# Reading & Writing JSON

# JSON Serialization, Encoding, and Decoding with Apple Foundation and the Swift Standard Library

The JSONSerialization class is built into Apple's Foundation framework.

# Read JSON

The JSONObjectWithData function takes NSData, and returns AnyObject. You can use as? to convert the result to your expected type.

do {
    guard let jsonData = "[\"Hello\", \"JSON\"]".dataUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding) else {
        fatalError("couldn't encode string as UTF-8")
    }

    // Convert JSON from NSData to AnyObject
    let jsonObject = try NSJSONSerialization.JSONObjectWithData(jsonData, options: [])
    
    // Try to convert AnyObject to array of strings
    if let stringArray = jsonObject as? [String] {
        print("Got array of strings: \(stringArray.joinWithSeparator(", "))")
    }
} catch {
    print("error reading JSON: \(error)")
}

You can pass options: .AllowFragments instead of options: [] to allow reading JSON when the top-level object isn't an array or dictionary.

# Write JSON

Calling dataWithJSONObject converts a JSON-compatible object (nested arrays or dictionaries with strings, numbers, and NSNull) to raw NSData encoded as UTF-8.

do {
    // Convert object to JSON as NSData
    let jsonData = try NSJSONSerialization.dataWithJSONObject(jsonObject, options: [])
    print("JSON data: \(jsonData)")
    
    // Convert NSData to String
    let jsonString = String(data: jsonData, encoding: NSUTF8StringEncoding)!
    print("JSON string: \(jsonString)")
} catch {
    print("error writing JSON: \(error)")
}

You can pass options: .PrettyPrinted instead of options: [] for pretty-printing.

Same behavior in Swift 3 but with a different syntax.

do {
    guard let jsonData = "[\"Hello\", \"JSON\"]".data(using: String.Encoding.utf8) else {
        fatalError("couldn't encode string as UTF-8")
    }
    
    // Convert JSON from NSData to AnyObject
    let jsonObject = try JSONSerialization.jsonObject(with: jsonData, options: [])
    
    // Try to convert AnyObject to array of strings
    if let stringArray = jsonObject as? [String] {
        print("Got array of strings: \(stringArray.joined(separator: ", "))")
    }
} catch {
    print("error reading JSON: \(error)")
}

do {
    // Convert object to JSON as NSData
    let jsonData = try JSONSerialization.data(withJSONObject: jsonObject, options: [])
    print("JSON data: \(jsonData)")

    // Convert NSData to String
    let jsonString = String(data: jsonData, encoding: .utf8)!
    print("JSON string: \(jsonString)")
} catch {
    print("error writing JSON: \(error)")
}

Note: The Following is currently available only in Swift 4.0 and later.

As of Swift 4.0, the Swift standard library includes the protocols Encodable and Decodable to define a standardized approach to data encoding and decoding. Adopting these protocols will allow implementations of the Encoder and Decoder protocols take your data and encode or decode it to and from an external representation such as JSON. Conformance to the Codable protocol combines both the Encodable and Decodable protocols. This is now the recommended means to handle JSON in your program.

# Encode and Decode Automatically

The easiest way to make a type codable is to declare its properties as types that are already Codable. These types include standard library types such as String, Int, and Double; and Foundation types such as Date, Data, and URL. If a type's properties are codable, the type itself will automatically conform to Codable by simply declaring the conformance.

Consider the following example, in which the Book structure conforms to Codable.

struct Book: Codable {
    let title: String
    let authors: [String]
    let publicationDate: Date
}

Note that standard collections such as Array and Dictionary conform to Codable if they contain codable types.

By adopting Codable, the Book structure can now be encoded to and decoded from JSON using the Apple Foundation classes JSONEncoder and JSONDecoder, even though Book itself contains no code to specifically handle JSON. Custom encoders and decoders can be written, as well, by conforming to the Encoder and Decoder protocols, respectively.

