Shard Shard - 5 months ago 17
JSON Question

Regex to validate JSON

I am looking for a Regex that allows me to validate json.

I am very new to Regex's and i know enough that parsing with Regex is bad but can it be used to validate?

Answer

(This regex was brought to you from the proving-the-naysayers-wrong department.)

Yes, a complete regex validation is possible.

Most modern regex implementations allow for recursive regexpressions, which can verify a complete JSON serialized structure. The json.org specification makes it quite straightforward.

$pcre_regex = '
  /
  (?(DEFINE)
     (?<number>   -? (?= [1-9]|0(?!\d) ) \d+ (\.\d+)? ([eE] [+-]? \d+)? )    
     (?<boolean>   true | false | null )
     (?<string>    " ([^"\\\\]* | \\\\ ["\\\\bfnrt\/] | \\\\ u [0-9a-f]{4} )* " )
     (?<array>     \[  (?:  (?&json)  (?: , (?&json)  )*  )?  \s* \] )
     (?<pair>      \s* (?&string) \s* : (?&json)  )
     (?<object>    \{  (?:  (?&pair)  (?: , (?&pair)  )*  )?  \s* \} )
     (?<json>   \s* (?: (?&number) | (?&boolean) | (?&string) | (?&array) | (?&object) ) \s* )
  )
  \A (?&json) \Z
  /six   
';

It works quite well in PHP with the PCRE functions . Should work unmodified in Perl; and can certainly be adapted for other languages. Also it succeeds with the JSON test cases.

Simpler RFC4627 verification

A simpler approach is the minimal consistency check as specified in RFC4627, section 6. It's however just intended as security test and basic non-validity precaution:

  var my_JSON_object = !(/[^,:{}\[\]0-9.\-+Eaeflnr-u \n\r\t]/.test(
         text.replace(/"(\\.|[^"\\])*"/g, ''))) &&
     eval('(' + text + ')');
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