Today I Learned

hashrocket A Hashrocket project

Parsing nested string json

Today I learned how to parse a nested json with jq, but the nested json is a string. It’s just easier to show an example so here we are:

{
  "a": "{\"b\": \"c\"}"
}

This is not a common situation but I found that out today on a codebase and my first thought was to call jq get the content of the node a and then pipe it into another jq command. It would look like this:

echo '{"a": "{\\"b\\": \\"c\\"}"}' | jq '.a' | jq
# => "{\"b\": \"c\"}"

As we can see the result is not a json, but a string so we cannot access inner nodes just yet.

And the solution to this problem is to use the -r flag on the first jq call to output the result in a raw format, so the " surounding double quotes will disappear. And with that in place we can easily parse the nested/nasty json:

echo '{"a": "{\\"b\\": \\"c\\"}"}' | jq -r '.a' | jq
# => {
# =>   "b": "c"
# => }

Then finally:

echo '{"a": "{\\"b\\": \\"c\\"}"}' | jq -r '.a' | jq '.b'
# => "c"
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