Serializing class instance to JSON


I am trying to create a JSON string representation of a class instance and having difficulty. Let's say the class is built like this:

class testclass:
    value1 = "a"
    value2 = "b"

A call to the json.dumps is made like this:

t = testclass()

It is failing and telling me that the testclass is not JSON serializable.

TypeError: <__main__.testclass object at 0x000000000227A400> is not JSON serializable

I have also tried using the pickle module :

t = testclass()
print(pickle.dumps(t, pickle.HIGHEST_PROTOCOL))

And it gives class instance information but not a serialized content of the class instance.


What am I doing wrong?

1/30/2018 1:47:25 AM

Accepted Answer

The basic problem is that the JSON encoder json.dumps() only knows how to serialize a limited set of object types by default, all built-in types. List here:

One good solution would be to make your class inherit from JSONEncoder and then implement the JSONEncoder.default() function, and make that function emit the correct JSON for your class.

A simple solution would be to call json.dumps() on the .__dict__ member of that instance. That is a standard Python dict and if your class is simple it will be JSON serializable.

class Foo(object):
    def __init__(self):
        self.x = 1
        self.y = 2

foo = Foo()
s = json.dumps(foo) # raises TypeError with "is not JSON serializable"

s = json.dumps(foo.__dict__) # s set to: {"x":1, "y":2}

The above approach is discussed in this blog posting:

    Serializing arbitrary Python objects to JSON using __dict__

1/17/2019 6:03:44 AM

There's one way that works great for me that you can try out:

json.dumps() can take an optional parameter default where you can specify a custom serializer function for unknown types, which in my case looks like

def serialize(obj):
    """JSON serializer for objects not serializable by default json code"""

    if isinstance(obj, date):
        serial = obj.isoformat()
        return serial

    if isinstance(obj, time):
        serial = obj.isoformat()
        return serial

    return obj.__dict__

First two ifs are for date and time serialization and then there is a obj.__dict__ returned for any other object.

the final call looks like:

json.dumps(myObj, default=serialize)

It's especially good when you are serializing a collection and you don't want to call __dict__ explicitly for every object. Here it's done for you automatically.

So far worked so good for me, looking forward for your thoughts.


You can specify the default named parameter in the json.dumps() function:

json.dumps(obj, default=lambda x: x.__dict__)


Form the docs (2.7, 3.6):

``default(obj)`` is a function that should return a serializable version
of obj or raise TypeError. The default simply raises TypeError.

(Works on Python 2.7 and Python 3.x)

Note: In this case you need instance variables and not class variables, as the example in the question tries to do. (I am assuming the asker meant class instance to be an object of a class)

I learned this first from @phihag's answer here. Found it to be the simplest and cleanest way to do the job.


I just do:


This is not the full answer, and if you have some sort of complicated object class you certainly will not get everything. However I use this for some of my simple objects.

One that it works really well on is the "options" class that you get from the OptionParser module. Here it is along with the JSON request itself.

  def executeJson(self, url, options):
        if options.verbose:
            print data
        headers = {'Content-type': 'application/json', 'Accept': 'text/plain'}
        return, data, headers=headers)

Using jsonpickle

import jsonpickle

object = YourClass()
json_object = jsonpickle.encode(object)

JSON is not really meant for serializing arbitrary Python objects. It's great for serializing dict objects, but the pickle module is really what you should be using in general. Output from pickle is not really human-readable, but it should unpickle just fine. If you insist on using JSON, you could check out the jsonpickle module, which is an interesting hybrid approach.