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Question Detail

I’m trying to parse JSON returned from a curl request, like so:

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' |
    sed -e 's/[{}]/''/g' | 
    awk -v k="text" '{n=split($0,a,","); for (i=1; i<=n; i++) print a[i]}'

The above splits the JSON into fields, for example:

% ...
"geo_enabled":false
"friends_count":245
"profile_text_color":"000000"
"status":"in_reply_to_screen_name":null
"source":"web"
"truncated":false
"text":"My status"
"favorited":false
% ...

How do I print a specific field (denoted by the -v k=text)?

Question Answer

There are a number of tools specifically designed for the purpose of manipulating JSON from the command line, and will be a lot easier and more reliable than doing it with Awk, such as jq:

curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | jq -r '.name'

You can also do this with tools that are likely already installed on your system, like Python using the json module, and so avoid any extra dependencies, while still having the benefit of a proper JSON parser. The following assume you want to use UTF-8, which the original JSON should be encoded in and is what most modern terminals use as well:

Python 3:

curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | \
    python3 -c "import sys, json; print(json.load(sys.stdin)['name'])"

Python 2:

export PYTHONIOENCODING=utf8
curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | \
    python2 -c "import sys, json; print json.load(sys.stdin)['name']"

Frequently Asked Questions

Why not a pure shell solution?

The standard POSIX/Single Unix Specification shell is a very limited language which doesn’t contain facilities for representing sequences (list or arrays) or associative arrays (also known as hash tables, maps, dicts, or objects in some other languages). This makes representing the result of parsing JSON somewhat tricky in portable shell scripts. There are somewhat hacky ways to do it, but many of them can break if keys or values contain certain special characters.

Bash 4 and later, zsh, and ksh have support for arrays and associative arrays, but these shells are not universally available (macOS stopped updating Bash at Bash 3, due to a change from GPLv2 to GPLv3, while many Linux systems don’t have zsh installed out of the box). It’s possible that you could write a script that would work in either Bash 4 or zsh, one of which is available on most macOS, Linux, and BSD systems these days, but it would be tough to write a shebang line that worked for such a polyglot script.

Finally, writing a full fledged JSON parser in shell would be a significant enough dependency that you might as well just use an existing dependency like jq or Python instead. It’s not going to be a one-liner, or even small five-line snippet, to do a good implementation.

Why not use awk, sed, or grep?

It is possible to use these tools to do some quick extraction from JSON with a known shape and formatted in a known way, such as one key per line. There are several examples of suggestions for this in other answers.

However, these tools are designed for line based or record based formats; they are not designed for recursive parsing of matched delimiters with possible escape characters.

So these quick and dirty solutions using awk/sed/grep are likely to be fragile, and break if some aspect of the input format changes, such as collapsing whitespace, or adding additional levels of nesting to the JSON objects, or an escaped quote within a string. A solution that is robust enough to handle all JSON input without breaking will also be fairly large and complex, and so not too much different than adding another dependency on jq or Python.

I have had to deal with large amounts of customer data being deleted due to poor input parsing in a shell script before, so I never recommend quick and dirty methods that may be fragile in this way. If you’re doing some one-off processing, see the other answers for suggestions, but I still highly recommend just using an existing tested JSON parser.

Historical notes

This answer originally recommended jsawk, which should still work, but is a little more cumbersome to use than jq, and depends on a standalone JavaScript interpreter being installed which is less common than a Python interpreter, so the above answers are probably preferable:

curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | jsawk -a 'return this.name'

This answer also originally used the Twitter API from the question, but that API no longer works, making it hard to copy the examples to test out, and the new Twitter API requires API keys, so I’ve switched to using the GitHub API which can be used easily without API keys. The first answer for the original question would be:

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | jq -r '.text'

To quickly extract the values for a particular key, I personally like to use “grep -o”, which only returns the regex’s match. For example, to get the “text” field from tweets, something like:

grep -Po '"text":.*?[^\\]",' tweets.json

This regex is more robust than you might think; for example, it deals fine with strings having embedded commas and escaped quotes inside them. I think with a little more work you could make one that is actually guaranteed to extract the value, if it’s atomic. (If it has nesting, then a regex can’t do it of course.)