# Encode to JSON data

// Create an instance of Book called book
let encoder = JSONEncoder()
let data = try! encoder.encode(book) // Do not use try! in production code
print(data)

Set encoder.outputFormatting = .prettyPrinted for easier reading. ## Decode from JSON data

# Decode from JSON data

// Retrieve JSON string from some source
let jsonData = jsonString.data(encoding: .utf8)!
let decoder = JSONDecoder()
let book = try! decoder.decode(Book.self, for: jsonData) // Do not use try! in production code
print(book)

In the above example, Book.self informs the decoder of the type to which the JSON should be decoded.

# Encoding or Decoding Exclusively

Sometimes you may not need data to be both encodable and decodable, such as when you need only read JSON data from an API, or if your program only submits JSON data to an API.

If you intend only to write JSON data, conform your type to Encodable.

struct Book: Encodable {
    let title: String
    let authors: [String]
    let publicationDate: Date
}

If you intend only to read JSON data, conform your type to Decodable.

struct Book: Decodable {
    let title: String
    let authors: [String]
    let publicationDate: Date
}

# Using Custom Key Names

APIs frequently use naming conventions other than the Swift-standard camel case, such as snake case. This can become an issue when it comes to decoding JSON, since by default the JSON keys must align exactly with your type's property names. To handle these scenarios you can create custom keys for your type using the CodingKey protocol.

struct Book: Codable {
    // ...
    enum CodingKeys: String, CodingKey { 
        case title
        case authors
        case publicationDate = "publication_date"
    }
}

CodingKeys are generated automatically for types which adopt the Codable protocol, but by creating our own implementation in the example above we're allow our decoder to match the local camel case publicationDate with the snake case publication_date as it's delivered by the API.

# SwiftyJSON

SwiftyJSON is a Swift framework built to remove the need for optional chaining in normal JSON serialization.

You can download it here: https://github.com/SwiftyJSON/SwiftyJSON

Without SwiftyJSON, your code would look like this to find the name of the first book in a JSON object:

if let jsonObject = try NSJSONSerialization.JSONObjectWithData(data, options: .AllowFragments) as? [[String: AnyObject]],
let bookName = (jsonObject[0]["book"] as? [String: AnyObject])?["name"] as? String {
    //We can now use the book name
}

In SwiftyJSON, this is hugely simplified:

let json = JSON(data: data)
if let bookName = json[0]["book"]["name"].string {
    //We can now use the book name
}

It removes the need to check every field, as it will return nil if any of them are invalid.

To use SwiftyJSON, download the correct version from the Git repository - there is a branch for Swift 3. Simply drag the "SwiftyJSON.swift" into your project and import into your class:

import SwiftyJSON

You can create your JSON object using the following two initializers:

let jsonObject = JSON(data: dataObject)

or

let jsonObject = JSON(jsonObject) //This could be a string in a JSON format for example

To access your data, use subscripts:

let firstObjectInAnArray = jsonObject[0]
let nameOfFirstObject = jsonObject[0]["name"]

You can then parse your value to a certain data type, which will return an optional value:

let nameOfFirstObject = jsonObject[0]["name"].string //This will return the name as a string

let nameOfFirstObject = jsonObject[0]["name"].double //This will return null

You can also compile your paths into a swift Array:

let convolutedPath = jsonObject[0]["name"][2]["lastName"]["firstLetter"].string

Is the same as:

let convolutedPath = jsonObject[0, "name", 2, "lastName", "firstLetter"].string

SwiftyJSON also has functionality to print its own errors:

if let name = json[1337].string {
    //You can use the value - it is valid
} else {
    print(json[1337].error) // "Array[1337] is out of bounds" - You cant use the value
}

If you need to write to your JSON object, you can use subscripts again:

var originalJSON:JSON = ["name": "Jack", "age": 18]
originalJSON["age"] = 25 //This changes the age to 25
originalJSON["surname"] = "Smith" //This creates a new field called "surname" and adds the value to it

Should you need the original String for the JSON, for example if you need to write it to a file, you can get the raw value out:

if let string = json.rawString() { //This is a String object
    //Write the string to a file if you like
}

if let data = json.rawData() { //This is an NSData object
    //Send the data to your server if you like
}

# Freddy

Freddy is a JSON parsing library maintained by Big Nerd Ranch. It has three principal benefits:

  • Type Safety: Helps you work with sending and receiving JSON in a way that prevents runtime crashes.
  • Idiomatic: Takes advantage of Swift's generics, enumerations, and functional features, without complicated documentation or magical custom operators.
  • Error Handling: Provides informative error information for commonly occurring JSON errors.
  • # Example JSON Data

    Let's define some example JSON data for use with these examples.

