The JSON standard library in Python

I have wrote a few posts on standard libraries in python thus far, I do not think I will write posts on all of them, however I still think I should write a post for each of them that I might actually use in projects. One such library might very well be the JSON standard library. The JSON standard library is the standard library to use when it comes to creating a JSON string from a source object, and to parse a JSON string into workable objects. The JSON format is an example of a data serialization language, that is taking an object and turning it into a string format that can be stored in a file, or transmitted over and http request to or from a client system.

If you have some experience with javaScript there is the JSON.parse, and JSON.strigify methods that can be used to do the same in a javaScript environment. I wrote a post centered on the javaScript Json parse method before hand, and it is a javaScript rather than python related topic so I will not be getting into detail with that here.

So I am sure that I will want to use the json library at least once or twice here and there of I start to work on some real projects with python, so I should take a moment to work out at least a few basic examples of the json library for the sake of just getting the hang of it,

1 - Some basic examples of the json library

There are two main methods of interest when it comes to using the json library which are the dumps method that can be used to convert an object to a JSON string and the loads method that can convert such a string back into an object that can then be used with some code. In this section I will then just be going over a few basic examples of these two kinds of methods just for the sake of getting a feel for how to go about using them in a very hello world kind of way.

1.1 - The json dump method

The dumps method on the json library would seem to be the python equivalent of the JSON.stringify method. If I give the method a python object such as a list of a dictionary it will convert that to a JSON form. As I would expect lists are treated as javaScript arrays, and dictionaries are treated as plain javaScript Objects.

import json
t=json.dumps(['foo', {'bar': 42}])
# ["foo", {"bar": 42}]

1.2 - The loads method

When it comes to parsing or loading a JSON string into an object there is the loads method. All I have to do is just pass the json string to the loads method as the first argument and the method will return an object that I can then use with some python code.

import json
s="[\"foo\", {\"bar\": 42}]"

2 - A request example of JSON

The thing about json is that it is sort of like the HTML of data, there are many micro services and so forth that make use of JSON as a way to receive and send data. For this section though I will just be going over a very simple example that makes use of the requests library as a way to get some json at a free public source. Once the response is loaded I can then just pass the response text to the loads method and then get a workable object.

import json
import requests
response = requests.get("")
todos = json.loads(response.text)

This is just a simple example of what JSON is typically used for, a real project will include of a client side system and a back end that listens for post requests. At this time I do not have much experience doing these sorts of things in a python environment, when it comes to nodejs though I like to use express as a way to get up and running quickly with full stack development.

3 - open and save a JSON file example

I often might use json as a way to store some data locally also, so it would make sense to have at least some kind of basic example of saving and loading json on a local file system. The open built in function might be the quick and simple way to go about creating something to that effect.

I would need a function that I use to get an object from a json file, or create a new object. Then I will also want a function that is used to write an object to a file. Using the option method in the r mode can be used to read a json file, but it will throw an error if the file is not there, so it should be used in a try statement. The w+ mode of the open function is then what I can use to write json to a file. When using these methods I should make an effort to make sure that I am always using an absolute path. The os library is where I can get useful methods for things like getting the current working path, and resolving to an absolute path.

import json, os
# resolve an absolute file path for the file
file_name = 'state.json'
file_path = os.path.abspath( os.path.join( os.getcwd(), file_name) )
# get a state object from json, or create a new one
def get_state():
f = open(file_path, 'r')
j = json.loads(
print('json load good');
return j
print('json load fail, started new state');
return {"c": 0}
# write and object to a file
def put_state(obj):
f = open(file_path, 'w+')
j = json.dumps(obj)
f.write( j )
return j
state = get_state()
c = state['c']
state['c'] = int(c) + 1

This is just a basic silly little thing, but I would not have to put much more time into something such as this to have a very basic little command line based game of some kind. I often find myself starting those kinds of projects now and then as they stroke me as a good way to focus on what the actual logic of a game is rather than getting lost in flashy eye candy related features.

4 - Conclusion

The JSON format is a standard format for data serialization that is used in web development. I also often find myself using it as a way to store data also, but there are many other formats that might be a better option when it comes to some kinds of applications. One drawback about JSON is that it does not support comments, so it is not the best option when it comes to a config file format. Other standards for data serialization such as yaml do support comments so there are other options that are better suited for certain other tasks.