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Version: ZIO 2.x

Tutorial: How to Encode and Decode JSON Data?

Introduction

In this article, we will cover how to encode and decode JSON data.

Running Examples

All examples written in this tutorial are accessible through the enocde-and-decode-json-data branch of the ZIO Quickstart: Hello World repository.

To run all tests, execute the following command:

$ sbt Test/runMain dev.zio.quickstart.JsonSpec

What is ZIO JSON?

ZIO JSON is a library that provides facilities for writing efficient JSON encoders and decoders. In this article, we will use this library to work with JSON data. To learn more about that, please refer to the ZIO JSON documentation.

Adding Dependencies

To use ZIO JSON, we need to add the following dependency to our build.sbt file:

libraryDependencies += "dev.zio" %% "zio-json" % "0.3.0-RC10"

JsonEncoder and JsonDecoder

The JsonEncoder and JsonDecoder are the two main types in ZIO JSON. They are used to encode and decode JSON data. Let's see how they are defined (with simplified syntax):

trait JsonDecoder[A] {
def decodeJson(str: CharSequence): Either[String, A]
}

trait JsonEncoder[A] {
def encodeJson(a: A): CharSequence
}

We can say for a type A:

  • A decoder is a function that takes a CharSequence and returns a Right with the decoded value or a Left with an error message.
  • An encoder is a function that takes a value of type A and returns a CharSequence that represents the encoded value (JSON string).

If we provide an instance of JsonDecoder and JsonEncoder for a type A, we can encode and decode JSON data of that type.

Built-in Decoders and Encoders

Simple Values

The ZIO JSON library provides a default implementation for most of the primitive types like Int, String, Boolean, etc.

Let's start test some simple examples:

import zio.test._
import zio.json._

test("decode from string") {
val json = "\"John Doe\""
val decoded = JsonDecoder[String].decodeJson(json)

assertTrue(decoded == Right("John Doe"))
}

test("decode from int") {
val json = "123"
val decoded = JsonDecoder[Int].decodeJson(json)

assertTrue(decoded == Right(123))
}

Higher-kinded Types

It also supports higher-kinded types like List and Option:

import zio.json._
import zio.test._
import zio.test.Assertion._

test("decode from optional value") {
val json = "null"
val decoded = JsonDecoder[Option[Int]].decodeJson(json)
assertTrue(decoded == Right(None))
} +
test("decode from array of ints") {
val json = "[1, 2, 3]"
val decoded = json.fromJson[Array[Int]]

assert(decoded)(isRight(equalTo(Array(1, 2, 3))))
}

How to Define Custom Decoder/Encoder?

Writing From Scratch

To have a new instance we implement the JsonEncoder and JsonDecoder interfaces for a type A.

For example, if we have a type Person we can create instances of JsonEncoder and JsonDecoder for this type as below:

import zio.json._
import zio.json.internal.{Write, RetractReader}

case class Person(name: String, age: Int)

object Person {
implicit val encoder: JsonEncoder[Person] =
new JsonEncoder[Person] {
override def unsafeEncode(a: Person, indent: Option[Int], out: Write): Unit = ???
}
implicit val decoder: JsonDecoder[Person] =
new JsonDecoder[Person] {
override def unsafeDecode(trace: List[JsonError], in: RetractReader): Person = ???
}
}

Writing encoders and decoders from scratch is a complicated task and is not recommended for regular usage. So we don't deep into it furthermore.

Automatic Derivation of Codecs (macros)

By using macro utilities, we can derive the instances of JsonEncoder and JsonDecoder for a case class using DeriveJsonDecoder.gen[A] and DeriveJsonEncoder.gen[A] macros:

import zio.test._
import zio.json._

test("automatic derivation for case classes") {
case class Person(name: String, age: Int)
object Person {
implicit val decoder: JsonDecoder[Person] = DeriveJsonDecoder.gen[Person]
implicit val encoder: JsonEncoder[Person] = DeriveJsonEncoder.gen[Person]
}

assertTrue((Person("John", 42).toJson == "{\"name\":\"John\",\"age\":42}")
&& ("{\"name\":\"John\",\"age\":42}".fromJson[Person] == Right(Person("John", 42)))
)
}

Let's try a more complex example. Assume we have a data type Fruit that is written as follows:

sealed trait Fruit extends Product with Serializable
case class Banana(curvature: Double) extends Fruit
case class Apple (poison: Boolean) extends Fruit

We can generate encoder and decoder for this ADT using the macros:

import zio.json._

object Fruit {
implicit val decoder: JsonDecoder[Fruit] =
DeriveJsonDecoder.gen[Fruit]

implicit val encoder: JsonEncoder[Fruit] =
DeriveJsonEncoder.gen[Fruit]
}

So then we can have the following tests:

import zio.test._
import zio.json._

test("decode from custom adt") {
val json =
"""
|[
| {
| "Apple": {
| "poison": false
| }
| },
| {
| "Banana": {
| "curvature": 0.5
| }
| }
|]
|""".stripMargin

val decoded = json.fromJson[List[Fruit]]
assertTrue(decoded == Right(List(Apple(false), Banana(0.5))))
} +
test("roundtrip custom adt") {
val fruits = List(Apple(false), Banana(0.5))
val json = fruits.toJson
val roundTrip = json.fromJson[List[Fruit]]
assertTrue(roundTrip == Right(fruits))
}

Mapping Existing Codecs to Complex Types

If we have JsonDecoder[A] we can map its output to JsonDecoder[B] by providing a function A => B as an argument to map operation:

trait JsonDecoder[A] {
def map[B](f: A => B): JsonDecoder[B]
}

Example:

import zio.test._
import zio.json._

test("mapping decoders") {
case class Person(name: String, age: Int)
object Person {
implicit val decoder = JsonDecoder[(String, Int)].map { case (name, age) => Person(name, age) }
}

val person = "[\"John\",42]".fromJson[Person]

assertTrue(person == Right(Person("John", 42)))
}

If we have JsonEncoder[A] we can map its input by providing a function of typ B => A to contramap operator to create a new JsonEncoder[B]:

trait JsonEncoder[A] {
def contramap[B](f: B => A): JsonEncoder[B]
}

Example:

import zio.test._
import zio.json._

test("mapping encoders (contramap)") {
case class Person(name: String, age: Int)
object Person {
implicit val encoder: JsonEncoder[Person] =
JsonEncoder[(String, Int)].contramap((p: Person) => (p.name, p.age))
}

val json = Person("John", 42).toJson

assertTrue(json == "[\"John\",42]")
}

Conclusion

In this section we have covered the basics of JSON encoding and decoding. We have also seen how to create custom codecs for complex types.

The complete working example of this tutorial is available on the encode-decode-json branch of our ZIO Quickstart: Hello World quickstart on GitHub.