json2typescript

by appvision-gmbh

appvision-gmbh / json2typescript

Convert JSON to TypeScript with secure type checking!

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json2typescript

In Angular applications, everyone consumes JSON API's from an external source. Type checking and object mapping is only possible in TypeScript, but not in the JavaScript runtime. As the API may change at any point, it is important for larger projects to verify the consumed data.

json2typescript is a small package containing a helper class that maps JSON objects to an instance of a TypeScript class. After compiling to JavaScript, the result will still be an instance of this class. One big advantage of this approach is, that you can also use methods of this class.

With json2typescript, only a simple function call is necessary, as demonstrated in this TypeScript snippet:

// Assume that you have a class named User defined at some point
// Assume that you get a JSON string from a webservice
let jsonStr: string = ...;
let jsonObj: object = JSON.parse(jsonStr);

// Now you can map the json object to the TypeScript object automatically let jsonConvert: JsonConvert = new JsonConvert(); let user: User = jsonConvert.deserializeObject(jsonObj, User); console.log(user); // prints User{ ... } in JavaScript runtime, not Object{ ... }

Tip: All

serialize()
and
deserialize()
methods may throw an
Error
in case of failure. Make sure you catch errors in production!

Changelog

See the changelog in the separate file for bug fixes, new features and breaking changes: Changelog

Tip: We earlier suggested to use the

@JsonObject(classId)
decorator, but did not enforce it. Since v1.4.0, this is mandatory in order to make (de)serialization work properly with class inheritance. In versions above v1.2.0 and below v1.4.0, it is possible to run into issues when not using the decorator.

Getting started

Requirements

We developed json2typescript for Angular 2+ and Ionic 2+. In this document, we only cover this use case. However, you may use our package for pure TypeScript or even JavaScript applications.

Setup a Test Application

We recommend to use the official angular cli tool in order to set up a new Angular project. Then, all you need to do is type the following into your operating system's terminal:

ng new testApplication
cd testApplication

npm install json2typescript

Our package makes use of TypeScript decorators. If not done already, please activate them in your tsconfig.json under

compilerOptions
as follows:
{
  "compilerOptions": {
    [...]
    "experimentalDecorators": true,
    "emitDecoratorMetadata": true,
    [...]
}

Tip: We have tried to make the compiler options of

json2typescript
to be as strict as possible. This enables you to use compiler options such as
"strictNullChecks": true
or
"noImplicitAny": true
in your own project.

Now you are ready to use the package.

Mapping example

In order to use the json2typescript package, all you need to do is write decorators and import the package. The following things need to be done if you would like to map JSON to existing classes:

  • Classes need to be preceeded by
    @JsonObject(classIdentifier)
  • Properties need to be preceeded by
    @JsonProperty(jsonProperty, conversionOption, isOptional)
  • Properties need to have a default value (or undefined), otherwise the mapper will not work

See below an example so you can learn from it how json2typescript works best.

Assuming that you have created the testApplication in the step before and installed json2typescript as suggested, create a class in a new file city.ts with the following content:

import {JsonObject, JsonProperty} from "json2typescript";

@JsonObject("City") export class City {

// This property has no @JsonProperty. 
// It will not be mapped.
id: number = 123;

// This maps the value of the JSON key "name" to the class property "name".
// If the JSON value is not of type string (or missing), there will be an exception.
@JsonProperty("name", String)
name: string = "";

// This maps the JSON key "founded" to the private class property "_founded".
// Note the use of public getter and setter.
// If the JSON value is not of type number (or missing), there will be an exception.
@JsonProperty("founded", Number)
private _founded: number = 0;
get founded() { return this._founded; }
set founded(value: number) { this._founded = value; }

// This maps the JSON key "beautiful" to the class property "beautiful".
// If the JSON value is not of type boolean (or missing), there will be an exception.
@JsonProperty("beautiful", Boolean)
beautiful: boolean = false;

