The RJson package

[Tags:bsd3, library]

See included README for some examples. This package uses the Scrap Your Boilerplate With Class approach to generics to implement a reflective JSON serializer and deserializer. Nested record types are automatically converted to corresponding JSON objects and vice versa. In both cases, various aspects of serializing and deserializing can be customized by implementing instances of type classes. Note that only Haskell 98 types can be serialized and deserialized, and that the use of strict constructors will lead to runtime errors with the current implemetation. Apart from the reflective stuff, the package also provides a straightforward Haskell representation of JSON data, together with a unicode-safe parser and a suitable implementation of show. The code hasn't yet been tested for performance; it might be quite slow.

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Versions 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.3.1, 0.3.2, 0.3.3, 0.3.4, 0.3.5, 0.3.6, 0.3.7
Dependencies array, base, bytestring, containers, iconv, mtl, parsec, syb-with-class [details]
License BSD3
Author Alex Drummond
Category Text
Uploaded Fri Jul 25 04:20:54 UTC 2008 by AlexDrummond
Distributions NixOS:0.3.7
Downloads 3307 total (15 in the last 30 days)
0 []
Status Docs uploaded by user
Build status unknown [no reports yet]
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Maintainer's Corner

For package maintainers and hackage trustees

Readme for RJson

Readme for RJson-0.3.5

* RJSon 0.3.5                                                          *
* Author: Alex Drummond                                                *
*                                                                      *
* Thanks to Dustin DeWeese for a patch fixing a bug in the parser.     *
* Thanks to Adam Langley for a patch fixing the lack of support for    *
* null JSON values.                                                    *

This is some documentation on how to use the RJson library.  I wrote a
blog post about an older version of the library which may contain some
useful information on using syb-with-class:


Not all features of the library are covered in this document yet.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to check the end of this README, which details a
couple of issues with the library you should be aware of before using


Suppose we have the following datatypes:

    data TestRecord2 = TestRecord2 {
       _c :: Int,
       _d :: String
    } deriving Show

    data TestRecord1 = TestRecord1 {
       _a :: String,
       _b :: TestRecord2
    } deriving Show

In order to use RJson, we first have to derive instances of Data and
Typeable for these types.  The following options/modules are required:

     -XUndecidableInstances #-}
    import Text.RJson
    import Data.Generics.SYB.WithClass.Basics
    import Data.Generics.SYB.WithClass.Derive

The following Template Haskell code can be used to derive the
instances automatically:

    $(derive[''TestRecord1, ''TestRecord2])

Now we can use the 'toJson' function to serialize TestRecord1 and
TestRecord2 structures. For example, the expression

    toJson (TestRecord1 { _a="foo", _b=TestRecord2 { _c=5, _d="bar"}})

will evaluate to the following JsonData object:


You can just pass this object to 'show' to convert it to a string, or
use the 'toJsonString' utility function. The current implementation of
'show' outputs ASCII-only strings, using "\uXXXX" escape sequences for
unicode characters.  Note that the initial underscores have been
stripped from the field names.  This is the default behavior, but we
could override it by adding an instance to the TranslateField class:

    instance TranslateField TestRecord1 where
        translateField _dummy x = x
    instance TranslateField TestRecord2 where
        translateField _dummy x = x

Now if we call 'toJson', the underscores will not be removed:


The 'fromJson' function is used to deserialize a JsonData object.
Usually, it is easier to use 'fromJsonString', which parses a string
to a JsonData object and then passes the result to 'fromJson'. The
following expression will evaluate to Just the same TestRecord1
structure that we passed to 'toJson' earlier:

    fromJsonString (undefined :: TestRecord1)
    --> Right (TestRecord1 { _a="foo", _b=TestRecord2 { _c=5, _d="bar"}})

The first parameter of 'fromJsonString' (and 'fromJson') is a dummy
value specifying the type of the record which is being deserialized.
Note that the preceding instance of TranslateField is in effect here
(the JSON object keys begin with underscores).

