Shane Shane - 3 months ago 18
JSON Question

Difference between toJSON() and JSON.Stringify()


if you need to read or clone all of a model’s data attributes, use its
toJSON() method. This method returns a copy of the attributes as an
object (not a JSON string despite its name). (When JSON.stringify() is
passed an object with a toJSON() method, it stringifies the return
value of toJSON() instead of the original object. The examples in the
previous section took advantage of this feature when they called
JSON.stringify() to log model instances.)


http://addyosmani.github.io/backbone-fundamentals/#backbone-basics

Can anyone tell me the difference between both these ways of
representing an object
in
JSON
notation. I am just confused whether these to achieve the same or there is a difference.

Answer

From the fine manual:

toJSON behavior

If an object being stringified has a property named toJSON whose value is a function, then the toJSON method customizes JSON stringification behavior: instead of the object being serialized, the value returned by the toJSON method when called will be serialized.

This is why Backbone uses the toJSON method for serialization and given a model instance called m, you can say things like:

var string = JSON.stringify(m);

and get just the attributes out of m rather than a bunch of noise that your server won't care about.

That said, the main difference is that toJSON produces a value (a number, boolean, object, ...) that gets converted to a JSON string whereas JSON.stringify always produces a string.

The default Backbone toJSON is simply this (for models):

return _.clone(this.attributes);

so m.toJSON() gives you a shallow copy of the model's attributes. If there are arrays or objects as attribute values then you will end unexpected reference sharing. Note that Backbone.Model#clone also suffers from this problem.

If you want to safely clone a model's data then you could send it through JSON.stringify and then JSON.parse to get a deep copy:

var data         = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(model_instance));
var cloned_model = new M(data);

where model_instance is your instance of the Backbone model M.

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