// This maps the JSON key "data" to the class property "data".
// We are not sure about the type, so we omit the second parameter.
// There will be an exception if the JSON value is missing.
@JsonProperty("data") // is the same as @JsonProperty("data", Any)
data: any = undefined;

// This maps the JSON key "keywords" to the class property "keywords".
// This is an example of a string array. Note our syntax "[String]".
// In the further examples at the end of this document, you can see how to nest complex arrays.
@JsonProperty("keywords", [String])
keywords: string[] = []; // or Array<string>

printInfo() {
    if (this.beautiful)
        console.log(this.name + " was founded in " + this.founded + " and is really beautiful!");
    else
        console.log(this.name + " was founded in " + this.founded + ".");
}

}

Now create a file country.ts with the following content:

import {City} from "./city";
import {JsonObject, JsonProperty} from "json2typescript";

@JsonObject("Country") export class Country {

// This maps the value of the JSON key "countryName" to the class property "name".
// If the JSON value is not of type string (or missing), there will be an exception.
@JsonProperty("countryName", String)
name: string = "";

// This maps the value of the JSON key "cities" to the class property "cities".
// If the JSON value is not of type array object (or missing), there will be an exception.
// There will be an exception too if the objects in the array do not match the class "City".
@JsonProperty("cities", [City])
cities: City[] = [];

}

Then navigate to the file app.component.ts and add the following code:

import {Component, OnInit} from '@angular/core';
import {JsonConvert, OperationMode, ValueCheckingMode} from "json2typescript"
import {Country} from "./country";

@Component({ selector: 'app-root', templateUrl: './app.component.html', styleUrls: ['./app.component.css'] }) export class AppComponent implements OnInit { ngOnInit() { // Define a JSON object (could come from a HTTP service, parsed with JSON.parse() if necessary) const jsonObject: object = { "countryName": "Switzerland", "cities": [ { "id": 1, "name": "Basel", "founded": -200, "beautiful": true, "data": 123, "keywords": ["Rhine", "River"] }, { "id": 1, "name": "Zurich", "founded": 0, "beautiful": false, "data": "no", "keywords": ["Limmat", "Lake"] } ] };

    // Choose your settings
    // Check the detailed reference in the chapter "JsonConvert class properties and methods"
    let jsonConvert: JsonConvert = new JsonConvert();
    jsonConvert.operationMode = OperationMode.LOGGING; // print some debug data
    jsonConvert.ignorePrimitiveChecks = false; // don't allow assigning number to string etc.
    jsonConvert.valueCheckingMode = ValueCheckingMode.DISALLOW_NULL; // never allow null

    // Map to the country class
    let country: Country;
    try {
        country = jsonConvert.deserializeObject(jsonObject, Country);
        country.cities[0].printInfo(); // prints: Basel was founded in -200 and is really beautiful!
    } catch (e) {
        console.log((<error>e));
    }

}

Play around with the JSON to provocate exceptions when deserializing the object.

Important notes

Avoid circular dependencies on the classes that use

json2typescript
. Even if you don't have any errors in your IDE,
json2typescript
will not properly work in this case.

Detailed reference

Class and property decorators

Decorators should be used whenever you would like to map JSON with TypeScript data. As of now, you must not use more than one decorator per class or property.

Class decorators

The class decorators are used infront of the class declaration and do support one parameter:

@JsonObject("User")
export class User {}

Warning: The class decorator uses the parameter to identify the class. Please use a unique identifier for each class in your project, for example simply the name of the class.

Tip: Make sure you import

JsonObject
from
json2typescript
.

First parameter: classIdentifier

The first parameter of

@JsonObject
must be a unique class identifier, usually just the class name.

Property decorators

Property decorators are a vital part for type checking. It is important that the type in the decorator matches the TypeScript type.

@JsonObject("User")
export class User {
    @JsonProperty("jsonPropertyName", String, false)
    name: string = "";
}

Important note: You must assign any (valid) value or

undefined
to your property at initialization, otherwise our mapper does not work and will simply ignore the property. Assigning no value is not the same as assigning
undefined
in context of
json2typescript
.