    # Deserializing Raw Data

    To deserialize the data, we initialize a JSON object then access a particular key.

    We try here because accessing the json for the key "success" could fail--it might not exist, or the value might not be a boolean.

    We can also specify a path to access elements nested in the JSON structure. The path is a comma-separated list of keys and indices that describe the path to a value of interest.

    # Deserializing Models Directly

    JSON can be directly parsed to a model class that implements the JSONDecodable protocol.

    # Serializing Raw Data

    Any JSON value can be serialized directly to NSData.

    # Serializing Models Directly

    Any model class that implements the JSONEncodable protocol can be serialized directly to NSData.

    # Simple JSON parsing into custom objects

    Even if third-party libraries are good, a simple way to parse the JSON is provided by protocols You can imagine you have got an object Todo as

    struct Todo {
        let comment: String
    }
    
    

    Whenever you receive the JSON, you can handle the plain NSData as shown in the other example using NSJSONSerialization object.

    After that, using a simple protocol JSONDecodable

    typealias JSONDictionary = [String:AnyObject]
    protocol JSONDecodable {
        associatedtype Element
        static func from(json json: JSONDictionary) -> Element?
    }
    
    

    And making your Todo struct conforming to JSONDecodable does the trick

    extension Todo: JSONDecodable {
        static func from(json json: JSONDictionary) -> Todo? {
            guard let comment = json["comment"] as? String else { return nil }
            return Todo(comment: comment)
        }
    }
    
    

    You can try it with this json code:

    {
        "todos": [
            {
                "comment" : "The todo comment"
            }
        ]
    }
    
    

    When you got it from the API, you can serialize it as the previous examples shown in an AnyObject instance. After that, you can check if the instance is a JSONDictionary instance

    guard let jsonDictionary = dictionary as? JSONDictionary else { return }
    
    

    The other thing to check, specific for this case because you have an array of Todo in the JSON, is the todos dictionary

    guard let todosDictionary = jsonDictionary["todos"] as? [JSONDictionary] else { return }
    
    

    Now that you got the array of dictionaries, you can convert each of them in a Todo object by using flatMap (it will automatically delete the nil values from the array)

    let todos: [Todo] = todosDictionary.flatMap { Todo.from(json: $0) }
    
    

    # JSON Parsing Swift 3

    Here is the JSON File we will be using called animals.json

    {
        "Sea Animals": [
        {
         "name": "Fish",
         "question": "How many species of fish are there?"    },
                    {
                    "name": "Sharks",
                    "question": "How long do sharks live?"
                    },
                    {
                    "name": "Squid",
                    "question": "Do squids have brains?"
                    },
                    {
                    "name": "Octopus",
                    "question": "How big do octopus get?"
                    },
                    {
                    "name": "Star Fish",
                    "question": "How long do star fish live?"
                    }
                    ],
        "mammals": [
                    {
          "name": "Dog",
          "question": "How long do dogs live?"
        },
        {
          "name": "Elephant",
          "question": "How much do baby elephants weigh?"
        },
        {
          "name": "Cats",
          "question": "Do cats really have 9 lives?"
        },
        {
          "name": "Tigers",
          "question": "Where do tigers live?"
        },
        {
          "name": "Pandas",
          "question": "WHat do pandas eat?"
        }   ] }
    
    

    Import your JSON File in your project

    You can perform this simple function to print out your JSON file

    
      func jsonParsingMethod() {
            //get the file
            let filePath = Bundle.main.path(forResource: "animals", ofType: "json")
            let content = try! String(contentsOfFile: filePath!)
            
            let data: Data = content.data(using: String.Encoding.utf8)!
            let json: NSDictionary =  try! JSONSerialization.jsonObject(with: data as Data, options:.mutableContainers) as! NSDictionary
          
    //Call which part of the file you'd like to pare
            if let results = json["mammals"] as? [[String: AnyObject]] {
                
                for res in results {
                    //this will print out the names of the mammals from out file.
                    if let rates = res["name"] as? String {
                        print(rates)
                    }
               }
           }
        }
    
    

    If you want to put it in a table view, I would create a dictionary first with an NSObject.

