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SJOT: Schemas for JSON Objects

Schemas for JSON Objects, or simply SJOT, offers faster JSON validation and type checking with lightweight schemas and compact validators. SJOT schemas have the look and feel of object templates and are easy to use.

Live demo SJOT validator, schema converters and snapSJOT creator.


npm install sjot


  • Use SJOT to efficiently validate and type-check JSON and JS values with compact types and schemas. SJOT schemas are compact and have the look-and-feel of JSON templates.

  • JSON validation with SJOT.valid(data, typeref, schema) and SJOT.validate(data, typeref, schema) is fast: the worst-case running time is asymptotically linear in the size of the JSON value to validate.

  • Type check JSON and JS values with SJOT.valid(data, type).

  • SJOT.check(schema) verifies a schema and its satisfiability, so you never have to worry about schemas with conflicting one/any/all/dep constraints that reject all data.

  • SJOT schemas translate to JSON schema draft v4 without loss of schema details.

  • Full documentation at

How to validate JSON

Some examples to validate JSON and JS values with a SJOT schema:

// <script src="sjot.js"></script>  add this to your web page to load sjot.js, or...
var SJOT = require("sjot");     //  ... use the npm sjot package for node.js
var schema = {
  "@root": {                    // root type is an object:
    "name":    "string",        // required name of type string
    "v?1.0":   "number",        // optional v with default 1.0
    "tags?":   "string{1,}",    // optional non-empty set of string tags
    "package": { "id": "1..", "name": "char[1,]" }
   }                            // >= 1, non-empty
var data = {
    "name":    "SJOT",
    "v":       1.4,
    "tags":    [ "JSON", "SJOT" ],
    "package": { "id": 1, "name": "sjot" }
// example 1: SJOT.valid(data, type|"[URI]#[type]"|"@root", schema) tests if data is valid:
if (SJOT.valid(data, "@root", schema))
  ... // OK: data validated against schema
  ... // FAIL: data is not valid
// example 2: SJOT.validate(data, type|"[URI]#[type]"|"@root", schema) validates data, if validation fails throws an exception with diagnostics:
try {
  SJOT.validate(data, "@root", schema);
} catch (e) {
  window.alert(e); // FAIL: data is not valid
// example 3: SJOT.check(schema) checks if schema is compliant and correct and if it has satisfiable constraints (does not reject all data), if not throws an exception with diagnostics:
try {
} catch (e) {
  window.alert(e); // FAIL: schema is not compliant or is incorrect or is not satisfiable (see notes)

How to type check JSON and JS values

Type checking JSON and JS values with SJOT is simple too with SJOT.valid(data, type) that tests if data is of the correct type:

// <script src="sjot.js"></script>  add this to your web page to load sjot.js, or...
var SJOT = require("sjot");     //  ... use the npm sjot package for node.js
var value1 = 2;
var value2 = true;
var value3 = [1,2];
var value4 = {a:"x",b:2};
var value5 = {a:[1,2],b:{"x":3.14}};
var value6 = null;
// examples: these all succeed to type check
if (SJOT.valid(value1, "1..10"))
  ... // OK (result is true)
if (SJOT.valid([value1,value2], ["1..10","boolean"]))
  ... // OK (result is true)
if (SJOT.valid(value3, ["int"]))
  ... // OK (result is true)
if (SJOT.valid(value4, {a:"char[1]",b:"1..10"}))
  ... // OK (result is true)
if (SJOT.valid(value5, {"@final":true,a:["int"],b:{x:"float"}}))
  ... // OK (result is true)
if (SJOT.valid(value6, [["string","boolean","null"]])
  ... // OK (result is true)
// examples: these fail to type check
if (SJOT.valid(value1, "-1..0") === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)
if (SJOT.valid(value2, "number") === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)
if (SJOT.valid(value3, "int[3,5]") === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)
if (SJOT.valid(value4, {x:"number"}) === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)
if (SJOT.valid(value5, {"@final":true,a:["int"]}) === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)
if (SJOT.valid(value6, [["string","number"]]) === false)
  ... // FAIL (result is false)