Tip: Make sure you import

JsonObject
and
JsonProperty
from
json2typescript
.

First parameter: jsonProperty

The first parameter of

@JsonProperty
is the JSON object property name. It happens that the property names given by the server are very ugly. Here you can map any json property name to the
User
property
name
. In our case,
json["jsonPropertyName"]
gets mapped to
user.name
.

Second parameter (optional): conversionOption

The second parameter of

@JsonProperty
describes what happens when doing the mapping between JSON and TypeScript objects. This parameter is optional; the default value is
Any
(which means no type check is done when the mapping happens).
Use of expected type

If you would like that

json2typescript
performs an automatic type check according to given TypeScript types, you can pass a type you expect. Follow the following guide when doing that:
  • Make sure you pass the class name and not an instance of the class.
  • In case of primitive types, you have to use the upper case names.
  • In case of
    any
    type, import from
    json2typescript
    the class
    Any
    .

See the following cheat sheet for reference:

| Expected type | TypeScript type | | --- | :--- | | String | string | | Number | number | | Boolean | boolean | | User | User | | Any | any | | | | | [String] | string[] | | [Number] | number[] | | [Boolean] | boolean[] | | [User] | User[] | | [Any] | any[] |

At first, our array notation on the left looks odd. But this notation allows you to define even nested arrays. See the examples at the end of this document for more info about nesting arrays.

Adding a custom converter

More advanced users may need to use custom converters. If you want

json2typescript
to use your custom converter, you need to follow these steps:
  • Write a converter class that implements
    JsonCustomConvert
    where
     is the type resulting in the TypeScript class.
  • Make sure you add the
    @JsonConverter
    decorator to this class (see next chapter how).
  • Pass your converter class as second param in the
    @JsonProperty
    decorator

Assume you would like to transform

1893-11-15
(string from JSON) to a TypeScript
Date
instance, then you would write a class
DateConverter
(see next chapter how) and pass it as second param in
@JsonProperty
as below:
@JsonObject("User")
export class User {
    @JsonProperty("birthdate", DateConverter)
    birthdate: Date = new Date();
}

Third parameter (optional): isOptional

The third parameter of

@JsonProperty
determines whether the
jsonProperty
has to be present in the json. This parameter is optional; the default value is false.

By default,

JsonConvert
throws an exception if a decorated class property cannot be found in the given JSON when deserializing. If you set the third parameter to true, there is no exception when it is missing. The type is still checked as soon the property is present again.

The same applies for the case when you try to serialize a TypeScript object to a JSON object. If the property is not defined in the class and optional, it will not be added to the JSON object.

Tip: Some API's return null instead of omitting optional values. If you flag a property as optional,

json2typescript
will ignore (JSON) null values at deserialization and keep the default value of the property instead. This fact is particularly helpful if your project uses TypeScript
strictNullChecks
or/and disallows
null
values through the
valueCheckingMode
property in
json2typescript
. Furthermore, note that the instance property
ignoreRequiredCheck
– if set to true – overrides all
isOptional
values for all properties.

Important notes

  • Make sure you define the expected type as accurate as possible, even if you expect primitive types.
  • By default, casting primitives into other primitives is not allowed. Check the public properties below in this document to change this behaviour.
  • By default, primitives are not allowed to be null. Check the public properties below in this document to change this.
  • If you don't know the type, you may use
    Any
    as expected type. You may also omit the second parameter of
    @JsonProperty
    .

More about the array syntax

  • You can allow arrays by using the bracket notation combined with the types as seen above. For example:
    [String]
    for a string array
  • Mixing arrays is allowed. For example:
    [String, Number]
    for an array where the first entry is a string, the second is a number.
  • If the real array is longer than indicated here, the last type will be forced to the rest of the array entries (above:
    Number
    ).
  • This means,
    [String, Number]
    is equivalent to
    [String, Number, Number]
    and so on.
  • Nesting arrays and objects are allowed. For example:
    [[String, Number], User]
    .
  • This is equivalent to
    [[String, Number, Number], User, User]
    and so on.
  • As further example,
    [[String]]
    is equal to
    [[String],[String]]
    which is equal to
    [[String,String], [String,String]]
    and so on.
  • If an array has less elements as given in the expected type, no exception is thrown.
  • For example, if we define
    [String]
    or the equivalent
    [String, String]
    no exception is thrown - even if the JSON gives us an empty array.

