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Setting up JSON data

From: Working with Data on the Web

Video: Setting up JSON data

As powerful as XML is, some developers find it to be a tad on the verbose side for their purposes and have come to regard JSON as a viable alternative. In this lesson, I'll give you an overview of JSON, its background, basic syntax, and ways it can be used. JSON is short for JavaScript Object Notation. It was originally created by Douglas Crockford in 2001 for a company called State Software. It grew in popularity continuously and Mr Crockford released a full specification in 2006.

Setting up JSON data

As powerful as XML is, some developers find it to be a tad on the verbose side for their purposes and have come to regard JSON as a viable alternative. In this lesson, I'll give you an overview of JSON, its background, basic syntax, and ways it can be used. JSON is short for JavaScript Object Notation. It was originally created by Douglas Crockford in 2001 for a company called State Software. It grew in popularity continuously and Mr Crockford released a full specification in 2006.

As the name implies, JSON uses JavaScript syntax, however it's truly platform and language independent. JSON employs a highly readable text-based code as the basis for its objects, as you can see by the code here, which describes a user object with the first and last name for three users. As you could tell from that code, data is expressed in simple name/value pairs. Multiple name/value pairs can be separated by commas and enclosed by curly braces.

These are referred to as JSON objects. Square brackets define arrays which can also be JSON objects. While names are always strings, values can be six different data types. Strings, which must be contained in double quotes. Numbers, which can be either integers or floating point values. JSON values can also be true false Booleans or arrays of elements. Finally, values can be other JSON objects or nothing at all.

Null, in other words. In order to work with JSON data, it must be parsed in some way. You can use the general JavaScript function eval to convert the JSON object to a JavaScript object which can then be read using standard JavaScript syntax. However, because eval is not very discriminating, there's a security issue. It's better to use a dedicated parsing function like JSON.parse. You can also go the other way, converting a JavaScript object to a JSON object by using another function JSON.stringify.

One of the real advantages of JSON is its relative simplicity. It's much lighter syntactically than XML and because of that, typically faster to parse. Because of its tight integration with JavaScript, JSON is frequently used with AJAX for asynchronous data loading JSON is supported by all major current browsers as well as the mass majority of JavaScript frameworks. You'll also find that most modern server languages also support JSON as well. You can find a full listing on JSON's home on the web at json.org.

So that's the low down on JSON. Ready to put it to work? Let's get right to that in the next lesson.

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Working with Data on the Web

25 video lessons · 10209 viewers

Joseph Lowery
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