1 unstable release

Uses new Rust 2021

0.0.0 May 28, 2022


4.5K SLoC


github crates.io docs.rs test status

Please don't use this in production yet, it will panic in unexpected places for unimplemented features, the API is not ergonomic and is changing fast, and the docs are lacking. This version is published to crates.io so interested people can start to play with it easily.

An (incomplete) implementation of JSONata in Rust.

What is JSONata?

From the JSONata website:

  • Lightweight query and transformation language for JSON data
  • Inspired by the location path semantics of XPath 3.1
  • Sophisticated query expressions with minimal syntax
  • Built in operators and functions for manipulating and combining data
  • Create user-defined functions
  • Format query results into any JSON output structure

Read the full documentation, and give it a go in the exerciser environment.

Getting started

The API is currently not very ergonomic, as you need to provide a bumpalo arena for allocating values in.

First, add the following to your Cargo.toml:

jsonata = "0"
bumpalo = "3.9.1"

Then you can evaluate an expression with JSON input like this:

use bumpalo::Bump;
use jsonata::JsonAta;

fn main() {
    // Create an arena for allocating values, this will go away in future except for advanced use cases
    let arena = Bump::new();

    // Provide some JSON input, this could be read from a file or come from the network
    let input = "{ \"name\": \"world\" }";

    // The JSONata expression to evaluate
    let expr = "\"Hello, \" & name & \"!\"";

    // Parse the expression - this could fail
    let jsonata = JsonAta::new(expr, &arena).unwrap();

    // Evaluate the expression against the input - this could fail
    let result = jsonata.evaluate(Some(input)).unwrap();

    // Serialize the result into JSON
    println!("{}", result.serialize(false));

There's also a basic CLI tool:

# cargo install jsonata

# jsonata "1 + 1"

# jsonata '"Hello, " & name & "!"' '{ "name": "world" }'
"Hello, world!"

The expression and input can be specified on the command line, but that requires manual escaping. Alternatively, they can be provided from files. Here's the --help output:

# jsonata --help
jsonata 0.0.0
A command line JSON processor using JSONata

    jsonata [FLAGS] [OPTIONS] [ARGS]

    -a, --ast        Parse the given expression, print the AST and exit
    -h, --help       Prints help information
    -V, --version    Prints version information

    -e, --expr-file <expr-file>      File containing the JSONata expression to evaluate (overrides expr on command line)
    -i, --input-file <input-file>    Input JSON file (if not specified, STDIN)

    <expr>     JSONata expression to evaluate
    <input>    JSON input

Missing (but planned) features

There are a number of JSONata features which are not yet implemented:

  • Many built-in functions are missing
  • Parent operator
  • Context and index bind variables
  • Regular expressions
  • Object transforms
  • Sorting
  • Partial function application
  • JSON AST output to match the reference implementation

Differences from reference JSONata

Function signatures are not supported

Function signatures have their problems as described here, and are not supported by this implementation.

Most of the JSONata functions, however, support being passed the context as the first argument as dictated by their signature, e.g:

["Hello", "world"].$substring(1, 2)

/* Output: ["el", "or"] */

This is implemented in each built-in function itself. For example, if $string sees that it is called with no arguments, it will use the current context.

In addition, for all the built-in functions, type checking of arguments is also implemented directly in the functions themselves so that you get equivalent runtime errors for passing the wrong things to these functions as you would in reference JSONata.


There's a status document which describes the current status and long-term goals for this implementation.


Reference JSONata contains an extensive test suite with over 1000 tests. Currently, this implementation passes over 600 of these, you can run them like this:

cargo test testsuite

In tests/testsuite/groups are the tests groups that are passing, while tests/testsuite/skip contains the groups that still require feature implementation. There may be tests in the remaining groups that do pass, but I don't want to split them up - only when a test group fully passes is it moved.


Licensed under either of

at your option.


Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.


~71K SLoC