Tip: See the examples at the end of this document for advanced examples for nesting arrays.

Custom converter decorators

In some cases, you may need to make custom conversion between JSON objects and TypeScript objects. You can define custom converters like this:

@JsonConverter
class DateConverter implements JsonCustomConvert {
    serialize(date: Date): any {
        return date.getFullYear() + "-" + (date.getMonth() + 1) + "-" +  date.getDate();
    }
    deserialize(date: any): Date {
        return new Date(date);
    }
}

Tip: Make sure that you import

JsonConverter
from
json2typescript
. Also don't forget to use the same type between the brackets
<>
, as the
serialize()
param and
deserialize()
return value.

Assume that in your JSON you have a date in a standardized format, such as

2017-07-19 10:00:00
. You could use the custom converter class above to make sure it is stored as a real TypeScript
Date
in your class. For your property, you simply have use the
@JsonProperty
decorator as follows:
@JsonObject("User")
export class User {
    @JsonProperty("date", DateConverter)
    date: Date = new Date();
}

With this approach, you will achieve that your property

date
is going to be a real instance of
Date
.

JsonConvert class properties and methods

Public properties

Operation mode

(number) JsonConvert.operationMode

Determines how the JsonConvert class instance should operate.

You may assign three different values: -

OperationMode.DISABLE
: json2typescript will be disabled, no type checking or mapping is done -
OperationMode.ENABLE
: json2typescript is enabled, but only errors are logged -
OperationMode.LOGGING
: json2typescript is enabled and detailed information is logged

The default value is

OperationMode.ENABLE
. It will only print errors to the console and is suited for production.

In some cases, you might consider disabling

json2typescript
in production by setting the
OperationMode.DISABLE
flag. This only works in case you only use plain objects without functionality and no mapping. However, disabling
json2typescript
might give you a performance advantage in heavy projects.

In case you have issues to find bugs, you can enable additional logging by setting the

OperationMode.LOGGING
flag. Please note that every serializing and deserializing is heavily logged to the console and will make your application slower. Never use this flag in production.

Tip: Make sure you import the

ENUM
OperationMode
when assigning a value to this property.

Value checking mode

(number) JsonConvert.valueCheckingMode

Determines which types are allowed to be null. You may assign three different values: *

ValueCheckingMode.ALLOW_NULL
: All given values can be null *
ValueCheckingMode.ALLOW_OBJECT_NULL
: Objects can be null, but primitive types cannot be null *
ValueCheckingMode.DISALLOW_NULL
: No null values are tolerated

The default is

ValueCheckingMode.ALLOW_OBJECT_NULL
.

Tip: Make sure you import the

ENUM
ValueCheckingMode
when assigning a value to this property.

Tip: The TypeScript documentation suggests to avoid null values. Compile your TypeScript code with

strictNullChecks=true
and set the
valueCheckingMode
to disallow null values. If your API returns
null
in some cases, simply mark these properties as optional in the corresponding
JsonProperty
decorator to avoid errors on runtime.

Ignore primitive checks

(bool) JsonConvert.ignorePrimitiveChecks

Determines whether primitive types should be checked. If true, it will be allowed to assign primitive to other primitive types.

The default is

false
.

Property matching rule

(number) JsonConvert.propertyMatchingRule

Determines the rule of how JSON properties shall be matched with class properties during deserialization. You may assign the following two values: *

PropertyMatchingRule.CASE_STRICT
: JSON properties need to match exactly the names in the decorators *
PropertyMatchingRule.CASE_INSENSITIVE
: JSON properties need to match names in the decorators, but names they are not case sensitive

The default is

PropertyMatchingRule.CASE_STRICT
.

