What is JSON?

JSON written on computer image with file images.

Whether you’re checking the weather, looking at the latest football scores, or keeping up with your friend’s summer vacation, your web services use communication to make it happen. When you input a command, your app (client) communicates with a server to exchange data and get you what you need. Programmers must figure out effective and efficient ways to make these data transfers possible and a popular way to do so is with JavaScript Object Notation or JSON.

JSON Explained

JSON is a text-based standard format used to store and exchange information between clients and servers in web applications. It uses key-value pairs to organize the data in a hierarchical structure. The JSON format was introduced in the early 2000s as an alternative to XML, the preferred data interchange format in those years. Since then, it has surpassed XML in popularity due to its:

  • Readability
  • Flexibility
  • Wide support across different platforms and programming languages

When faced with the question, “What is JSON?” it’s important to understand just how simple this format is. So, let’s think of the data interchange format as a form that you’d fill out at the doctor’s office. It has columns where you’ll fill out details about yourself, including your name, age, address, etc. In its key-value pair format, that information may look something like this:

Green JSON code written on navy blue background

The column on the left represents the key and the “answers” on the right represent the value. In that example, the syntax rules (rules that govern the structure) are symbolized as follows:

  • Braces { } hold objects
  • Name-value pairs are internally separated by colons :
  • Each name-value pair is distinguished and split from other pairs using commas ,

While this representation is JSON in its simplest forms, it aids in understanding the format’s simple and readable way to organize data, similar to filling out a doctor’s visit form.

Where JSON is Used

JSON is most commonly used when online forms are filled out — from a simple search query to a large job application. The data you input on the form is typically HTML, which is then converted to JavaScript objects, and then finally turned into JSON objects. Once that process is complete, the data is sent to a web server where it is processed into the action you need. Web services that share data with other applications, such as Facebook, Spotify, and Google, are much more likely to use the JSON format.

Some less-common uses of this data interchange format include:

  • Data storage for NoSQL databases such as MongoDB.
  • Military and industrial applications in which JSON can be used to control systems remotely.
  • Machine learning, where the data interchange format can be used to represent training data, model parameters, and prediction results.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices, in which JSON can transmit data over a network to expedite and simplify data analyzation by other devices or software applications.
  • Configuration files for software applications that require data to be easily loaded and parsed at runtime.

Why is Learning It Essential?

Over the years, this data interchange format has become the de facto standard for data interchange in web applications. Corporations ranging in size value knowledge of JSON and consider it an essential skill for anyone entering the web development job market. Simply put, if you’re entering the world of tech with JSON under your belt, you’ll likely be at an advantage with your competition. Other reasons why learning it is important include:

  • Frontend Development

    JSON is used in modern frontend development frameworks and libraries including JavaScript, React, Angular, and Node.js.

  • Backend Development

    JSON is used in data serialization in backend development. It gives developers the ability to store, retrieve, and manipulate data using a structured and flexible format.

  • Full-stack Development

    Because JSON is utilized in frontend and backend development, it’s also an essential skill for full-stack developers. This format is crucial for data interchange between the frontend and backend components of a web application.

JSON is also used by a wide range or tech experts who value the data interchange format’s simplicity and flexibility. By learning it, you’ll be equipped to take on different roles, including web developer, software developer, data analyst, and machine learning developer, just to name a few.

Learn JSON Skills in a Kenzie Academy Program

If you’re considering a career in tech, learning JSON should be one of your top priorities. By acquiring these skills, understanding its concepts, and putting them into practice, you’ll equip yourself with the type of experience that can turn heads and put you that much closer to your first tech job. In the Kenzie Academy program from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), you can take the first step toward learning JSON and other essential skills.

The Kenzie Academy Software Engineering Certificate with Specialization in Backend Java is designed to guide you through software engineering fundamentals and into the job-seeking process. Through hands-on training and a collaborative approach, you’ll learn concepts including:

  • The Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
  • Java
  • JSON and CSV data formats
  • DynamoDB
  • API Design

Whether you’re new to the world of tech or a tech enthusiast looking to materialize a future in one of the leading industries, Kenzie Academy from SNHU can help. Apply today and get started.

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