JSON for humans.


2.1.0-482 years ago4 years agoMinified + gzip package size for @gerhobbelt/json5 in KB


JSON5 – JSON for Humans

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This repository contains a fork maintained by GerHobbelt. The original JSON5 work is available at json5/json5.

For an overview of all changes (fixes and features), see the section What's New or Different? further below.

The JSON5 Data Interchange Format (JSON5) is a superset of JSON that aims to alleviate some of the limitations of JSON by expanding its syntax to include some productions from ECMAScript 5.1.

This JavaScript library is a derivative of the official reference implementation for JSON5 parsing and serialization libraries, where this derivative includes a few extra features: these extras are marked with πŸŽ·πŸ“ in the feature list further below.


JSON isn’t the friendliest to write. Keys need to be quoted, objects and arrays can’t have trailing commas, and comments aren’t allowed β€” even though none of these are the case with regular JavaScript today.

That was fine when JSON’s goal was to be a great data format, but JSON’s usage has expanded beyond machines. JSON is now used for writing configs, manifests, even tests β€” all by humans.

There are other formats that are human-friendlier, like YAML, but changing from JSON to a completely different format is undesirable in many cases. JSON5’s aim is to remain close to JSON and JavaScript.

Summary of Features

The following ECMAScript 5.1 features, which are not supported in JSON, have been extended to JSON5.


  • Object keys may be an ECMAScript 5.1 IdentifierName.
  • Objects may have a single trailing comma.


  • Arrays may have a single trailing comma.


Note the restrictions mentioned below in the section about enhanced string formats.


  • Numbers may be hexadecimal.
  • Numbers may have a leading or trailing decimal point.
  • Numbers may be IEEE 754 positive infinity, negative infinity, and NaN.
  • Numbers may begin with an explicit plus sign.

RegExp instances (and derived classes)

Error instances (and derived classes)


  • Single and multi-line comments are allowed.

White Space

  • Additional white space characters are allowed.

Short Example

  // comments
  unquoted: 'and you can quote me on that',
  singleQuotes: 'I can use "double quotes" here',
  lineBreaks: "Look, Mom! \
No \\n's!",
  hexadecimal: 0xdecaf,
  leadingDecimalPoint: .8675309, andTrailing: 8675309.,
  positiveSign: +1,
  trailingComma: 'in objects', andIn: ['arrays',],
  "backwardsCompatible": "with JSON",


For a detailed explanation of the JSON5 format, please read the official specification.



npm install @gerhobbelt/json5
const JSON5 = require('@gerhobbelt/json5')


<script src="https://unpkg.com/@gerhobbelt/json5@2.1.0-48"></script>

This will create a global JSON5 variable.


The JSON5 API is compatible with the JSON API.


Parses a JSON5 string, constructing the JavaScript value or object described by the string. An optional reviver function can be provided to perform a transformation on the resulting object before it is returned.


JSON5.parse(text[, reviver])


  • text: The string to parse as JSON5.

  • reviver: If a function, this prescribes how the value originally produced by parsing is transformed, before being returned.

    reviver callback function arguments: (key, value), where

    • this: references the JavaScript object containing the key/value pair.
    • key: a string representing the attribute value.
    • value: the value of the this[key] attribute, as parsed by JSON5.

    The reviver() function returns the (possibly altered/'revived') value.

    When reviver() returns undefined, the attribute (this[key]) is deleted from the object.

    The root of the parsed JSON5 object tree is also passed into reviver() as an attribute with key '' (empty string), thus allowing reviver() to postprocess every part of the parsed JSON5 input.

    Note that reviver() is called as part of the JSON5 parse postprocess and thus CANNOT be used to encode alternate behaviour when encountering duplicate keys in an input object or other parse errors: JSON5 first performs a full parse, before invoking reviver() on each of the regenerated elements.

Return value

The object corresponding to the given JSON5 text.


Converts a JavaScript value to a JSON5 string, optionally replacing values if a replacer function is specified, or optionally including only the specified properties if a replacer array is specified.


JSON5.stringify(value[, replacer[, space[, circularRefHandler]]])
JSON5.stringify(value[, options])


  • value: The value to convert to a JSON5 string.

  • replacer: A function that alters the behavior of the stringification process, or an array of String and Number objects that serve as a whitelist for selecting/filtering the properties of the value object to be included in the JSON5 string. If this value is null or not provided, all properties of the object are included in the resulting JSON5 string.

