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Can comments be used in JSON?


Question

Can I use comments inside a JSON file? If so, how?

2016/07/22
1
7807
7/22/2016 3:39:20 PM

Accepted Answer

No.

The JSON should all be data, and if you include a comment, then it will be data too.

You could have a designated data element called "_comment" (or something) that would be ignored by apps that use the JSON data.

You would probably be better having the comment in the processes that generates/receives the JSON, as they are supposed to know what the JSON data will be in advance, or at least the structure of it.

But if you decided to:

{
   "_comment": "comment text goes here...",
   "glossary": {
      "title": "example glossary",
      "GlossDiv": {
         "title": "S",
         "GlossList": {
            "GlossEntry": {
               "ID": "SGML",
               "SortAs": "SGML",
               "GlossTerm": "Standard Generalized Markup Language",
               "Acronym": "SGML",
               "Abbrev": "ISO 8879:1986",
               "GlossDef": {
                  "para": "A meta-markup language, used to create markup languages such as DocBook.",
                  "GlossSeeAlso": ["GML", "XML"]
               },
               "GlossSee": "markup"
            }
         }
      }
   }
}
2018/04/03
5742
4/3/2018 11:57:40 AM

No, comments of the form //… or /*…*/ are not allowed in JSON. This answer is based on:

  • https://www.json.org
  • RFC 4627: The application/json Media Type for JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
  • RFC 8259 The JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Data Interchange Format (supercedes RFCs 4627, 7158, 7159)

Include comments if you choose; strip them out with a minifier before parsing or transmitting.

I just released JSON.minify() which strips out comments and whitespace from a block of JSON and makes it valid JSON that can be parsed. So, you might use it like:

JSON.parse(JSON.minify(my_str));

When I released it, I got a huge backlash of people disagreeing with even the idea of it, so I decided that I'd write a comprehensive blog post on why comments make sense in JSON. It includes this notable comment from the creator of JSON:

Suppose you are using JSON to keep configuration files, which you would like to annotate. Go ahead and insert all the comments you like. Then pipe it through JSMin before handing it to your JSON parser. - Douglas Crockford, 2012

Hopefully that's helpful to those who disagree with why JSON.minify() could be useful.

2017/01/20

Comments were removed from JSON by design.

I removed comments from JSON because I saw people were using them to hold parsing directives, a practice which would have destroyed interoperability. I know that the lack of comments makes some people sad, but it shouldn't.

Suppose you are using JSON to keep configuration files, which you would like to annotate. Go ahead and insert all the comments you like. Then pipe it through JSMin before handing it to your JSON parser.

Source: Public statement by Douglas Crockford on G+

2020/06/20

DISCLAIMER: YOUR WARRANTY IS VOID

As has been pointed out, this hack takes advantage of the implementation of the spec. Not all JSON parsers will understand this sort of JSON. Streaming parsers in particular will choke.

It's an interesting curiosity, but you should really not be using it for anything at all. Below is the original answer.


I've found a little hack that allows you to place comments in a JSON file that will not affect the parsing, or alter the data being represented in any way.

It appears that when declaring an object literal you can specify two values with the same key, and the last one takes precedence. Believe it or not, it turns out that JSON parsers work the same way. So we can use this to create comments in the source JSON that will not be present in a parsed object representation.

({a: 1, a: 2});
// => Object {a: 2}
Object.keys(JSON.parse('{"a": 1, "a": 2}')).length; 
// => 1

If we apply this technique, your commented JSON file might look like this:

{
  "api_host" : "The hostname of your API server. You may also specify the port.",
  "api_host" : "hodorhodor.com",

  "retry_interval" : "The interval in seconds between retrying failed API calls",
  "retry_interval" : 10,

  "auth_token" : "The authentication token. It is available in your developer dashboard under 'Settings'",
  "auth_token" : "5ad0eb93697215bc0d48a7b69aa6fb8b",

  "favorite_numbers": "An array containing my all-time favorite numbers",
  "favorite_numbers": [19, 13, 53]
}

The above code is valid JSON. If you parse it, you'll get an object like this:

{
    "api_host": "hodorhodor.com",
    "retry_interval": 10,
    "auth_token": "5ad0eb93697215bc0d48a7b69aa6fb8b",
    "favorite_numbers": [19,13,53]
}

Which means there is no trace of the comments, and they won't have weird side-effects.

Happy hacking!

2016/01/15

JSON does not support comments. It was also never intended to be used for configuration files where comments would be needed.

Hjson is a configuration file format for humans. Relaxed syntax, fewer mistakes, more comments.

Hjson intro

See hjson.org for JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, Rust, Go, Ruby and C# libraries.

2016/08/09

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/244777
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