And to further clean (albeit keeping the string’s original escaping) you can use something like: | perl -pe 's/"text"://; s/^"//; s/",$//'. (I did this for this analysis.)

To all the haters who insist you should use a real JSON parser — yes, that is essential for correctness, but

  1. To do a really quick analysis, like counting values to check on data cleaning bugs or get a general feel for the data, banging out something on the command line is faster. Opening an editor to write a script is distracting.
  2. grep -o is orders of magnitude faster than the Python standard json library, at least when doing this for tweets (which are ~2 KB each). I’m not sure if this is just because json is slow (I should compare to yajl sometime); but in principle, a regex should be faster since it’s finite state and much more optimizable, instead of a parser that has to support recursion, and in this case, spends lots of CPU building trees for structures you don’t care about. (If someone wrote a finite state transducer that did proper (depth-limited) JSON parsing, that would be fantastic! In the meantime we have “grep -o”.)

To write maintainable code, I always use a real parsing library. I haven’t tried jsawk, but if it works well, that would address point #1.

One last, wackier, solution: I wrote a script that uses Python json and extracts the keys you want, into tab-separated columns; then I pipe through a wrapper around awk that allows named access to columns. In here: the json2tsv and tsvawk scripts. So for this example it would be:

json2tsv id text < tweets.json | tsvawk '{print "tweet " $id " is: " $text}'

This approach doesn’t address #2, is more inefficient than a single Python script, and it’s a little brittle: it forces normalization of newlines and tabs in string values, to play nice with awk’s field/record-delimited view of the world. But it does let you stay on the command line, with more correctness than grep -o.

On the basis that some of the recommendations here (especially in the comments) suggested the use of Python, I was disappointed not to find an example.

So, here’s a one-liner to get a single value from some JSON data. It assumes that you are piping the data in (from somewhere) and so should be useful in a scripting context.

echo '{"hostname":"test","domainname":"example.com"}' | python -c 'import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print obj["hostname"]'

Following martinr’s and Boecko’s lead:

curl -s 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | python -mjson.tool

That will give you an extremely grep-friendly output. Very convenient:

curl -s 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | python -mjson.tool | grep my_key

You could just download jq binary for your platform and run (chmod +x jq):

$ curl 'https://twitter.com/users/username.json' | ./jq -r '.name'

It extracts "name" attribute from the json object.

jq homepage says it is like sed for JSON data.

Using Node.js

If the system has Node.js installed, it’s possible to use the -p print and -e evaluate script flags with JSON.parse to pull out any value that is needed.

A simple example using the JSON string { "foo": "bar" } and pulling out the value of “foo”:

node -pe 'JSON.parse(process.argv[1]).foo' '{ "foo": "bar" }'

Output:

bar

Because we have access to cat and other utilities, we can use this for files:

node -pe 'JSON.parse(process.argv[1]).foo' "$(cat foobar.json)"

Output:

bar

Or any other format such as an URL that contains JSON:

node -pe 'JSON.parse(process.argv[1]).name' "$(curl -s https://api.github.com/users/trevorsenior)"

Output:

Trevor Senior

Use Python’s JSON support instead of using AWK!

Something like this:

curl -s http://twitter.com/users/username.json | \
    python -c "import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print(obj['name']);"

macOS v12.3 (Monterey) removed /usr/bin/python, so we must use /usr/bin/python3 for macOS v12.3 and later.

curl -s http://twitter.com/users/username.json | \
    python3 -c "import json,sys;obj=json.load(sys.stdin);print(obj['name']);"

You’ve asked how to shoot yourself in the foot and I’m here to provide the ammo:

curl -s 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | sed -e 's/[{}]/''/g' | awk -v RS=',"' -F: '/^text/ {print $2}'

You could use tr -d '{}' instead of sed. But leaving them out completely seems to have the desired effect as well.

