Urizen Urizen - 6 months ago 42
Objective-C Question

JSON and Core Data on the iPhone

I have a core data object graph (consisting of two entities linked by a to-many relationship).

I was curious, as a relatively inexperienced iPhone developer, whether anyone could recommend an approach, and a suitable JSON implementation for the iPhone, which would allow me to:

1) convert the core data records into a JSON string (whilst maintaining the relationship between the entities); and

2) convert the JSON string back into core data objects (again preserving the relationship between entities).

I have searched, unsuccessfully, for a tutorial/code sample on this point so any assistance would be gratefully received.

Answer

First, pick a JSON library to use, I personally like TouchJSON but several others out there are quite nice as well. The complicated part, although not very hard, is to convert your managed objects into suitable structures for the conversion. I wrote this real quick so it may have an error or two :)

The methods you call are:

- (NSString*)jsonStructureFromManagedObjects:(NSArray*)managedObjects;
- (NSArray*)managedObjectsFromJSONStructure:(NSString*)json withManagedObjectContext:(NSManagedObjectContext*)moc;

And the implementation is as follows:

- (NSDictionary*)dataStructureFromManagedObject:(NSManagedObject*)managedObject
{
  NSDictionary *attributesByName = [[managedObject entity] attributesByName];
  NSDictionary *relationshipsByName = [[managedObject entity] relationshipsByName];
  NSMutableDictionary *valuesDictionary = [[managedObject dictionaryWithValuesForKeys:[attributesByName allKeys]] mutableCopy];
  [valuesDictionary setObject:[[managedObject entity] name] forKey:@"ManagedObjectName"];
  for (NSString *relationshipName in [relationshipsByName allKeys]) {
    NSRelationshipDescription *description = [[[managedObject entity] relationshipsByName] objectForKey:relationshipName];
    if (![description isToMany]) {
      NSManagedObject *relationshipObject = [managedObject valueForKey:relationshipName];
      [valuesDictionary setObject:[self dataStructureForManagedObject:relationshipObject] forKey:relationshipName];
      continue;
    }
    NSSet *relationshipObjects = [managedObject objectForKey:relationshipName];
    NSMutableArray *relationshipArray = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
    for (NSManagedObject *relationshipObject in relationshipObjects) {
      [relationshipArray addObject:[self dataStructureForManagedObject:relationshipObject]];
    }
    [valuesDictionary setObject:relationshipArray forKey:relationshipName];
  }
  return [valuesDictionary autorelease];
}

- (NSArray*)dataStructuresFromManagedObjects:(NSArray*)managedObjects
{
  NSMutableArray *dataArray = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
  for (NSManagedObject *managedObject in managedObjects) {
    [dataArray addObject:[self dataStructureForManagedObject:managedObject]];
  }
  return [dataArray autorelease];
}

- (NSString*)jsonStructureFromManagedObjects:(NSArray*)managedObjects
{
  NSArray *objectsArray = [self dataStructuresFromManagedObjects:managedObjects];
  NSString *jsonString = [[CJSONSerializer serializer] serializeArray:objectsArray];
  return jsonString;
}

- (NSManagedObject*)managedObjectFromStructure:(NSDictionary*)structureDictionary withManagedObjectContext:(NSManagedObjectContext*)moc
{
  NSString *objectName = [structureDictionary objectForKey:@"ManagedObjectName"];
  NSManagedObject *managedObject = [NSEntityDescription insertNewObjectForEntityForName:objectName inManagedObjectContext:moc];
  [managedObject setValuesForKeysWithDictionary:structureDictionary];

  for (NSString *relationshipName in [[[managedObject entity] relationshipsByName] allKeys]) {
    NSRelationshipDescription *description = [relationshipsByName objectForKey:relationshipName];
    if (![description isToMany]) {
      NSDictionary *childStructureDictionary = [structureDictionary objectForKey:relationshipName];
      NSManagedObject *childObject = [self managedObjectFromStructure:childStructureDictionary withManagedObjectContext:moc];
      [managedObject setObject:childObject forKey:relationshipName];
      continue;
    }
    NSMutableSet *relationshipSet = [managedObject mutableSetForKey:relationshipName];
    NSArray *relationshipArray = [structureDictionary objectForKey:relationshipName];
    for (NSDictionary *childStructureDictionary in relationshipArray) {
      NSManagedObject *childObject = [self managedObjectFromStructure:childStructureDictionary withManagedObjectContext:moc];
      [relationshipSet addObject:childObject];
    }
  }
  return managedObject;
}

- (NSArray*)managedObjectsFromJSONStructure:(NSString*)json withManagedObjectContext:(NSManagedObjectContext*)moc
{
  NSError *error = nil;
  NSArray *structureArray = [[CJSONDeserializer deserializer] deserializeAsArray:json error:&error];
  NSAssert2(error == nil, @"Failed to deserialize\n%@\n%@", [error localizedDescription], json);
  NSMutableArray *objectArray = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
  for (NSDictionary *structureDictionary in structureArray) {
    [objectArray addObject:[self managedObjectFromStructure:structureDictionary withManagedObjectContext:moc]];
  }
  return [objectArray autorelease];
}

Now this is recursive so you can easily end up translating your entire persistent store if you are not careful. Watch your relationships and make sure that they only go "down" the object tree so that you only get the objects you want translated.

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