  • space: A String or Number object that's used to insert white space into the output JSON5 string for readability purposes. If this is a Number, it indicates the number of space characters to use as white space; this number is capped at 10 (if it is greater, the value is just 10). Values less than 1 indicate that no space should be used. If this is a String, the string (or the first 10 characters of the string, if it's longer than that) is used as white space. If this parameter is not provided (or is null), no white space is used. If white space is used, trailing commas will be used in objects and arrays.

  • circularRefHandler: πŸŽ·πŸ“ A callback function which is invoked for every element which would otherwise cause JSON5.stringify() to throw a "converting circular structure to JSON5" TypeError exception.

    The callback returns the value to stringify in its stead. When this value happens to contain circular references itself, then these will be detected by JSON5.stringify() and encoded as '[!circular ref inside circularRefHandler!]' string values instead.

    Callback function arguments: (value, circusPos, stack, keyStack, key, err), where

    • value: The circular reference value.
    • circusPos: Index into the stack[] and keyStack[] arrays, indicating the parent object which is referenced by the value circular reference value.
    • stack: The stack of parents (objects, arrays) for this value. The first entry (index 0) is the root value. The array is a snapshot (shallow clone) to ensure user code can simply store this reference value directly without risking JSON5-internal closure problems which would ensue when we wouldn't have provided you with a snapshot/clone.
    • 'keyStack': The stack of keys, one for each parent, which describe the path to the offending circular reference value for the root value down. The first entry (index 0) is the root value. Useful when you wish to display a diagnostic which lists the traversal path through the object hierarchy in the root value towards the circular reference value at hand, for instance.
      The array is a snapshot (shallow clone) to ensure user code can simply store this reference value directly without risking JSON5-internal closure problems which would ensue when we wouldn't have provided you with a snapshot/clone.
    • key: Direct parent key of the current value. Same as keyStack[keyStack.length - 1].
    • err: The TypeError produced by JSON5.stringify(): provided here so your user-defined callback code can deside to throw that circular reference error anyway.
  • options: An object with the following properties:

    • replacer: Same as the replacer parameter.
    • space: Same as the space parameter.
    • quote: A String representing the quote character to use when serializing strings. When not explicitly specified, JSON5 will heuristically determine the quote to use for each string value to minimize the number of character escapes (and thus minimize output size).
    • circularRefHandler: πŸŽ·πŸ“ A callback function which is invoked for every element which would otherwise cause JSON5.stringify() to throw a "converting circular structure to JSON5" TypeError exception. See the circularRefHandler argument description above for more info.
    • noES6StringOutput: πŸŽ·πŸ“ when set to true (or a truthy value) JSON5.stringify() will not output ('`') backtick-encoded ES6 string literals; instead the strings will be output in JSON5 Standard single- or double-quoted escaped string values. You may set this option to output JSON5 files which will be conpatible with other Standard JSON5 readers.

Return value

A JSON5 string representing the value.

Node.js require() JSON5 files

When using Node.js, you can require() JSON5 files by adding the following statement.


Then you can load a JSON5 file with a Node.js require() statement. For example:

const config = require('./config.json5')

NOTE: πŸŽ·πŸ“ This, of course, assumes the required JSON5 file DOES NOT contain "heredoc" formatted string content!


Since JSON is more widely used than JSON5, this package includes a CLI for converting JSON5 to JSON and for validating the syntax of JSON5 documents.


npm install --global @gerhobbelt/json5


json5 [options] <file>

If <file> is not provided, then STDIN is used.


  • -s, --space: The number of spaces to indent or t for tabs
  • -o, --out-file [file]: Output to the specified file, otherwise STDOUT. (πŸŽ·πŸ“ If - is given as the file name, STDOUT is used.)
  • -v, --validate: Validate JSON5 but do not output JSON
  • -V, --version: Output the version number
  • -h, --help: Output usage information



git clone https://github.com/GerHobbelt/json5
cd json5
npm install

When contributing code, please write relevant tests and run npm test and npm run lint before submitting pull requests. Please use an editor that supports EditorConfig.


To report bugs or request features regarding the JSON5 data format, please submit an issue to the official specification repository.

To report bugs or request features regarding the JavaScript implementation of JSON5, please submit an issue to this repository.



πŸŽ·πŸ“ What's New or Different?

Here's a comprehensive list of features and fixes compared to the original

  • πŸŽ·πŸ“ added support for ES2015-style `...` multiline string template literals, e.g.

