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    JSON::XS - JSON serialising/deserialising, done correctly and fast

     use JSON::XS;

     # exported functions, croak on error

     $utf8_encoded_json_text = to_json $perl_hash_or_arrayref;
     $perl_hash_or_arrayref  = from_json $utf8_encoded_json_text;

     # oo-interface

     $coder = JSON::XS->new->ascii->pretty->allow_nonref;
     $pretty_printed_unencoded = $coder->encode ($perl_scalar);
     $perl_scalar = $coder->decode ($unicode_json_text);

    This module converts Perl data structures to JSON and vice versa. Its
    primary goal is to be *correct* and its secondary goal is to be *fast*.
    To reach the latter goal it was written in C.

    As this is the n-th-something JSON module on CPAN, what was the reason
    to write yet another JSON module? While it seems there are many JSON
    modules, none of them correctly handle all corner cases, and in most
    cases their maintainers are unresponsive, gone missing, or not listening
    to bug reports for other reasons.

    See COMPARISON, below, for a comparison to some other JSON modules.

    See MAPPING, below, on how JSON::XS maps perl values to JSON values and
    vice versa.

    * correct handling of unicode issues
        This module knows how to handle Unicode, and even documents how and
        when it does so.

    * round-trip integrity
        When you serialise a perl data structure using only datatypes
        supported by JSON, the deserialised data structure is identical on
        the Perl level. (e.g. the string "2.0" doesn't suddenly become "2").

    * strict checking of JSON correctness
        There is no guessing, no generating of illegal JSON texts by
        default, and only JSON is accepted as input by default (the latter
        is a security feature).

    * fast
        Compared to other JSON modules, this module compares favourably in
        terms of speed, too.

    * simple to use
        This module has both a simple functional interface as well as an OO

    * reasonably versatile output formats
        You can choose between the most compact guarenteed single-line
        format possible (nice for simple line-based protocols), a pure-ascii
        format (for when your transport is not 8-bit clean), or a
        pretty-printed format (for when you want to read that stuff). Or you
        can combine those features in whatever way you like.

    The following convinience methods are provided by this module. They are
    exported by default:

    $json_text = to_json $perl_scalar
        Converts the given Perl data structure (a simple scalar or a
        reference to a hash or array) to a UTF-8 encoded, binary string
        (that is, the string contains octets only). Croaks on error.

        This function call is functionally identical to:

           $json_text = JSON::XS->new->utf8->encode ($perl_scalar)

        except being faster.

    $perl_scalar = from_json $json_text
        The opposite of "to_json": expects an UTF-8 (binary) string and
        tries to parse that as an UTF-8 encoded JSON text, returning the
        resulting simple scalar or reference. Croaks on error.

        This function call is functionally identical to:

           $perl_scalar = JSON::XS->new->utf8->decode ($json_text)

        except being faster.

    The object oriented interface lets you configure your own encoding or
    decoding style, within the limits of supported formats.

    $json = new JSON::XS
        Creates a new JSON::XS object that can be used to de/encode JSON
        strings. All boolean flags described below are by default

        The mutators for flags all return the JSON object again and thus
        calls can be chained:

           my $json = JSON::XS->new->utf8->space_after->encode ({a => [1,2]})
           => {"a": [1, 2]}

    $json = $json->ascii ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will not
        generate characters outside the code range 0..127 (which is ASCII).
        Any unicode characters outside that range will be escaped using
        either a single \uXXXX (BMP characters) or a double \uHHHH\uLLLLL
        escape sequence, as per RFC4627.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will not escape
        Unicode characters unless required by the JSON syntax. This results
        in a faster and more compact format.

          JSON::XS->new->ascii (1)->encode ([chr 0x10401])
          => ["\ud801\udc01"]

    $json = $json->utf8 ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will
        encode the JSON result into UTF-8, as required by many protocols,
        while the "decode" method expects to be handled an UTF-8-encoded
        string. Please note that UTF-8-encoded strings do not contain any
        characters outside the range 0..255, they are thus useful for
        bytewise/binary I/O. In future versions, enabling this option might
        enable autodetection of the UTF-16 and UTF-32 encoding families, as
        described in RFC4627.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will return the JSON
        string as a (non-encoded) unicode string, while "decode" expects
        thus a unicode string. Any decoding or encoding (e.g. to UTF-8 or
        UTF-16) needs to be done yourself, e.g. using the Encode module.