How to snapSJOT JSON

SnapSJOT creates a SJOT schema for the given JSON data. First, install snapSJOT with:

npm install snapsjot

Then use snapSJOT with node.js as follows:

var snapSJOT = require("snapsjot");
var data =
    "name":    "SJOT",
    "v":       "1.3.7",
    "tags":    [ "JSON", "SJOT", "validator" ],
    "package": { "id": 1, "name": "sjot" }
    "name":    "SNAPSJOT",
    "v":       1.3,
    "tags":    [ "JSON", "SJOT", "converter" ],
    "package": { "id": 2, "name": "snapsjot", "opt": true }
var schema = snapSJOT.convert(data);
console.log(JSON.stringify(schema, null, 2));

This creates the following SJOT schema:

  "@note": "SJOT schema created from JSON data by snapSJOT",
  "@root": [
      "@final": true,
      "name": "string",
      "v": [[ "string", "number" ]],
      "tags": [ "string" ],
      "package": {
        "@final": true,
        "id": "number",
        "name": "string",
        "opt?": "boolean"

SJOT schema basics

A SJOT schema is a dictionary of named types, with @root defining the root type of the JSON document to validate:

  "@root":     type,
  "SomeType":  type,
  "OtherType": type,

A SJOT type is one of:

"any"                 any type (wildcard)
"atom"                non-null primitive type
"boolean"             Boolean
"true"                fixed value true
"false"               fixed value false
"byte"                8-bit integer
"short"               16-bit integer
"int"                 32-bit integer
"long"                64-bit integer
"ubyte"               8-bit unsigned integer
"ushort"              16-bit unsigned integer
"uint"                32-bit unsigned integer
"ulong"               64-bit unsigned integer
"integer"             integer (unconstrained)
"float"               single precision decimal
"double"              double precision decimal
"number"              decimal number (unconstrained)
"n..m"                inclusive numeric range (n or m is optional)
"<n..m>"              exclusive numeric range (n or m is optional)
"n,m..k,l"            numeric enumeration with inclusive ranges
"string"              string
"base64"              string with base64 content
"hex"                 string with hexadecimal content
"uuid"                string with UUID content
"date"                string with RFC 3339 date
"time"                string with RFC 3339 time
"datetime"            string with RFC 3339 datetime
"duration"            string with ISO-8601 duration
"char"                string with a single character
"char[n,m]"           string of n to m characters (n, m are optional)
"(regex)"             string that matches the regex (regex is anchored)
"type[]"              array of values of named type, shorthand for [ type ]
"type[n,m]"           array of n to m values of named type, shorthand for [ n, type, m ]
"type{}"              set of atoms (array of unique atoms)
"type{n,m}"           set of n to m atoms (n, m are optional)
"URI#name"            reference to named type in schema "@id": "URI"
"#name"               reference to named type in current schema
"object"              object, same as {}
"array"               array, same as []
"null"                fixed value null
[ type ]              array of values of type (type is optional)
[ n, type, m ]        array of n to m values of type (n, type, m are optional)
[ type, ..., type ]   tuple of typed values
[[ type, ..., type ]] union of types (choice of one of these types)
{ "prop": type, ... } object with typed properties

An object property is optional when its name ends with a ?, which may be followed by a default value for the property. This default value will be assigned by the validator when the property is not present in the object or is null.

An object property name can be expressed as a regex string "(regex)" for property name matching. The regex is anchored.

Constraints on objects are expressed with @extends, @final, @one, @any, @all, @dep.

Notes can be placed in schemas and objects with @note property strings.

SJOT explained by example

Arrays and objects

An array of non-extensible (final) address objects with required number, street, city, state and zip, and an optional phone number specified as a regex:

  "@root": [
      "@final": true,
      "number": "1..",
      "street": "char[1,]",
      "city":   "char[1,]",
      "state":  "char[2]",
      "zip":    "10000..99999",
      "phone?": "([- 0-9]+)"

Default values

When an optional property is missing or is null, the default value will be assigned by the validator to this property. For example, an object with an optional year since 1900 that defaults to 1900:

  "@root": { "year?1900": "1900.." }

Inheritance and referencing

An array of extensible products and widgets, where Widget extends Product. Note that #Product references a named type in the schema:

  "@root": [ "#Product" ],

  "Product": {
    "SKU":   "100..",
    "name":  "string",
    "price": "<0.0.."