    { str: `multiline
            string value!` 

    Notes on this enhanced string format:

    • While The Template Literals Spec says otherwise, we still DO NOT support octal escapes in JSON5 ''-delimited *multiline strings*, as these ARE NOT identical to JavaScript 'template strings' as we DO NOT intend to support the ${...}` template variable expansion feature either!

      The multiline string literals are available to ease writing JSON5 content by hand (or generator) where the string content spans multiple lines and/or contains various quote characters, thus minimizing the need for escaping content.

    • Any MAC or WINDOWS style line ends are transformed to standard UNIX line ends, i.e. these transformations are done automatically by JSON5:

      • CRLF -> LF
      • CR -> LF
  • πŸŽ·πŸ“ added support for heredoc string values, which must start with << immediately followed by a marker, e.g. EOT or some other alphanumeric identifier, which, when used on a line alone, will signal the end of the 'heredoc' string.

    For example:

    { str: <<EOT
            multiline EOT
            example \n
            string value!

    will have encoded the literal string

            multiline EOT
            example \n
            string value!

    i.e. none of the content of the heredoc will be treated as escaped! (The \n in there would thus read as JavaScript string "\\n".)

    Notes on this enhanced string format:

    • When parsing heredoc values, we must extract the EOT marker before anything else. Once we've done that, we skip the first newline and start scanning/consuming heredoc content until we hit the EOT marker on a line by itself, sans whitespace.

    • We accept 2 or more(!) < characters to mark the start of a heredoc chunk.

    • We accept any non-whitespace character sequence as heredoc EOT marker.

    • By convention we do not accept 'formatting whitespace/indentation' before the EOT marker on the same line.

      The content of the heredoc starts after the first CR/LF; we DO NOT tolerate trailing whitespace or any other cruft immediately following the EOT marker!

    • JSON5 scans for a lone heredoc EOT marker to terminate the string content; until we find one, everything is literal string content.

    • heredoc content DOES NOT process escape sequences: everything is passed on as-is!

    • The content ENDS before the last CR/LF before the lone EOT marker; i.e. the EOT marker must exist on a line by itself, without any preceeding or trailing whitespace.

    • If the JSON5 field is followed by more data, the separator (comma, bracket, ...) must exist on the line past the EOT marker line: the EOT must be clearly 'alone' in there, e.g.:

      { str: <<EOT
      multiline EOT
      example \n
      string value!
      , extra: 42
    • CR / CRLF / LF MAC/Windows/UNIX line ends in the content ARE NOT transformed.

      This differs from the 'multiline string literal' type described above, where all line endings are automatically converted to UNIX style '\n'. Hence one may consider heredoc as a binary data format.

  • πŸŽ·πŸ“ JSON5.stringify() comes with a fourth argument: an optional callback method which will be invoked for each value in the value-to-stringify which would cause a 'cyclical reference' error to be thrown otherwise.

    The user-specified callback can deliver an alternative value to encode in its stead or throw the error exception after all.

    See the API documentation further above.

  • πŸŽ·πŸ“ Duplicate the same key in an object causes a syntax error when parsing JSON5 input. (This can happen, for instance, when you feed manually edited JSON5 content to JSON5.parse() or when processing JSON5 content which has been (incorrectly) merged by arbitrary text diff/patch tools.)


MIT. See LICENSE.md for details.


Assem Kishore founded this project.

Michael Bolin independently arrived at and published some of these same ideas with awesome explanations and detail. Recommended reading: Suggested Improvements to JSON

Douglas Crockford of course designed and built JSON, but his state machine diagrams on the JSON website, as cheesy as it may sound, gave us motivation and confidence that building a new parser to implement these ideas was within reach! The original implementation of JSON5 was also modeled directly off of Doug’s open-source json_parse.js parser. We’re grateful for that clean and well-documented code.

Max Nanasy has been an early and prolific supporter, contributing multiple patches and ideas.

Andrew Eisenberg contributed the original stringify method.

Jordan Tucker has aligned JSON5 more closely with ES5, wrote the official JSON5 specification, completely rewrote the codebase from the ground up, and is actively maintaining this project.

Related material

Packages and documents discussing material which attempts to solve the same or a very similar problem:

machine-readable (and -writable) structured data which is easy for humans to read and write.



If you find any bugs or have a feature request, please open an issue on github!

The npm package download data comes from npm's download counts api and package details come from npms.io.