        Example, output UTF-16BE-encoded JSON:

          use Encode;
          $jsontext = encode "UTF-16BE", JSON::XS->new->encode ($object);

        Example, decode UTF-32LE-encoded JSON:

          use Encode;
          $object = JSON::XS->new->decode (decode "UTF-32LE", $jsontext);

    $json = $json->pretty ([$enable])
        This enables (or disables) all of the "indent", "space_before" and
        "space_after" (and in the future possibly more) flags in one call to
        generate the most readable (or most compact) form possible.

        Example, pretty-print some simple structure:

           my $json = JSON::XS->new->pretty(1)->encode ({a => [1,2]})
              "a" : [

    $json = $json->indent ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will use a
        multiline format as output, putting every array member or
        object/hash key-value pair into its own line, identing them

        If $enable is false, no newlines or indenting will be produced, and
        the resulting JSON text is guarenteed not to contain any "newlines".

        This setting has no effect when decoding JSON texts.

    $json = $json->space_before ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will add
        an extra optional space before the ":" separating keys from values
        in JSON objects.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will not add any extra
        space at those places.

        This setting has no effect when decoding JSON texts. You will also
        most likely combine this setting with "space_after".

        Example, space_before enabled, space_after and indent disabled:

           {"key" :"value"}

    $json = $json->space_after ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will add
        an extra optional space after the ":" separating keys from values in
        JSON objects and extra whitespace after the "," separating key-value
        pairs and array members.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will not add any extra
        space at those places.

        This setting has no effect when decoding JSON texts.

        Example, space_before and indent disabled, space_after enabled:

           {"key": "value"}

    $json = $json->canonical ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method will
        output JSON objects by sorting their keys. This is adding a
        comparatively high overhead.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will output key-value
        pairs in the order Perl stores them (which will likely change
        between runs of the same script).

        This option is useful if you want the same data structure to be
        encoded as the same JSON text (given the same overall settings). If
        it is disabled, the same hash migh be encoded differently even if
        contains the same data, as key-value pairs have no inherent ordering
        in Perl.

        This setting has no effect when decoding JSON texts.

    $json = $json->allow_nonref ([$enable])
        If $enable is true (or missing), then the "encode" method can
        convert a non-reference into its corresponding string, number or
        null JSON value, which is an extension to RFC4627. Likewise,
        "decode" will accept those JSON values instead of croaking.

        If $enable is false, then the "encode" method will croak if it isn't
        passed an arrayref or hashref, as JSON texts must either be an
        object or array. Likewise, "decode" will croak if given something
        that is not a JSON object or array.

        Example, encode a Perl scalar as JSON value with enabled
        "allow_nonref", resulting in an invalid JSON text:

           JSON::XS->new->allow_nonref->encode ("Hello, World!")
           => "Hello, World!"

    $json = $json->shrink ([$enable])
        Perl usually over-allocates memory a bit when allocating space for
        strings. This flag optionally resizes strings generated by either
        "encode" or "decode" to their minimum size possible. This can save
        memory when your JSON texts are either very very long or you have
        many short strings. It will also try to downgrade any strings to
        octet-form if possible: perl stores strings internally either in an
        encoding called UTF-X or in octet-form. The latter cannot store
        everything but uses less space in general.

        If $enable is true (or missing), the string returned by "encode"
        will be shrunk-to-fit, while all strings generated by "decode" will
        also be shrunk-to-fit.

        If $enable is false, then the normal perl allocation algorithms are
        used. If you work with your data, then this is likely to be faster.

        In the future, this setting might control other things, such as
        converting strings that look like integers or floats into integers
        or floats internally (there is no difference on the Perl level),
        saving space.

    $json_text = $json->encode ($perl_scalar)
        Converts the given Perl data structure (a simple scalar or a
        reference to a hash or array) to its JSON representation. Simple
        scalars will be converted into JSON string or number sequences,
        while references to arrays become JSON arrays and references to
        hashes become JSON objects. Undefined Perl values (e.g. "undef")
        become JSON "null" values. Neither "true" nor "false" values will be

    $perl_scalar = $json->decode ($json_text)
        The opposite of "encode": expects a JSON text and tries to parse it,
        returning the resulting simple scalar or reference. Croaks on error.

