Some JSON Resources For You

As a developer I really dig JSON over XML for information exchange. It's clean, simple, and just works. I don't have to deal with complicated schema validation, reams of unreadable encoded text, and hierarchies that make no sense. I prefer to consume in apps and more and more services offer it up natively these days. Here are a few key tools I use that you might fun value-add in your dealings with JSON.

Hmm... is it JSON or Json? Anyway, here's a short list.


IMHO this is the key library for working with JSON. Yes, you can do some native de-serialization with .NET but the Json.NET library makes reading and writing JSON easy. You can de-serialize a JSON response with one line of code and suck it into a set of C# classes (or use the JObject class itself to pluck values out directly). If you're really hung up on the angle brackets, Json.NET can translate your JSON to and from XML (but that would be silly). Highly recommended and it even comes as a Nuget package so nothing to download and unzip!

JSON Format

Getting JSON and trying to look at it can be painful. Sure, it's a human readable format but sometimes it comes as a big gobbly-gook glob of text if the API returns your data with the whitespace compressed (to reduce the size of the package). This online tool lets you paste in a JSON string and reformat it into something more readable. Bonus feature is you can just plug in a URL that returns the data in JSON format as well. Handy.

JSON C# Class Generator

Of course if you consume JSON with the Json.NET library one very slick feature is a single line of code to de-serialize it into a C# class. Here's an example:

var records = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<RecordModel>(someDownloadedString);

The variable "records" will now be a complete object graph of your JSON (including child objects de-serialized into arrays, lists, or whatever your collection type is). For this to work you need some classes of course. They're simple to write and are just POCO but do have to match up with the structure of the JSON so it can be tricky creating them and a tiresome task.

Enter the JSON C# Class Generator project. This is a GUI tool that you plunk your JSON into, set some properties and generate a series of C# classes you can link into your project and perform the online-line-de-serialization above. Pretty nice and supports a lot of features plus it's open source to boot.


Going one step better (or worse depending on your point of view) is the online version of a similar tool. With the json2csharp site, you can either enter the JSON data directly or enter the URL and it'll fetch it for you. The class generation is simple (as it should be) with no options but it's nice as you don't have to download/install anything. I did find a few JSON APIs that didn't work with this one but did work with the formatter so in that case I had to enter the URL in the formatter to get the JSON, then plunk the data into this tool to get my classes. In any case, it's way better to use tools like these rather than writing the classes yourself (again, my opinion, your mileage may vary).


If you're using JSON and looking for a quick hit to see your data, look no further than JSONView, a Firefox add-on that will format the JSON data output for you. Once installed, just visit the URL to your JSON data and the output will render in the browser. That's as simple as it can get. No mess, no fuss.

Shameless Plug

There are a lot of tutorials out there on using some of these tools, including one shameless plug of my own. Here's a blog entry I wrote on consuming MediaWiki's content in JSON format. MediaWiki is the software powering Wikipedia (along with a ton of other wiki sites). It walks through using the Json.NET library and navigating around Wikipedia using the data in JSON created classes.

Got more resources? Post them in the comments if you have some other JSON related resources and I'll update the post with them. Until then, enjoy!


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