If you want to strip off the outer quotes, pipe the result of the above through sed 's/\(^"\|"$\)//g'

I think others have sounded sufficient alarm. I’ll be standing by with a cell phone to call an ambulance. Fire when ready.

Using Bash with Python

Create a Bash function in your .bashrc file:

function getJsonVal () {
    python -c "import json,sys;sys.stdout.write(json.dumps(json.load(sys.stdin)$1))";
}

Then

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | getJsonVal "['text']"

Output:

My status

Here is the same function, but with error checking.

function getJsonVal() {
   if [ \( $# -ne 1 \) -o \( -t 0 \) ]; then
       cat <<EOF
Usage: getJsonVal 'key' < /tmp/
 -- or --
 cat /tmp/input | getJsonVal 'key'
EOF
       return;
   fi;
   python -c "import json,sys;sys.stdout.write(json.dumps(json.load(sys.stdin)$1))";
}

Where $# -ne 1 makes sure at least 1 input, and -t 0 make sure you are redirecting from a pipe.

The nice thing about this implementation is that you can access nested JSON values and get JSON content in return! =)

Example:

echo '{"foo": {"bar": "baz", "a": [1,2,3]}}' |  getJsonVal "['foo']['a'][1]"

Output:

2

If you want to be really fancy, you could pretty print the data:

function getJsonVal () {
    python -c "import json,sys;sys.stdout.write(json.dumps(json.load(sys.stdin)$1, sort_keys=True, indent=4))";
}

echo '{"foo": {"bar": "baz", "a": [1,2,3]}}' |  getJsonVal "['foo']"
{
    "a": [
        1,
        2,
        3
    ],
    "bar": "baz"
}

Update (2020)

My biggest issue with external tools (e.g., Python) was that you have to deal with package managers and dependencies to install them.

However, now that we have jq as a standalone, static tool that’s easy to install cross-platform via GitHub Releases and Webi (webinstall.dev/jq), I’d recommend that:

Mac, Linux:

curl -sS https://webinstall.dev/jq | bash

Windows 10:

curl.exe -A MS https://webinstall.dev/jq | powershell

Cheat Sheet: https://webinstall.dev/jq

Original (2011)

TickTick is a JSON parser written in bash (less than 250 lines of code).

Here’s the author’s snippet from his article, Imagine a world where Bash supports JSON:

#!/bin/bash
. ticktick.sh

``
  people = {
    "Writers": [
      "Rod Serling",
      "Charles Beaumont",
      "Richard Matheson"
    ],
    "Cast": {
      "Rod Serling": { "Episodes": 156 },
      "Martin Landau": { "Episodes": 2 },
      "William Shatner": { "Episodes": 2 }
    }
  }
``

function printDirectors() {
  echo "  The ``people.Directors.length()`` Directors are:"

  for director in ``people.Directors.items()``; do
    printf "    - %s\n" ${!director}
  done
}

`` people.Directors = [ "John Brahm", "Douglas Heyes" ] ``
printDirectors

newDirector="Lamont Johnson"
`` people.Directors.push($newDirector) ``
printDirectors

echo "Shifted: "``people.Directors.shift()``
printDirectors

echo "Popped: "``people.Directors.pop()``
printDirectors

This is using standard Unix tools available on most distributions. It also works well with backslashes (\) and quotes (“).

Warning: This doesn’t come close to the power of jq and will only work with very simple JSON objects. It’s an attempt to answer to the original question and in situations where you can’t install additional tools.

function parse_json()
{
    echo $1 | \
    sed -e 's/[{}]/''/g' | \
    sed -e 's/", "/'\",\"'/g' | \
    sed -e 's/" ,"/'\",\"'/g' | \
    sed -e 's/" , "/'\",\"'/g' | \
    sed -e 's/","/'\"---SEPERATOR---\"'/g' | \
    awk -F=':' -v RS='---SEPERATOR---' "\$1~/\"$2\"/ {print}" | \
    sed -e "s/\"$2\"://" | \
    tr -d "\n\t" | \
    sed -e 's/\\"/"/g' | \
    sed -e 's/\\\\/\\/g' | \
    sed -e 's/^[ \t]*//g' | \
    sed -e 's/^"//'  -e 's/"$//'
}


parse_json '{"username":"john, doe","email":"[email protected]"}' username
parse_json '{"username":"john doe","email":"[email protected]"}' email

--- outputs ---

john, doe
[email protected]

Parsing JSON with PHP CLI

It is arguably off-topic, but since precedence reigns, this question remains incomplete without a mention of our trusty and faithful PHP, am I right?