        JSON numbers and strings become simple Perl scalars. JSON arrays
        become Perl arrayrefs and JSON objects become Perl hashrefs. "true"
        becomes 1, "false" becomes 0 and "null" becomes "undef".

    This section describes how JSON::XS maps Perl values to JSON values and
    vice versa. These mappings are designed to "do the right thing" in most
    circumstances automatically, preserving round-tripping characteristics
    (what you put in comes out as something equivalent).

    For the more enlightened: note that in the following descriptions,
    lowercase *perl* refers to the Perl interpreter, while uppcercase *Perl*
    refers to the abstract Perl language itself.

        A JSON object becomes a reference to a hash in Perl. No ordering of
        object keys is preserved (JSON does not preserver object key
        ordering itself).

        A JSON array becomes a reference to an array in Perl.

        A JSON string becomes a string scalar in Perl - Unicode codepoints
        in JSON are represented by the same codepoints in the Perl string,
        so no manual decoding is necessary.

        A JSON number becomes either an integer or numeric (floating point)
        scalar in perl, depending on its range and any fractional parts. On
        the Perl level, there is no difference between those as Perl handles
        all the conversion details, but an integer may take slightly less
        memory and might represent more values exactly than (floating point)

    true, false
        These JSON atoms become 0, 1, respectively. Information is lost in
        this process. Future versions might represent those values
        differently, but they will be guarenteed to act like these integers
        would normally in Perl.

        A JSON null atom becomes "undef" in Perl.

    The mapping from Perl to JSON is slightly more difficult, as Perl is a
    truly typeless language, so we can only guess which JSON type is meant
    by a Perl value.

    hash references
        Perl hash references become JSON objects. As there is no inherent
        ordering in hash keys, they will usually be encoded in a
        pseudo-random order that can change between runs of the same program
        but stays generally the same within a single run of a program.
        JSON::XS can optionally sort the hash keys (determined by the
        *canonical* flag), so the same datastructure will serialise to the
        same JSON text (given same settings and version of JSON::XS), but
        this incurs a runtime overhead.

    array references
        Perl array references become JSON arrays.

    blessed objects
        Blessed objects are not allowed. JSON::XS currently tries to encode
        their underlying representation (hash- or arrayref), but this
        behaviour might change in future versions.

    simple scalars
        Simple Perl scalars (any scalar that is not a reference) are the
        most difficult objects to encode: JSON::XS will encode undefined
        scalars as JSON null value, scalars that have last been used in a
        string context before encoding as JSON strings and anything else as
        number value:

           # dump as number
           to_json [2]                      # yields [2]
           to_json [-3.0e17]                # yields [-3e+17]
           my $value = 5; to_json [$value]  # yields [5]

           # used as string, so dump as string
           print $value;
           to_json [$value]                 # yields ["5"]

           # undef becomes null
           to_json [undef]                  # yields [null]

        You can force the type to be a string by stringifying it:

           my $x = 3.1; # some variable containing a number
           "$x";        # stringified
           $x .= "";    # another, more awkward way to stringify
           print $x;    # perl does it for you, too, quite often

        You can force the type to be a number by numifying it:

           my $x = "3"; # some variable containing a string
           $x += 0;     # numify it, ensuring it will be dumped as a number
           $x *= 1;     # same thing, the choise is yours.

        You can not currently output JSON booleans or force the type in
        other, less obscure, ways. Tell me if you need this capability.

    circular data structures
        Those will be encoded until memory or stackspace runs out.

    As already mentioned, this module was created because none of the
    existing JSON modules could be made to work correctly. First I will
    describe the problems (or pleasures) I encountered with various existing
    JSON modules, followed by some benchmark values. JSON::XS was designed
    not to suffer from any of these problems or limitations.

    JSON 1.07
        Slow (but very portable, as it is written in pure Perl).

        Undocumented/buggy Unicode handling (how JSON handles unicode values
        is undocumented. One can get far by feeding it unicode strings and
        doing en-/decoding oneself, but unicode escapes are not working

        No roundtripping (strings get clobbered if they look like numbers,
        e.g. the string 2.0 will encode to 2.0 instead of "2.0", and that
        will decode into the number 2.

