Nature Preceded Machines


    1.0.4 • Public • Published


    npm install -g node-fn-query

    cat example.json | jq -c .[] | nq '({eyeColor}) => eyeColor' # all eye color results
    cat example.json | jq -c .[] | nq --filter '({favoriteFruit}) => favoriteFruit === "banana"' # filtered objects
    cat example.json | jq -c .[] | nq --reduce [] '(acc, {friends}) => acc.concat(friends)' | jq -c .[] | nq '_.get("id")' | sort | uniq # list of unique friend ids. _ is lodash/fp

    why? jq needs a friend

    I know there are people out there who have learned how to write complex jq programs, and are even later able to read the programs that they've written. jq is an amazing, wonderful, life-saving tool, but because I only need it every few weeks, I have major problems remembering the syntax, and I'll often need to leave the shell to deal with more complex JSON. Leaving the shell when you're in the middle of writing a pipeline or exploring some data is a real shame!

    I've finally given up hope of ever learning jq properly, so instead I've started using jq to munge data into a workable state, and then manipulating it with nodejs functions. The core of the code to make that happen is simple:

    #!/usr/bin/env node
    const fn = eval([], 2).join(" "));
      .createInterface({ input: process.stdin })
      .on("line", (v) => console.log(fn(JSON.parse(v))));

    Just those few lines of code stuck somewhere appropriate in your PATH can make it much easier to manipulate JSON! It's incredibly freeing to not need to look anything up or leave the shell when you have a JSON problem.


    nq --help

    nq only reads stdin line by line, so you'll almost always need to use jq --compact (or jq -c) to deal with objects, or jq -c .[] (to iterate through an array) to get data into an nq compatible format.

    The default mode is mapping over the input values: seq 1 100 | nq 'n => n * n', but you can change that to either reduce the values or filter the values.

    • --reduce (-r) allows you to reduce stdin to a single value. It takes a value as its second parameter:
      • seq 1 100 | nq -r 0 '(sum, n) => sum + n' # returns the sum
      • seq 1 20 | nq -r [] '(acc, n) => acc.concat(n)' # sticks the input into an array
    • --filter (-f) allows to filter stdin:
      • seq 1 100 | nq -f '(n) => n % 2' # prints odd numbers

    By default, nq attempts to JSON.parse the input values & JSON.stringify the output values:

    • --string-input (-i): don't JSON.parse input lines. Useful if you want to use this to process strings
    • --raw-output (-o): don't JSON.stringify output lines. Useful if you want to feed string values into another shell script

    lodash is included, and by default functional-style lodash/fp is available as _. The more functional lodash style lends itself to writing nq '_.get(["key", 0])' rather than the slightly more verbose nq '(v) => _.get(v, ["key", 0])'.

    • not-fp: _ will be regular lodash rather than lodash/fp.

    • this will be a consistent object that starts as {}. Using this to store state is generally a sign that you should be reducing OR using a more fully-fleshed tool instead.


    For more complex examples, let's take a look at some of the highest upvoted jq stackoverflow questions and answer them using nq.

    1. How to filter an array based on a key of an object?

    Given an array of objects with locations, how do we filter them by one of their properties?

    • jq: jq '.[] | select(.location=="Stockholm")'
    • nq: nq -f '({location}) => location === "Stockholm"'
    1. How to filter an array based on value in inner array?

    Given data with a shape of Array<{Id: string, Names: string[]}>, filter Id based on the presence of a string containing "data" in the Names array.

    • jq: jq -r '. - map(select(.Names[] | contains ("data"))) | .[] .Id'
    • nq: jq -c .[] | nq --filter '({Names}) => Names.every((n) => !n.includes("data"))' | nq -o '({Id}) => Id'
    • nq with a lodash functional style: nq --filter '_.flow( _.get("Names"), _.find(n => !n.match(/data/)) )' | nq -o '_.get("Id"))
    1. How to format multiple fields from a JSON document into a single string?

    Given data that looks like {users: Array<{first: string, last: string}>}, output ${first} ${last}

    • jq: jq -r '.users[] | "\(.first) \(.last)"'
    • nq: jq -c .users[] | nq -o '({first, last}) => `${first} ${last}`'

    Note that for all of these cases, jq is much more terse, is required for nq to even do anything at all, and if we were processing a significant amount of data, I'd expect jq to be much faster. nq is worse than jq in every way except offering familiar nodejs syntax, but familiar syntax is a big deal!


    npm i node-fn-query

    DownloadsWeekly Downloads






    Unpacked Size

    7.92 kB

    Total Files


    Last publish


    • kelwill