It is using the same example JSON, but letโ€™s assign it to a variable to reduce obscurity.

export JSON='{"hostname":"test","domainname":"example.com"}'

Now for PHP goodness, it is using file_get_contents and the php://stdin stream wrapper.

echo $JSON | php -r 'echo json_decode(file_get_contents("php://stdin"))->hostname;'

Or as pointed out using fgets and the already opened stream at CLI constant STDIN.

echo $JSON | php -r 'echo json_decode(fgets(STDIN))->hostname;'

If someone just wants to extract values from simple JSON objects without the need for nested structures, it is possible to use regular expressions without even leaving Bash.

Here is a function I defined using bash regular expressions based on the JSON standard:

function json_extract() {
  local key=$1
  local json=$2

  local string_regex='"([^"\]|\\.)*"'
  local number_regex='-?(0|[1-9][0-9]*)(\.[0-9]+)?([eE][+-]?[0-9]+)?'
  local value_regex="${string_regex}|${number_regex}|true|false|null"
  local pair_regex="\"${key}\"[[:space:]]*:[[:space:]]*(${value_regex})"

  if [[ ${json} =~ ${pair_regex} ]]; then
    echo $(sed 's/^"\|"$//g' <<< "${BASH_REMATCH[1]}")
  else
    return 1
  fi
}

Caveats: objects and arrays are not supported as values, but all other value types defined in the standard are supported. Also, a pair will be matched no matter how deep in the JSON document it is as long as it has exactly the same key name.

Using the OP’s example:

$ json_extract text "$(curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json')"
My status

$ json_extract friends_count "$(curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json')"
245

Version which uses Ruby and http://flori.github.com/json/

< file.json ruby -e "require 'rubygems'; require 'json'; puts JSON.pretty_generate(JSON[STDIN.read]);"

Or more concisely:

< file.json ruby -r rubygems -r json -e "puts JSON.pretty_generate(JSON[STDIN.read]);"

Unfortunately the top voted answer that uses grep returns the full match that didn’t work in my scenario, but if you know the JSON format will remain constant you can use lookbehind and lookahead to extract just the desired values.

# echo '{"TotalPages":33,"FooBar":"he\"llo","anotherValue":100}' | grep -Po '(?<="FooBar":")(.*?)(?=",)'
he\"llo
# echo '{"TotalPages":33,"FooBar":"he\"llo","anotherValue":100}' | grep -Po '(?<="TotalPages":)(.*?)(?=,)'
33
#  echo '{"TotalPages":33,"FooBar":"he\"llo","anotherValue":100}' | grep -Po '(?<="anotherValue":)(.*?)(?=})'
100

There is an easier way to get a property from a JSON string. Using a package.json file as an example, try this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
my_val="$(json=$(<package.json) node -pe "JSON.parse(process.env.json)['version']")"

We’re using process.env, because this gets the file’s contents into Node.js as a string without any risk of malicious contents escaping their quoting and being parsed as code.

This is yet another Bash and Python hybrid answer. I posted this answer, because I wanted to process more complex JSON output, but, reducing the complexity of my bash application. I want to crack open the following JSON object from http://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/info?f=json in Bash:

{
  "owningSystemUrl": "http://www.arcgis.com",
  "authInfo": {
    "tokenServicesUrl": "https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken",
    "isTokenBasedSecurity": true
  }
}

In the following example, I created my own implementation of jq and unquote leveraging Python. You’ll note that once we import the Python object from json to a Python dictionary we can use Python syntax to navigate the dictionary. To navigate the above, the syntax is:

  • data
  • data[ "authInfo" ]
  • data[ "authInfo" ][ "tokenServicesUrl" ]

By using magic in Bash, we omit data and only supply the Python text to the right of data, i.e.

