JSON-like serialization that allows circular or multiple references, and typing.
Common Lisp
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A JSON-like language that can encode circular references and more!

RJSON is a Javascript-evaluable data interchange format, like JSON, that supports features that make it capable of encoding sophisticated object graphs with ease.


JSON is a fantastic, simple data interchange format that has become the de facto encoding for AJAX, and the preferred format for http APIs in many circles. Unfortunately it does not provide a means of encoding object graphs with circular reference without further processing of the transmitted RJSON. We sought to include a few common features that often must be reinvented when performing complex tasks with JSON:

  • Referring to an object that occurs multiple times with a simple reference
  • Handling the tricky case of circular reference
  • Including type information for each object.

This library provides a Javascript (Parenscript) decoder and a Common Lisp encoder.


Encoding a simple list

To encode some object into rjson, use RJSON:ENCODE-RJSON or RJSON:ENCODE-RJSON-TO-STRING:

> (rjson:encode-rjson (list 1 "two" "three") t)


The RJSON message here is purely a JSON object with some header information. The result of decoding this message is the value of "content."

Encoding a list with multiple references to the same object

Where RJSON shines is the ability to encode multiple references to the same object. This happens transparently for objects where EQL is a valid comparison.

> (let ((x (list 1 2 3 4)))                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    (rjson:encode-rjson (list x x) t))


This is illustrative of the abilities of RJSON to handle multiple copies of an object, and also for how RJSON handles types.

  • The rjalloc function call establishes an object of type "json:array" that can be referenced with the id 1
  • The rjinit function call initializes the value of the object at id 1 by passing the argument [1,2,3,4] to the registered initialization function for "json:array"
  • The rjref returns the value for the object with id 1

Notably, the order of evaluation of the header, allocs, inits, and content is significant, and the RJSON encoder makes sure to order them properly.

Decoding an RJSON with Parenscript

RJSON is commonly transmitted from server to client, and for that purpose we provide a Parenscript and Javascript library for decoding an RJSON string to a Javascript object.

The RJSON decoder is mostly a definition for the functions rjinit, rjalloc, rjconstruct, and rjref, and a call to Javascript's eval function. By relying on eval, RJSON's parser is exceptionally fast.

In any case, decoding an RJSON string in Parenscript is as simple as calling rjson-decode:

(rjson:decode-rjson rjson-string)
[[1,2,3,4], [1,2,3,4]]