Andrey Regentov Andrey Regentov - 1 year ago 92
JSON Question

jq & bash: make JSON array from variable

I'm using jq to form a JSON in bash from variable values.

Got how to make plain variables

$ VAR="one two three"
$ jq -n "{var:\"$VAR\"}"
"var": "one two three"

But can't make arrays yet. I have

$ echo $ARR

and want to get something like

"arr": ["one", "two", "three"]

I only manage to get garbled output like

$ jq -n "{arr: [\"$ARR\"]}"
"arr": [

How to form JSON array in a correct way? Can
ever do that?

EDIT: Question was asked when there was only jq 1.3. Now, in jq 1.4, it is possible to do straightly what I asked for, like @JeffMercado and @peak suggested, upvote for them. Won't undo acceptance of @jbr 's answer though.

jbr jbr
Answer Source

jq is doing exactly what you tell it to do. jq is not a program for generating JSON, but a tool for querying it. What you are doing with the -n switch is just using it as a pretty printer. So if you want it to print an object with an array containing "one", "two", "three" then you have to generate it.

VAR="one two three"
VAR=$(echo $VAR | sed -e 's/\(\w*\)/,"\1"/g' | cut -d , -f 2-)
echo "{var: [$VAR]}"


As Bryan and others mention below it is indeed possible to generate JSON with jq, and from version 1.4, it's even possible to do what the OP ask directly, see for example Jeff's answer.