  • jq
  • jq '[ "authInfo" ]'
  • jq '[ "authInfo" ][ "tokenServicesUrl" ]'

Note, with no parameters, jq acts as a JSON prettifier. With parameters, we can use Python syntax to extract anything we want from the dictionary including navigating subdictionaries and array elements.

Here are the Bash Python hybrid functions:

#!/bin/bash -xe

jq_py() {
  cat <<EOF
import json, sys
data = json.load( sys.stdin )
print( json.dumps( data$1, indent = 4 ) )
EOF
}

jq() {
  python -c "$( jq_py "$1" )"
}

unquote_py() {
  cat <<EOF
import json,sys
print( json.load( sys.stdin ) )
EOF
}

unquote() {
  python -c "$( unquote_py )"
}

Here’s a sample usage of the Bash Python functions:

curl http://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/info?f=json | tee arcgis.json
# {"owningSystemUrl":"https://www.arcgis.com","authInfo":{"tokenServicesUrl":"https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken","isTokenBasedSecurity":true}}

cat arcgis.json | jq
# {
#     "owningSystemUrl": "https://www.arcgis.com",
#     "authInfo": {
#         "tokenServicesUrl": "https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken",
#         "isTokenBasedSecurity": true
#     }
# }

cat arcgis.json | jq '[ "authInfo" ]'
# {
#     "tokenServicesUrl": "https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken",
#     "isTokenBasedSecurity": true
# }

cat arcgis.json | jq '[ "authInfo" ][ "tokenServicesUrl" ]'
# "https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken"

cat arcgis.json | jq '[ "authInfo" ][ "tokenServicesUrl" ]' | unquote
# https://www.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/generateToken

Now that PowerShell is cross platform, I thought I’d throw its way out there, since I find it to be fairly intuitive and extremely simple.

curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | ConvertFrom-Json

ConvertFrom-Json converts the JSON into a PowerShell custom object, so you can easily work with the properties from that point forward. If you only wanted the ‘id’ property for example, you’d just do this:

curl -s 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | ConvertFrom-Json | select -ExpandProperty id

If you wanted to invoke the whole thing from within Bash, then you’d have to call it like this:

powershell 'curl -s "https://api.github.com/users/lambda" | ConvertFrom-Json'

Of course, there’s a pure PowerShell way to do it without curl, which would be:

Invoke-WebRequest 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | select -ExpandProperty Content | ConvertFrom-Json

Finally, there’s also ConvertTo-Json which converts a custom object to JSON just as easily. Here’s an example:

(New-Object PsObject -Property @{ Name = "Tester"; SomeList = @('one','two','three')}) | ConvertTo-Json

Which would produce nice JSON like this:

{
"Name":  "Tester",
"SomeList":  [
                 "one",
                 "two",
                 "three"
             ]

}

Admittedly, using a Windows shell on Unix is somewhat sacrilegious, but PowerShell is really good at some things, and parsing JSON and XML are a couple of them. This is the GitHub page for the cross platform version: PowerShell

I can not use any of the answers here. Neither jq, shell arrays, declare, grep -P, lookbehind, lookahead, Python, Perl, Ruby, or even Bash, is available.

The remaining answers simply do not work well. JavaScript sounded familiar, but the tin says Nescaffe – so it is a no go, too ๐Ÿ™‚ Even if available, for my simple needs – they would be overkill and slow.

Yet, it is extremely important for me to get many variables from the JSON formatted reply of my modem. I am doing it in Bourne shell (sh) with a very trimmed down BusyBox at my routers! There aren’t any problems using AWK alone: just set delimiters and read the data. For a single variable, that is all!

awk 'BEGIN { FS="\""; RS="," }; { if ($2 == "login") {print $4} }' test.json

Remember I don’t have any arrays? I had to assign within the AWK parsed data to the 11 variables which I need in a shell script. Wherever I looked, that was said to be an impossible mission. No problem with that, either.