  "Widget": {
    "@extends": "#Product",
    "dimensions": {
      "length": "number",
      "width":  "number",
      "height": "number"


Dependences are specified with @dep (meaning that if a property is present then other(s) must be present), @one (exactly one of the properties must be present), @any (one or more of the properties must be present), and @all (none or all of the properties must be present). For example, if property contest is present then property prizes must also be present as specified with @dep, where prizes is a non-empty array of unique strings:

  "@root": {
    "event":    "string",
    "contest?": "string",
    "prizes?":  "string{1,}",
    "@dep": {
      "contest": [ "prizes" ]


A union (choice of types) is specified with [[ ]] and can be used anywhere a type is expected. For example, this schema defines a non-empty array of mixed strings and numbers:

  "@root": [1, [["string", "number"]] ]

Objects in a union should be distinct, meaning they cannot share properties. This permits streaming-fast checking based on the first property observed in JSON. For example, this schema defines a choice of two distinct objects:

  "@root": [[
    { "a": "number" },
    { "b": "string" }

But the following is incorrect:

  "@root": [[
    { "a": "number" },
    { "a": "number", "b": "string" }

because both objects match the JSON data { "a": 1, "b": "foo" }.

To choose an object type among potentially overlapping objects, use one or more { "@if": ... "@then": ... } at the start of the union:

  "@root": [[
      "@if": "b",
      "@then": { "a": "number", "b": "string" },
    { "a": "number" }

where in this example the @then object is selected if the JSON object has property b of type string.

To match both property name and value, use an enumeration or regex:

  "@root": [[
      "@if": "b",
      "@then": { "a": "number", "b": "1,3..5" },
      "@if": "b",
      "@then": { "a": "number", "b": "(foo)" },
    { "a": "number" }

where "1,3..5" enumerates integer values and "(foo)" is a regex that matches string "foo", see below.


A regex property name or string type opens with ( and ends with ) and is implicitly anchored with a ^ and a $. For example, an extensible dictionary object of word-word pairs:

  "@root": { "(\\w+)", "(\\w+)" }

What's included?

Three alternative versions of sjot.js are included:

  • sjot-fast.js is optimized for speed but validation error messages are less informative
  • sjot-lean.js is optimized for size but lacks SJOT.check(schema)
  • sjot-mean.js is optimized for speed and size

Also included are the following utilities:

  • dev/sjot2js.js is a SJOT to JSON schema converter.
  • dev/js2sjot.js is a JSON schema to SJOT converter.
  • dev/snapsjot.js is the snapSJOT schema creator from JSON data.

You can use these utilities interactively at

How does SJOT compare to JSON schema?

  • JSON schema is verbose, doubling the nesting level compared to JSON data. By contrast, SJOT schema levels are one-on-one with JSON data.
  • JSON schema validation performance is not scalable. By contrast, SJOT validators are very fast and scalable. The asymptotic running time of JSON validity checking is linear in the size of the given JSON data.
  • JSON schema offers very few predeclared primitive types. By contrast, SJOT offers a wide choice of pre-defined types.
  • JSON schema is non-strict by default. By contrast, SJOT is strict by default since object properties are required by default.
  • JSON schemas are not extensible. By contrast, SJOT objects are extensible or final.
  • JSON schema violates the encapsulation principle because it permits referencing local schema types. By contrast, SJOT groups all types at the top level in the schema as a simple dictionary of named types.
  • JSON schema design violates the orthogonality principle. There should only be one simple and independent way to combine constructs.
  • The principle of least surprise may not apply to JSON schema.


sjot.js is fully functional to validate JSON data, with one minor practical limitation:

  • The SJOT model checker SJOT.check() checks schema satisfiability for up to 20 distinct properties collected from the @one, @any, @all, and @dep of an object type. The model checker stays silent for over 20 properties due to the excessive computational expense (the model satisfiability problem is NP-complete). The model checker is optional and is not used by the SJOT validator.

Feature wish list / nice to have

  • Random JSON data generator from SJOT schemas for testing

How to contribute?

We love feedback and contributions to this project. Please read CONTRIBUTING for details.


