2.0.2 • Public • Published


Serialize objects while preserving references and custom class instances
Coded with ❤️ by Eleven Ways.

Table of contents

Version 2.x!

First of all: Version 2.x of json-dry is not able to parse output from version 1.x, if that output contains references! The way references are made & revived has changed completely.

All other syntax has remained the same.

If you did not use json-dry to store serialized objects long-term (so just on-the-fly, for communication) then it's probably safe to upgrade.


$ npm install json-dry


Basic example

This is a basic example of stringifying an object (containing multiple references to the same object) and parsing it again.

let Dry = require('json-dry');

// The object we'll serialize later
let obj = {};

// The object we'll make multiple references to
let ref = {
    date  : new Date(),
    regex : /test/i

// Now we'll make multiple references:
// `reference_one` and `reference_two` both point to the same object
// `date` refers to a `Date` object
obj.reference_one = ref;
obj.reference_two = ref;
obj.date = ref.date;

// Stringify the object
let dried = Dry.stringify(obj);
// {
//     "~refs": [
//         {
//             "date": {"~r": 1},
//             "regex": {
//                 "dry": "regexp",
//                 "value": "/test/i"
//             }
//         },
//         {
//             "dry": "date",
//             "value": "2023-01-14T12:00:35.194Z"
//         }
//     ],
//     "~root": {
//         "reference_one": {"~r": 0},
//         "reference_two": {"~r": 0},
//         "date": {"~r": 1}
//     }
// }

// Now we'll revive it again
let undried = Dry.parse(dried);
// { reference_one: { date: 2018-01-14T17:56:43.149Z, regex: /test/i },
//   reference_two: { date: 2018-01-14T17:56:43.149Z, regex: /test/i },
//   date: 2018-01-14T17:58:50.427Z }

// See if they're the same objects (as it should)
undried.reference_one == undried.reference_two;
// true

// The date outside of the reference object is also the same reference
undried.reference_one.date == undried.date;
// true

Implementing methods for serializing & reviving instances

Let's create an example class you might want to serialize and revive:

// The class constructor
function Person(options) {
    this.firstname = options.firstname;
    this.lastname = options.lastname;

// A simple method that prints out the full name
Person.prototype.fullname = function fullname() {
    return this.firstname + ' ' + this.lastname;

// Create an object
let jelle = new Person({firstname: 'Jelle', lastname: 'De Loecker'});

// Test out the fullname method
// returns "Jelle De Loecker"

So now we've created a very basic class, let's register the class and add the 2 required methods for serializing & reviving.

// We need to register the class

// Add the `toDry` method that will be called upon when serializing/stringifying
Person.prototype.toDry = function toDry() {
    return {
        value: {
            firstname : this.firstname,
            lastname  : this.lastname

// Now add the `unDry` method as a **static** method, on the constructor
Person.unDry = function unDry(value) {
    // How you do this is up to you.
    // You can call the constructor for this simple class,
    // or you can use Object.create, ...
    var result = new Person(value);
    return result;

Now let's try stringifying it:

let dried = Dry.stringify(jelle);
// {"value":{"firstname":"Jelle","lastname":"De Loecker"},"dry_class":"Person","dry":"toDry","drypath":[]}

// And parse it again
let undried = Dry.parse(dried);
// Person { firstname: 'Jelle', lastname: 'De Loecker' }

// And it works
// returns "Jelle De Loecker"

Serializing & reviving instances with circular references

Some classes contain references to each other, for example:

let alpha = new Alpha(),
    beta = new Beta();

alpha.beta = beta;
beta.alpha = alpha;

The problem is that when you serialize & then try to revive this, one of the unDry methods will receive an un-revived placeholder. This can obviously cause issues, especially when setting the property has side-effects. So a new argument whenDone has been added to the unDry method, like so:

Alpha.prototype.unDry = function unDry(obj, custom_method, whenDone) {

  let alpha = new Alpha();

  whenDone(function() {
    alpha.beta = obj.beta;

  return alpha;

whenDone functions will be called just before the Dry.undry() function exits, so all the references will have been revived by then.


While Dry.stringify will return you with a json-valid string, Dry.toObject will give you a valid simplified object.

In fact: Dry.stringify is just a function that performs JON.stringify on Dry.toObject's output.

Why would you want to use this? Things like Workers and IndexedDB communicate data using the structured clone algorithm. So instead of performing expensive stringify operations you can just use these objects.

Cloning objects & instances

JSON-Dry offers a specialized clone method. While in theory you could clone an object by drying end reviving it, like so:

let cloned = Dry.parse(Dry.toObject(jelle))

This is a lot slower than using clone, because toObject needs to do extra work that can be ignored when cloning:

let cloned = Dry.clone(jelle);

Clone methods

If you've added a toDry and unDry method to your class, by default the clone method will use those to create the clone.

However, you can also create another method that gets precedence:


Person.prototype.dryClone = function dryClone(seen_map, custom_method) {
    return new Person({
        firstname : this.firstname,
        lastname  : this.lastname

Custom clone methods

The clone method takes an extra parameter called custom_method. If you're cloning something that has a function property with the same name, that'll be used.

This can be used when you want to redact certain parts, for example:

Person.prototype.specialOccasionClone = function specialOccasionClone(seen_map, custom_method) {
    return new Person({
        firstname : this.firstname[0] + '.', // Only add the first letter of the name
        lastname  : this.lastname

let special_clone = Dry.clone(jelle, 'specialOccasionClone');
// Returns "J. De Loecker"

Project history

Earlier versions of the project were heavily based on circular-json, a small library that adds (circular) reference support to JSON.

A lot of the JavaScript code on my websites was already shared between the server & client side, but I also wanted an easy way of sending data to the client while retaining references & class instances, so I started adding features to circular-json and called it json-dry (dry as in don't repeat yourself).

The versions of json-dry before 2.0.0 used references to the path where the object was first seen, like ~paths~to~the~first~reference. Unfortunately sometimes objects were nested so deep that these reference paths were a lot longer than the serialized version of the object itself.

That's why in this new version, objects that are used more than once are stored in the ~refs array. This way all references to objects can be simple numbers, instead of paths.


We use SemVer for versioning. For the versions available, see the tags on this repository.


This project is licensed under the MIT License - see the LICENSE file for details

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