My solution is simple. This code will:

  1. parse .json file from the question (actually, I have borrowed a working data sample from the most upvoted answer) and picked out the quoted data, plus

  2. create shell variables from within the awk assigning free named shell variable names.

    eval $( curl -s ‘https://api.github.com/users/lambda’ |
    awk ‘ BEGIN { FS=”””; RS=”,” };
    {
    if ($2 == “login”) { print “Login=””$4″”” }
    if ($2 == “name”) { print “Name=””$4″”” }
    if ($2 == “updated_at”) { print “Updated=””$4″”” }
    }’ )
    echo “$Login, $Name, $Updated”

There aren’t any problems with blanks within. In my use, the same command parses a long single line output. As eval is used, this solution is suited for trusted data only.

It is simple to adapt it to pickup unquoted data. For a huge number of variables, a marginal speed gain can be achieved using else if. Lack of arrays obviously means: no multiple records without extra fiddling. But where arrays are available, adapting this solution is a simple task.

@maikel’s sed answer almost works (but I can not comment on it). For my nicely formatted data – it works. Not so much with the example used here (missing quotes throw it off). It is complicated and difficult to modify. Plus, I do not like having to make 11 calls to extract 11 variables. Why? I timed 100 loops extracting 9 variables: the sed function took 48.99 seconds and my solution took 0.91 second! Not fair? Doing just a single extraction of 9 variables: 0.51 vs. 0.02 second.

You can try something like this –

curl -s 'http://twitter.com/users/jaypalsingh.json' | 
awk -F=":" -v RS="," '$1~/"text"/ {print}'

Someone who also has XML files, might want to look at my Xidel. It is a command-line interface, dependency-free JSONiq processor. (I.e., it also supports XQuery for XML or JSON processing.)

The example in the question would be:

 xidel -e 'json("http://twitter.com/users/username.json")("name")'

Or with my own, nonstandard extension syntax:

 xidel -e 'json("http://twitter.com/users/username.json").name'

You can use jshon:

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | jshon -e text

One interesting tool that hasn’t be covered in the existing answers is using gron written in Go which has a tagline that says Make JSON greppable! which is exactly what it does.

So essentially gron breaks down your JSON into discrete assignments see the absolute ‘path’ to it. The primary advantage of it over other tools like jq would be to allow searching for the value without knowing how nested the record to search is present at, without breaking the original JSON structure

e.g., I want to search for the 'twitter_username' field from the following link, I just do

% gron 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | fgrep 'twitter_username'
json.twitter_username = "unlambda";
% gron 'https://api.github.com/users/lambda' | fgrep 'twitter_username' | gron -u
{
  "twitter_username": "unlambda"
}

As simple as that. Note how the gron -u (short for ungron) reconstructs the JSON back from the search path. The need for fgrep is just to filter your search to the paths needed and not let the search expression be evaluated as a regex, but as a fixed string (which is essentially grep -F)

Another example to search for a string to see where in the nested structure the record is under

% echo '{"foo":{"bar":{"zoo":{"moo":"fine"}}}}' | gron | fgrep "fine"
json.foo.bar.zoo.moo = "fine";

It also supports streaming JSON with its -s command line flag, where you can continuously gron the input stream for a matching record. Also gron has zero runtime dependencies. You can download a binary for Linux, Mac, Windows or FreeBSD and run it.

More usage examples and trips can be found at the official Github page – Advanced Usage

As for why you one can use gron over other JSON parsing tools, see from author’s note from the project page.

Why shouldn’t I just use jq?

jq is awesome, and a lot more powerful than gron, but with that power comes complexity. gron aims to make it easier to use the tools you already know, like grep and sed.