The 'fromJsonString' function assumes that the string it is passed is
a true unicode string. For this reason, if you have obtained your JSON
String using the standard Haskell IO libraries, you may not get the
correct behavior with unicode strings (since your String will be a
sequence of bytes rather than code points). It is usually better to
get the raw JSON data into a ByteString and then use
'fromJsonByteString', which automatically detects and decodes unicode

The JsonData type has the following definition:

    data JsonData = JDString String                          |
                    JDNumber Double                          |
                    JDArray [JsonData]                       |
                    JDBool Bool                              |
                    JDObject (Data.Map.Map String JsonData)

You can implement custom serialization and deserialization behavior
by adding instances to the ToJson and FromJson classes respectively.
Suppose that we have the following enum type:

    data Direction = Forward | Back | Left | Right deriving Show

As will be explained shortly, the default serialization behavior is
for the values of this enum to be converted to empty JSON lists, which
is probably not what you want. In order to convert them to and from
the appropriate strings, the following instance definitions can be

    instance ToJson Direction where
        toJson North   = JDString "north"
        toJson South   = JDString "south"
        toJson East    = JDString "east"
        toJson West    = JDString "west"
    instance FromJson Direction where
        fromJson _dummy (JDString "north")  = Right North
        fromJson _dummy (JDString "south")  = Right South
        fromJson _dummy (JDString "east")   = Right East
        fromJson _dummy (JDString "west")   = Right West
        fromJson _dummy _                   = Left "Deserialization error for 'Direction'"

In fact, RJson provides 'enumToJson' and 'enumFromJson' functions
which automate the definition of instances of this sort. The preceding
instance definitions could equivalently be written as follows:

    instance ToJson Direction where
        toJson = enumToJson firstCharToLower
    instance FromJson Direction where
        fromJson = enumFromJson firstCharToUpper

The first arguments to 'enumToJson' and 'enumFromJson' are
(String->String) functions used for converting Haskell enum
constructor names to JSON strings and vice versa. The functions
'firstCharToUpper' and 'firstCharToLower' are provided by RJson.

Default serialization/deserialization behavior is as follows:

    Haskell primitive types   <-->  Corresponding JSON type
    Haskell records           <-->  JSON objects
    Haskell tupels            <-->  Heterogenous JSON arrays
    Haskell algebraic types &
    newtypes                  <-->  JSON array of arguments given to
                                    constructor. First constructor
                                    always used when deserializing.
                                    (Not a very useful default.)

Both ToJson and FromJson have some other methods which can be used to
customize serialization behavior (check the Haddock
documentation). For example, you can specify default field values for
JSON objects.  Note that there is no default implementation of the
'toJson' or 'fromJson' methods, so if you are overriding other methods
in an instance declaration of ToJson or FromJson, you can set 'toJson'
and 'fromJson' to 'genericToJson' and 'genericFromJson' respectively
in order to get the default behavior.

The 'Union' type can be used to implement a kind of crude inheritance
for Haskell record types.  The type has a single binary constructor
('Union'). Unions are serialized by serializing each of the arguments
to the constructor, then merging the resulting JSON objects into a
single object.  If any of the arguments of the constructor does not
serialize to a JSON object then a runtime error will occur.  To create
unions of more than two records, just use `Union` as an infix
constructor.  Type synonyms are defined for complex unions of this
kind (Union3 a b c, Union4 a b c d, etc. etc.)


WARNING: Record types with strict constructors will lead to runtime
errors when using 'fromJson' ('toJson' will still work fine). This is
because it seems to be necessary to temporarily create records with
dummy field values. If the fields are strict, these dummy values get
evaluated, leading to an exception being raised.

OTHER WEIRD BUG: You cannot have a field of type X and a field whose
type is a synonym of X in the same record. This leads to weird
compile-time errors if you try to serialize the record. I have no idea
why (but this is normally easy to work around).