Ignore required property checks

(bool) JsonConvert.ignoreRequiredCheck

Determines whether the check for required properties should be ignored, making all mapped values optional, whether or not the isOptional property mapping parameter is set. If true, any missing properties (undefined or null) when serializing or deserializing will be ignored, as if they were marked optional.
Note that properties explicitly set to null will be unaffected by this flag – they will be ignored if optional and included if not.

The default is

false
.

Public methods

json2typescript
allows you to map JSON objects (or arrays) to TypeScript objects (or arrays) and vice versa.

Serializing (TypeScript to JSON)

(any | any[]) serialize(data: any | any[], classReference?: { new(): T })

Tries to serialize a TypeScript object or array of objects to JSON.

Tip: The return value is not a string. In case you need a string as result, use

JSON.stringify()
after calling the serialize method.

You may optionally provide a class constructor to use the

@JsonProperty
mappings defined for that class to serialize the data object(s), instead of mappings defined on the data class. Note that if the data is an array, the mappings from the constructor class are used for all elements in the array. If no constructor is provided, the mappings from the data object class are used to serialize the data object(s).

Tip: This feature is helpful if you need to serialize an object that was not created using a class constructor, or if you want to serialize a subclass with only the properties of the superclass.

Deserializing (JSON to TypeScript)

(T | T[]) deserialize(json: any, classReference: { new(): T | T[] })

Tries to deserialize given JSON to a TypeScript object or array of objects.

Tip: The param

json
must not be a string, but an
object
or an
array
. Use
JSON.parse()
before applying the deserialize method in case you have a json string.

Other methods

The methods

serialize()
and
deserialize()
will automatically detect the dimension of your param (either object or array). In case you would like to force
json2typescript
to use a specific way, you can use the following methods instead: -
(any) serializeObject(instance: any, classReference?: { new(): T })
-
(any[]) serializeArray(instanceArray: any[], classReference?: { new(): T })
-
(T) deserializeObject(jsonObject: any, classReference: { new(): T })
-
(T[]) deserializeArray(jsonArray: any[], classReference: { new(): T })

Further examples

In case you don't have enough complex examples yet, you may find some more in this section.

Nesting arrays

It is heavily discouraged to use nested arrays and use different types in a JSON api. If you need them anyway, here is how you have to define the types:

1) Nested arrays with same type

In the following example,

jsonKeyOfWeirdKeywords
is a key in the JSON object defined like this:
{
    "jsonKeyOfWeirdKeywords": [
        ["Hello", "World"],
        ["Bye", "Earth"]
    ]
}

As we have an array of array of strings, you can define the expected type like this:

@JsonObject("User")
export class User {
    @JsonProperty("jsonKeyOfWeirdKeywords", [[String, String], [String, String]])
    keywords: any = undefined;
}

Tip: In our syntax,

[[String, String], [String, String]]
is equivalent to
[[String], [String]]
and
[[String]]
. That is because the last type in an array will be automatically repeated as much as needed.

2) Nested array with mixed depth and type

In the following example,

JSONKeyOfWeirdKeywords
is a key in the JSON object defined like this:
{
    "jsonKeyOfWeirdKeywords": [
        ["FC", "Basel"],
        1893
    ]
}

You can define the expected type in your class like this:

@JsonObject("User")
export class User {
    @JsonProperty("jsonKeyOfWeirdKeywords", [[String, String], Number])
    keywords: any = undefined;
}

Tip: In our syntax,

[[String, String], Number]
is equivalent to
[[String], Number]
.

Contributors

This NPM package was originally created in 2016 by Andreas Aeschlimann, software architect at his own company (AppVision GmbH) and scientific researcher at the Digital Humanities Lab (University of Basel).

Special thanks

You are welcome to report issues and discuss enhancements to make this package even more useful. Thanks for the input and all the pull requests from the community!

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