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Convert JSON to a UNIX-friendly line-based format.

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README.rst

jsonpipe

Everyone I know prefers to work with JSON over XML, but sadly there is a sore lack of utilities of the quality or depth of html-xml-utils and XMLStarlet for actually processing JSON data in an automated fashion, short of writing an ad hoc processor in your favourite programming language.

jsonpipe is a step towards a solution: it traverses a JSON object and produces a simple, line-based textual format which can be processed by all your UNIX favourites like grep, sed, awk, cut and diff. It may also be valuable within programming languages---in fact, it was originally conceived as a way of writing simple test assertions against JSON output without coupling the tests too closely to the specific structure used.

This implementation (which should be considered the reference) is written in Python.

Example

A <pre> is worth a thousand words. For simple JSON values:

$ echo '"Hello, World!"' | jsonpipe
/   "Hello, World!"
$ echo 123 | jsonpipe
/   123
$ echo 0.25 | jsonpipe
/   0.25
$ echo null | jsonpipe
/   null
$ echo true | jsonpipe
/   true
$ echo false | jsonpipe
/   false

The 'root' of the object tree is represented by a single / character, and for simple values it doesn't get any more complex than the above. Note that a single tab character separates the path on the left from the literal value on the right.

Composite data structures use a hierarchical syntax, where individual keys/indices are children of the path to the containing object:

$ echo '{"a": 1, "b": 2}' | jsonpipe
/   {}
/a  1
/b  2
$ echo '["foo", "bar", "baz"]' | jsonpipe
/   []
/0  "foo"
/1  "bar"
/2  "baz"

For an object or array, the right-hand column indicates the datatype, and will be either {} (object) or [] (array). For objects, the order of the keys is preserved in the output.

The path syntax allows arbitrarily complex data structures:

$ echo '[{"a": [{"b": {"c": ["foo"]}}]}]' | jsonpipe
/   []
/0  {}
/0/a        []
/0/a/0      {}
/0/a/0/b    {}
/0/a/0/b/c  []
/0/a/0/b/c/0        "foo"

Caveat: Path Separators

Because the path components are separated by / characters, an object key like "abc/def" would result in ambiguous output. jsonpipe will throw an error if this occurs in your input, so that you can recognize and handle the issue. To mitigate the problem, you can choose a different path separator:

$ echo '{"abc/def": 123}' | jsonpipe -s '☃'
☃   {}
☃abc/def    123

The Unicode snowman is chosen here because it's unlikely to occur as part of the key in most JSON objects, but any character or string (e.g. :, ::, ~) will do.

jsonunpipe

Another useful part of the library is jsonunpipe, which turns jsonpipe output back into JSON proper:

$ echo '{"a": 1, "b": 2}' | jsonpipe | jsonunpipe
{"a": 1, "b": 2}

jsonunpipe also supports incomplete information (such as you might get from grep), and will assume all previously-undeclared parts of a path to be JSON objects:

$ echo "/a/b/c      123" | jsonunpipe
{"a": {"b": {"c": 123}}}

Python API

Since jsonpipe is written in Python, you can import it and use it without having to spawn another process:

>>> from jsonpipe import jsonpipe
>>> for line in jsonpipe({"a": 1, "b": 2}):
...     print line
/   {}
/a  1
/b  2

Note that the jsonpipe() generator function takes a Python object, not a JSON string, so the order of dictionary keys may be slightly unpredictable in the output. You can use simplejson.OrderedDict to get a fixed ordering:

>>> from simplejson import OrderedDict
>>> obj = OrderedDict([('a', 1), ('b', 2), ('c', 3)])
>>> obj
OrderedDict([('a', 1), ('b', 2), ('c', 3)])
>>> for line in jsonpipe(obj):
...     print line
/   {}
/a  1
/b  2
/c  3

A more general hint: if you need to parse JSON but maintain ordering for object keys, use the object_pairs_hook option on simplejson.load(s):

>>> import simplejson
>>> simplejson.loads('{"a": 1, "b": 2, "c": 3}',
...                  object_pairs_hook=simplejson.OrderedDict)
OrderedDict([('a', 1), ('b', 2), ('c', 3)])

Of course, a Python implementation of jsonunpipe also exists:

>>> from jsonpipe import jsonunpipe
>>> jsonunpipe(['/\t{}', '/a\t123'])
{'a': 123}

You can pass a decoder parameter, as in the following example, where the JSON object returned uses an ordered dictionary:

>>> jsonunpipe(['/\t{}', '/a\t123', '/b\t456'],
...            decoder=simplejson.JSONDecoder(
...                object_pairs_hook=simplejson.OrderedDict))
OrderedDict([('a', 123), ('b', 456)])

Installation

jsonpipe is written in Python, so is best installed using pip:

pip install jsonpipe

Note that it requires Python v2.5 or later (simplejson only supports 2.5+).

(Un)license

This is free and unencumbered software released into the public domain.

Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute this software, either in source code form or as a compiled binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any means.

In jurisdictions that recognize copyright laws, the author or authors of this software dedicate any and all copyright interest in the software to the public domain. We make this dedication for the benefit of the public at large and to the detriment of our heirs and successors. We intend this dedication to be an overt act of relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights to this software under copyright law.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

For more information, please refer to <http://unlicense.org/>

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