  • Oct 1, 2016: sjot 0.0.2 released
  • Oct 2, 2016: sjot 0.1.0 added @extends and fixed minor issues
  • Oct 3, 2016: sjot 0.1.1 fixes for minor issues
  • Oct 3, 2016: sjot 0.1.2 fixes for minor issues
  • Oct 3, 2016: sjot 0.1.3 fixed JS RegExp features not supported by Safari
  • Oct 4, 2016: sjot 0.1.4 added @final, added validation error reporting, fixed minor issues
  • Oct 5, 2016: sjot 0.1.5 minor fixes
  • Oct 5, 2016: sjot 0.1.6 API update: SJOT.valid(data) returns true (valid) or false (invalid), SJOT.validate(data) throws exception string with error details when validation fails
  • Oct 6, 2016: sjot 0.1.7 improvements and fixes for minor issues
  • Oct 7, 2016: sjot 1.0.0 added SJOT.check(schema), uniqueness check for sets, and many other additions and improvements that makes the API compliant with the SJOT specification (except for support for external URL#name schema references)
  • Oct 8, 2016: sjot 1.0.2 fixes for minor issues
  • Oct 9, 2016: sjot 1.0.4 fixes for minor issues
  • Oct 10, 2016: sjot 1.1.0 fast, lean, and mean scripts included
  • Oct 11, 2016: sjot 1.1.1 datetime RFC3339 validation fixed
  • Oct 12, 2016: sjot 1.2.0 regex property names added
  • Oct 13, 2016: sjot 1.2.1 fixes numeric range validation issue (float data for integer range type is invalid)
  • Oct 18, 2016: sjot 1.2.2 fix for SJOT.check() #type cycling and added "null" type
  • Oct 19, 2016: sjot 1.2.3 updated SJOT.check() for union types and validation rules
  • Oct 20, 2016: sjot 1.2.4 improved handling of default values for properties and tuples with nulls, so that the validator adds default values in place of missing data
  • Oct 21, 2016: sjot 1.2.5 improvements and dev/sjot2js.js added
  • Oct 22, 2016: sjot 1.2.6 added new @dep constraints and new built-in "true" and "false" types
  • Oct 24, 2016: sjot 1.2.7 added SJOT schema model checker to SJOT.check() that checks for non-satisfiable schemas which reject all data
  • Oct 25, 2016: sjot 1.2.8 minor updates
  • Oct 25, 2016: sjot 1.2.9 minor updates
  • Nov 22, 2016: sjot 1.3.0 merged dev/js2sjot thanks to Chris Moutsos for helping out
  • Nov 25, 2016: sjot 1.3.1 added "uuid" type and inline arrays with [type] and [n,type,m]
  • Nov 26, 2016: sjot 1.3.2 fixes for minor issues
  • Nov 28, 2016: sjot 1.3.3 performance improvements, fixes for minor issues
  • Nov 29, 2016: sjot 1.3.4 added support for schema root references URI# and # in addition to URI#type and #type, root references may also be used in @sjot in JSON
  • Dec 1, 2016: sjot 1.3.5 improvements
  • Dec 12, 2016: sjot 1.3.6 improvements
  • Jan 9, 2017: sjot 1.3.7 added remote SJOT schema loading (subject to Same Origin Policy)
  • Feb 13, 2017: sjot 1.3.8 improvements
  • Jul 8, 2017: sjot 1.3.9 improvements
  • Jul 9, 2017: sjot 1.3.10 improvements
  • Jul 9, 2017: sjot 1.3.11 improvements
  • Jul 12, 2017: sjot 1.3.12 validation error messages now use JSONPath to identify JSON error locations
  • Jul 12, 2017: sjot 1.3.13 improvements
  • Jul 13, 2017: sjot 1.3.14 updated js2sjot.js
  • Jul 16, 2017: sjot 1.3.15 improvements
  • Oct 24, 2017: sjot 1.3.16 ES5 compatible sjot.js update for improved browser support
  • Nov 14, 2017: sjot 1.3.17 added snapSJOT snapsjot.js schema creator to convert JSON data to SJOT schemas, improvements
  • Nov 15, 2017: sjot 1.3.18 npm package snapsjot released
  • Nov 16, 2017: sjot 1.4.0 sjot and snapsjot updates, easy type checking with SJOT.valid(data, type), removed console.log()
  • Nov 18, 2017: sjot 1.4.1 minor updates
  • Nov 18, 2017: sjot 1.4.2 minor updates
  • Nov 18, 2017: sjot 1.4.3 minor updates
  • Dec 5, 2017: sjot 1.4.4 extended unions with @if @then constructs to validate non-distinct objects by property name and property value

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