    JSON::PC 0.01
        Very fast.

        Undocumented/buggy Unicode handling.

        No roundtripping.

        Has problems handling many Perl values (e.g. regex results and other
        magic values will make it croak).

        Does not even generate valid JSON ("{1,2}" gets converted to "{1:2}"
        which is not a valid JSON text.

        Unmaintained (maintainer unresponsive for many months, bugs are not
        getting fixed).

    JSON::Syck 0.21
        Very buggy (often crashes).

        Very inflexible (no human-readable format supported, format pretty
        much undocumented. I need at least a format for easy reading by
        humans and a single-line compact format for use in a protocol, and
        preferably a way to generate ASCII-only JSON texts).

        Completely broken (and confusingly documented) Unicode handling
        (unicode escapes are not working properly, you need to set
        ImplicitUnicode to *different* values on en- and decoding to get
        symmetric behaviour).

        No roundtripping (simple cases work, but this depends on wether the
        scalar value was used in a numeric context or not).

        Dumping hashes may skip hash values depending on iterator state.

        Unmaintained (maintainer unresponsive for many months, bugs are not
        getting fixed).

        Does not check input for validity (i.e. will accept non-JSON input
        and return "something" instead of raising an exception. This is a
        security issue: imagine two banks transfering money between each
        other using JSON. One bank might parse a given non-JSON request and
        deduct money, while the other might reject the transaction with a
        syntax error. While a good protocol will at least recover, that is
        extra unnecessary work and the transaction will still not succeed).

    JSON::DWIW 0.04
        Very fast. Very natural. Very nice.

        Undocumented unicode handling (but the best of the pack. Unicode
        escapes still don't get parsed properly).

        Very inflexible.

        No roundtripping.

        Does not generate valid JSON texts (key strings are often unquoted,
        empty keys result in nothing being output)

        Does not check input for validity.

    It seems that JSON::XS is surprisingly fast, as shown in the following
    tables. They have been generated with the help of the "eg/bench" program
    in the JSON::XS distribution, to make it easy to compare on your own

    First comes a comparison between various modules using a very short JSON

       {"method": "handleMessage", "params": ["user1", "we were just talking"], "id": null}

    It shows the number of encodes/decodes per second (JSON::XS uses the
    functional interface, while JSON::XS/2 uses the OO interface with
    pretty-printing and hashkey sorting enabled). Higher is better:

       module     |     encode |     decode |
       JSON       |  11488.516 |   7823.035 |
       JSON::DWIW |  94708.054 | 129094.260 |
       JSON::PC   |  63884.157 | 128528.212 |
       JSON::Syck |  34898.677 |  42096.911 |
       JSON::XS   | 654027.064 | 396423.669 |
       JSON::XS/2 | 371564.190 | 371725.613 |

    That is, JSON::XS is more than six times faster than JSON::DWIW on
    encoding, more than three times faster on decoding, and about thirty
    times faster than JSON, even with pretty-printing and key sorting.

    Using a longer test string (roughly 18KB, generated from Yahoo! Locals
    search API (

       module     |     encode |     decode |
       JSON       |    273.023 |     44.674 |
       JSON::DWIW |   1089.383 |   1145.704 |
       JSON::PC   |   3097.419 |   2393.921 |
       JSON::Syck |    514.060 |    843.053 |
       JSON::XS   |   6479.668 |   3636.364 |
       JSON::XS/2 |   3774.221 |   3599.124 |

    Again, JSON::XS leads by far.

    On large strings containing lots of high unicode characters, some
    modules (such as JSON::PC) seem to decode faster than JSON::XS, but the
    result will be broken due to missing (or wrong) unicode handling. Others
    refuse to decode or encode properly, so it was impossible to prepare a
    fair comparison table for that case.

    JSON::XS does not impose any limits on the size of JSON texts or Perl
    values they represent - if your machine can handle it, JSON::XS will
    encode or decode it. Future versions might optionally impose structure
    depth and memory use resource limits.

    While the goal of this module is to be correct, that unfortunately does
    not mean its bug-free, only that I think its design is bug-free. It is
    still very young and not well-tested. If you keep reporting bugs they
    will be fixed swiftly, though.

     Marc Lehmann <>

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