoder/3) and one that handles erlang terms (encoder/3). there is also an entry point to the syntactic analysis stage for use with user-defined tokenizers (parser/3)

all three functions return an anonymous function that takes the appropriate type of input and returns the result of performing semantic analysis, the tuple {incomplete, F} where F is a new anonymous function (see incomplete input) or a badarg error exception if syntactic analysis fails

Module is the name of the callback module

Args is any term that will be passed to Module:init/1 prior to syntactic analysis to produce an initial state

Opts are detailed here

check out callback module documentation for details of the callback module interface

decode/1,2

decode(JSON) -> Term
decode(JSON, Opts) -> Term

  JSON = json_text()
  Term = json_term()
  Opts = [option() | labels | {labels, Label} | {post_decode, F}]
    Label = binary | atom | existing_atom
    F = fun((any()) -> any())

decode parses a json text (a utf8 encoded binary) and produces an erlang term

the option labels controls how keys are converted from json to erlang terms. binary does no conversion beyond normal escaping. atom converts keys to erlang atoms and results in a badarg error if the keys fall outside the range of erlang atoms. existing_atom is identical to atom except it will not add new atoms to the atom table

{post_decode, F} is a user defined function of arity 1 that is called on each output value (objects, arrays, strings, numbers and literals). it may return any value to be substituted in the returned term. for example:

1> F = fun(V) when is_list(V) -> V; (V) -> false end.
2> jsx:decode(<<"{\"a list\": [true, \"a string\", 1]}">>, [{post_decode, F}]).
[{<<"a list">>, [false, false, false]}]

declaring more than one post-decoder will result in a badarg error exception

raises a badarg error exception if input is not valid json

encode/1,2

encode(Term) -> JSON
encode(Term, Opts) -> JSON

  Term = json_term()
  JSON = json_text()
  Opts = [option() | {pre_encode, F} | space | {space, N} | indent | {indent, N}]
    F = fun((any()) -> any())
    N = pos_integer()

encode converts an erlang term into json text (a utf8 encoded binary)

the option {space, N} inserts N spaces after every comma and colon in your json output. space is an alias for {space, 1}. the default is {space, 0}

the option {indent, N} inserts a newline and N spaces for each level of indentation in your json output. note that this overrides spaces inserted after a comma. indent is an alias for {indent, 1}. the default is {indent, 0}

{pre_encode, F} is a user defined function of arity 1 that is called on each input value. it may return any valid json value to be substituted in the returned json. for example:

1> F = fun(V) when is_list(V) -> V; (V) -> false end.
2> jsx:encode([{<<"a list">>, [true, <<"a string">>, 1]}], [{pre_encode, F}]).
<<"{\"a list\": [false, false, false]}">>

declaring more than one pre-encoder will result in a badarg error exception

raises a badarg error exception if input is not a valid erlang representation of json

format/1,2

format(JSON) -> JSON
format(JSON, Opts) -> JSON

  JSON = json_text()
  Opts = [option() | space | {space, N} | indent | {indent, N}]
    N = pos_integer()

format parses a json text (a utf8 encoded binary) and produces a new json text according to the format rules specified by Opts

the option {space, N} inserts N spaces after every comma and colon in your json output. space is an alias for {space, 1}. the default is {space, 0}

the option {indent, N} inserts a newline and N spaces for each level of indentation in your json output. note that this overrides spaces inserted after a comma. indent is an alias for {indent, 1}. the default is {indent, 0}

raises a badarg error exception if input is not valid json

minify/1

minify(JSON) -> JSON

  JSON = json_text()

minify parses a json text (a utf8 encoded binary) and produces a new json text stripped of whitespace

raises a badarg error exception if input is not valid json

prettify/1

prettify(JSON) -> JSON

  JSON = json_text()

prettify parses a json text (a utf8 encoded binary) and produces a new json text equivalent to format(JSON, [{space, 1}, {indent, 2}])

raises a badarg error exception if input is not valid json

is_json/1,2

is_json(MaybeJSON) -> true | false
is_json(MaybeJSON, Opts) -> true | false

  MaybeJSON = any()
  Opts = options()

returns true if input is a valid json text, false if not

what exactly constitutes valid json may be altered

is_term/1,2

is_term(MaybeJSON) -> true | false
is_term(MaybeJSON, Opts) -> true | false

  MaybeJSON = any()
  Opts = options()

returns true if input is a valid erlang representation of json, false if not

what exactly constitutes valid json may be altered via options

callback exports

the following functions should be exported from a jsx callback module

Module:init/1

Module:init(Args) -> InitialState

  Args = any()
  InitialState = any()

whenever any of encoder/3, decoder/3 or parser/3 are called, this function is called with the Args argument provided in the calling function to obtain InitialState

Module:handle_event/2

Module:handle_event(Event, State) -> NewState

  Event = [event()]
  State = any()
  NewState = any()

semantic analysis is performed by repeatedly calling handle_event/2 with a stream of events emitted by the tokenizer and the current state. the new state returned is used as the input to the next call to handle_event/2. the following events must be handled:

  • start_object

    the start of a json object

  • end_object

    the end of a json object

  • start_array

    the start of a json array

  • end_array

    the end of a json array

  • {key, binary()}

    a key in a json object. this is guaranteed to follow either start_object or a json value. it will usually be a utf8 encoded binary. see the options for possible exceptions

  • {string, binary()}

    a json string. it will usually be a utf8 encoded binary. see the options for possible exceptions

  • {integer, integer()}

    an erlang integer (bignum)

  • {float, float()}

    an erlang float

  • {literal, true}

    the atom true

  • {literal, false}

    the atom false

  • {literal, null}

    the atom null

  • end_json

    this event is emitted when syntactic analysis is completed. you should do any cleanup and return the result of your semantic analysis

acknowledgements

jsx wouldn't be what it is without the contributions of paul davis, lloyd hilaiel, john engelhart, bob ippolito, fernando benavides, alex kropivny, steve strong, michael truog, dmitry kolesnikov and emptytea

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