JSON for Java

This small and performant library allows for easy JSON parsing, modifying and serializing, in Java, supporting the JSON standard specification and the extended JSON 5 specification.

Design goals

This library is shaped around easy analyzation and manipulation of JSON data.

  • Easy to use JSON tree representation with little as possible instanceof checks and casts.
  • Navigating JSON trees like JavaScript objects using path strings (i.e. friends[3].name).
  • Quick and easy parsing of files and JSON strings.
  • Quick serialization with a high variety of formatting options.
  • Support for the JSON 5 specification.


The artifact can be installed from my Maven repository.

The current version is 0.4.


repositories {
    // Add my repository
    maven { url "https://maven.shadew.net/" }
dependencies {
    // Add the artifact
    implementation "net.shadew:json:0.4"


    <!-- Add my repository -->
        <id>Shadew Maven</id>

    <!-- Add the artifact -->


The artifact can be downloaded from my Maven repository:



First you want a net.shadew.json.Json instance. This instance is used to parse and serialize JSON trees. Each Json instance manages one specific configuration, if you need multiple configurations, you need multiple Json instances.

// Create a preconfigured JSON instance
Json json = Json.json();
// Or use JSON 5
Json json5 = Json.json5();
// Or use your own configurations
Json custom = Json.json5Builder().formatConfig(
    // Setting the format config overrides the JSON 5 option:
    // you have to set it manually

Using this JSON instance you can parse files, strings, and other things that can be read using a java.io.Reader. This instance is also used to write to files, strings or other writeable things that are a java.io.Writer, or a java.lang.StringBuilder.

Any JSON value is represented using a JsonNode instance. This node can be a primitive, null, an array or an object. ** Do not implement JsonNode yourself!!**


A JSON file or string is easily parsed using one of the parse methods of your Json instance.

try {
    JsonNode tree = json.parse(new File("json/file.json"));
    // Read data from tree
} catch (JsonSyntaxException | FileNotFoundException exc) {
    // Handle your exceptions appropriately

The method will return a JsonNode instance, or throw a checked JsonSyntaxException when parsing fails. When parsing a File, a FileNotFoundException could also occur. Any other IOException that occurs is thrown as an UncheckedIOException, they are usually more critical. Catch an UncheckedIOException if you want to handle those too.


Serialization is again done using a Json instance. A Json instance can be configured with a wide range of formatting options by providing a FormattingConfig instance as you configure the Json instance using it’s builder. This configuration is copied when you build the Json instance.

To serialize a JSON tree, simply call any serialize method on your Json instance, and provide a tree and (unless you want a string) a file, writer or StringBuilder to write to.

String jsonString = json.serialize(tree);

A few examples of different FormatConfig setups.


Spreads objects and arrays over multiple lines. This is the default configuration when no FormattingConfig has been set for the Json instance.

    "mode": "pretty",
    "indents": 4


Puts JSON on one line but keeps spacing. Useful for small JSON trees.

{ "mode": "prettyCompact", "keep_spaces": true }


Makes JSON as compact as possible.


In JSON 5 it also removes quotes where possible.



Use a different indentation (2 spaces, instead of the default of 4).

  "mode": "pretty",
  "indents": 2

Another way to serialize JSON is by calling toString on a JsonNode. However, this is less optimal and is intended for debugging only. For production, use Json#serialize.


Codecs are a handy tool to easily encode and decode Java objects into JSON trees and vice versa. All the logic for this can be found in a separate package: net.shadew.json.codec.

The main type that is important in defining codecs is the JsonCodec interface. This interface contains many base codec definitions, for primitives and other basic Java types. You can use codecs of other types to define new codecs.

Say, you have a class like this:

public class Person {
    public final String firstName;
    public final String lastName;
    public String nickname; // Optional
    public Person(String first, String last) {
        firstName = first;
        lastName = last;

The class contains a few fields and you preferably want to serialize it in a JSON structure like this:

    "first_name": "Lottie",
    "last_name": "Mills",
    "nickname": "Lot"

In this scenario, you have a variety of options:

  • Implement JsonCodec manually
  • Make your class implement the JsonEncodable interface
  • Implement a RecordCodec

The first option means you have to perform the checks for the presence and correctness of fields yourself. This might be preferred in some cases, but the codec system can do this for you. The second option is not really practical, as this is more useful for mutable types and your class is mostly immutable. Additionally, it will still require you to perform the same checks as with implementing JsonCodec.

The RecordCodec solves problems here. It allows you to read and write fields in the format you prefer, while the RecordCodec class keeps track of the validity of the JSON tree.

For the Person class, the codec implementation would look something like this:

public static final JsonCodec<Person> CODEC = new RecordCodec<>() {
    protected Person decode(DecodeContext<Person> ctx) {
        Person person = new Person(
            ctx.field("first_name", JsonCodec.STRING),
            ctx.field("last_name", JsonCodec.STRING)
        // Applies the field only if it's present in the JSON object
        ctx.applyField("nickname", JsonCodec.STRING, nickname -> person.nickname = nickname);
        return person;
    protected void encode(EncodeContext<Person> ctx, Person obj) {
        ctx.field("first_name", JsonCodec.STRING, obj.firstName);
        ctx.field("last_name", JsonCodec.STRING, obj.lastName);
        if (obj.nickname != null)
            // Set the optional field only if it's present
            ctx.field("nickname", JsonCodec.STRING, obj.nickname);

Note that a RecordCodec always produces and requires a JSON object. It cannot handle arrays or primitives. See the static methods of JsonCodec for other ways to construct codecs.


Documentation is being worked on. Parts of the library are documented with JavaDoc comments. More documentation coming in later versions.

I am working on hosting the compiled JavaDoc online.



  • Added new methods for checking values of object elements (i.e. isBoolean(String key))
  • Added MissingKeyException that can be thrown when a required key is missing
  • Fixed isPrimitive returning true for all JSON structures and isConstruct returning false for all JSON structures
  • Deprecated JsonPath and JsonNode.query(...) methods


  • Fixed NoSuchMethodError with Android not desugaring toArray(IntFunction)


  • Fixed floating point numbers between 0 and 1 being rounded to 0 in JsonNode.number()


  • Added the codec system for easy encoding and decoding of Java objects to/from JSON trees
  • Fixed toString returning net.shadew.json.BooleanNode@..... for boolean types, making toString JSON data not parsable
  • A new unchecked exception, JsonException, is now the superclass of all the exceptions thrown by the assertions in JsonNode methods, as well as exceptions thrown from codecs
  • Added JsonNode.arrayCollector() for easily collecting all JsonNodes in a Stream into an array node
  • The numeric values returned from JsonNodes should now be closer to the actual value stored in the JSON data
  • JsonRepresentable now replaces JsonSerializable, and a JsonNode is now JsonRepresentable
  • JsonNode.fromJavaObject is now deprecated and only for debug purposes
  • Improved documentation


  • Add methods to create array nodes from arrays of primitives


  • It’s now possible to parse JSON that is not an object or array at root (can enabled in ParsingConfig)
  • Added Json presets with compact printing
  • Various new JsonNode API for reading and writing a JSON structure
  • IncorrectArrayLengthException has been replaced with IncorrectSizeException
  • JsonType has now has some extra API
  • Serializing a JSON node that is not an object or array now throws an exception (this check can be disabled in FormattingConfig)
  • Surrogate pairs are now treated as one code point when parsing
  • Improved documentation


Initial release


See full license

Copyright 2021 Shadew

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the “License”); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at


Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “ AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

Hi! I'm Samū, a furry, artist and game developer from the Netherlands. This is my blog, where I write about my projects and ideas.

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