Here’s one way you can do it with AWK:

curl -sL 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | awk -F"," -v k="text" '{
    gsub(/{|}/,"")
    for(i=1;i<=NF;i++){
        if ( $i ~ k ){
            print $i
        }
    }
}'

For more complex JSON parsing, I suggest using the Python jsonpath module (by Stefan Goessner) –

  1. Install it –

    sudo easy_install -U jsonpath
    
  2. Use it –

    Example file.json (from http://goessner.net/articles/JsonPath) –

    { "store": {
        "book": [
          { "category": "reference",
            "author": "Nigel Rees",
            "title": "Sayings of the Century",
            "price": 8.95
          },
          { "category": "fiction",
            "author": "Evelyn Waugh",
            "title": "Sword of Honour",
            "price": 12.99
          },
          { "category": "fiction",
            "author": "Herman Melville",
            "title": "Moby Dick",
            "isbn": "0-553-21311-3",
            "price": 8.99
          },
          { "category": "fiction",
            "author": "J. R. R. Tolkien",
            "title": "The Lord of the Rings",
            "isbn": "0-395-19395-8",
            "price": 22.99
          }
        ],
        "bicycle": {
          "color": "red",
          "price": 19.95
        }
      }
    }
    

    Parse it (extract all book titles with price < 10) –

    cat file.json | python -c "import sys, json, jsonpath; print '\n'.join(jsonpath.jsonpath(json.load(sys.stdin), 'store.book[?(@.price < 10)].title'))"
    

    Will output –

    Sayings of the Century
    Moby Dick
    

    Note: The above command line does not include error checking. For a full solution with error checking, you should create a small Python script, and wrap the code with try-except.

If you have the PHP interpreter installed:

php -r 'var_export(json_decode(`curl http://twitter.com/users/username.json`, 1));'

For example:

We have a resource that provides JSON content with countries’ ISO codes: http://country.io/iso3.json and we can easily see it in a shell with curl:

curl http://country.io/iso3.json

But it looks not very convenient, and not readable. Better parse the JSON content and see a readable structure:

php -r 'var_export(json_decode(`curl http://country.io/iso3.json`, 1));'

This code will print something like:

array (
  'BD' => 'BGD',
  'BE' => 'BEL',
  'BF' => 'BFA',
  'BG' => 'BGR',
  'BA' => 'BIH',
  'BB' => 'BRB',
  'WF' => 'WLF',
  'BL' => 'BLM',
  ...

If you have nested arrays this output will looks much better…

There is also a very simple, but powerful, JSON CLI processing tool, fx.

Examples

Use an anonymous function:

echo '{"key": "value"}' | fx "x => x.key"

Output:

value

If you don’t pass anonymous function parameter โ†’ …, code will be automatically transformed into an anonymous function. And you can get access to JSON by this keyword:

$ echo '[1,2,3]' | fx "this.map(x => x * 2)"
[2, 4, 6]

Or just use dot syntax too:

echo '{"items": {"one": 1}}' | fx .items.one

Output:

1

You can pass any number of anonymous functions for reducing JSON:

echo '{"items": ["one", "two"]}' | fx "this.items" "this[1]"

Output:

two

You can update existing JSON using spread operator:

echo '{"count": 0}' | fx "{...this, count: 1}"

Output:

{"count": 1}

Just plain JavaScript. There isn’t any need to learn new syntax.


Later version of fx has an interactive mode! –

This is a good usecase for pythonpy:

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | py 'json.load(sys.stdin)["name"]'

Here is a good reference. In this case:

curl 'http://twitter.com/users/username.json' | sed -e 's/[{}]/''/g' | awk -v k="text" '{n=split($0,a,","); for (i=1; i<=n; i++) { where = match(a[i], /\"text\"/); if(where) {print a[i]} }  }'

If pip is avaiable on the system then:

$ pip install json-query

Examples of usage:

$ curl -s http://0/file.json | json-query
{
    "key":"value"    
}

$ curl -s http://0/file.json | json-query my.key
value

$ curl -s http://0/file.json | json-query my.keys.
key_1
key_2
key_3

$ curl -s http://0/file.json | json-query my.keys.2
value_2

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