    Create a new swift file called ParsingObject and create your string variables.

    Make sure that the variable name is the same as the JSON File

    . For example, in our project we have name and question so in our new swift file, we will use

    var name: String?
    var question: String?
    
    

    Initialize the NSObject we made back into our ViewController.swift var array = ParsingObject Then we would perform the same method we had before with a minor modification.

    
        func jsonParsingMethod() {
                //get the file
                let filePath = Bundle.main.path(forResource: "animals", ofType: "json")
                let content = try! String(contentsOfFile: filePath!)
                
                let data: Data = content.data(using: String.Encoding.utf8)!
                let json: NSDictionary =  try! JSONSerialization.jsonObject(with: data as Data, options:.mutableContainers) as! NSDictionary
                
    //This time let's get Sea Animals
                let results = json["Sea Animals"] as? [[String: AnyObject]]
                
    //Get all the stuff using a for-loop
                for i in 0 ..< results!.count {
                    
    //get the value
                    let dict = results?[i]
                    let resultsArray = ParsingObject()
                    
    //append the value to our NSObject file
                    resultsArray.setValuesForKeys(dict!)
                    array.append(resultsArray)
                    
                }
              
            }
    
    

    Then we show it in our tableview by doing this,

    
       func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, numberOfRowsInSection section: Int) -> Int {
                return array.count
            }
            
            func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, cellForRowAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> UITableViewCell {
                let cell = tableView.dequeueReusableCell(withIdentifier: "Cell", for: indexPath)
    //This is where our values are stored
                let object = array[indexPath.row]
                cell.textLabel?.text = object.name
                cell.detailTextLabel?.text = object.question
                return cell
            }
    
    

    # Arrow

    Arrow is an elegant JSON parsing library in Swift.

    It allows to parse JSON and map it to custom model classes with help of an <-- operator:

    identifier <-- json["id"]
    name <-- json["name"]
    stats <-- json["stats"]
    
    

    Example:

    Swift model

    struct Profile {
        var identifier = 0
        var name = ""
        var link: NSURL?
        var weekday: WeekDay = .Monday
        var stats = Stats()
        var phoneNumbers = [PhoneNumber]()
    }
    
    

    JSON file

    {
        "id": 15678,
        "name": "John Doe",
        "link": "https://apple.com/steve",
        "weekdayInt" : 3,
        "stats": {
            "numberOfFriends": 163,
            "numberOfFans": 10987
        },
        "phoneNumbers": [{
                         "label": "house",
                         "number": "9809876545"
                         }, {
                         "label": "cell",
                         "number": "0908070656"
                         }, {
                         "label": "work",
                         "number": "0916570656"
        }]
    }
    
    

    Mapping

    extension Profile: ArrowParsable {
        mutating func deserialize(json: JSON) {
            identifier <-- json["id"]
            link <-- json["link"]
            name <-- json["name"]
            weekday <-- json["weekdayInt"]
            stats <- json["stats"]
            phoneNumbers <-- json["phoneNumbers"]
        }
    }
    
    

    Usage

    let profile = Profile()
    profile.deserialize(json)
    
    

    Installation:

    Carthage

    github "s4cha/Arrow"
    
    

    CocoaPods

    pod 'Arrow'
    use_frameworks!
    
    

    Manually

    Simply Copy and Paste Arrow.swift in your Xcode Project

    https://github.com/s4cha/Arrow

    As A Framework

    Download Arrow from the GitHub repository and build the Framework target on the example project. Then Link against this framework.

    # Syntax

    • NSJSONSerialization.JSONObjectWithData(jsonData, options: NSJSONReadingOptions) // Returns an Object from jsonData. This method throws on failure.
    • NSJSONSerialization.dataWithJSONObject(jsonObject, options: NSJSONWritingOptions) // Returns NSData from a JSON object. Pass in NSJSONWritingOptions.PrettyPrinted in options for an output that is more readable.