json is where it’s at

Well people I must say that I have come to LOVE JSON quite a bit in the last few months. Having used in on several projects both in work and in play.

However, not so long ago, I used XML for my configuration and data passing needs. I have always pretty much hated (YES! I said it in public) XML. Everything you do with it just seems loooooooong and verbose; a bit like the applications that (over)use it.

I mean we could just abandon structure altogether in a document and save time by not tagging anything, but where does that get us? Nowhere I imagine. It’s nice to have structure, just not an overwhelming amount that XML provides, especially when you only need it for are some simple config files, or sending messages between processes. XML is especially wasteful of space when you have a rather large file with a structure like below, multiplied by 10,000:


The above is data basically representing a list of choices, in strict order, for a person with id 1. So, person 1 prefers person 8 to person 3, person 3 to person 4 etc. To me it was better than what people used before XML, and let me tell you is still used now, which is:

1 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 13 17 18 19

Yes this is simple, clean and has no “spare” characters being used. However, when you have a problem with person number 7868, it makes debugging a little harder. It also makes changing person 7868’s prferences also very difficult.

With JSON this can be done as follows:

{ 'id' : 1,
  'prefs' : [1,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,13,17,18,19]}

It just sits as a very nice compromise between the latter schools of thought. I realise that this may seem very specific but I’m certain that it’s true in general. Not only is it less verbose, it is also easy to integrate with JavaScript on the client side of any web app, and for me with a little nurturing JavaScript is gonna be where it is ALL at it a few years time.

So the next time you go to use XML in a project, have a think first and see if JSON is your new friend.