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Learn JSON with online courses and programs

JSON is an important tool in back-end web development. When a site transmits or receives data, JSON can be used to facilitate the transfer. Learn JSON online and expand your programming skill set with courses delivered through edX.

What is JSON?

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a lightweight data-interchange format based on a subset of the JavaScript programming language. It is language-independent, meaning it can be used with different programming languages. Many programming languages also have code for interpreting JSON, and it’s frequently used in web applications for sending and receiving data. Like most data formats, it’s built on two structures: a collection of key/value pairs and an ordered list of values.Footnote 1

Consider a typical online shopping experience. As the user, you purchase a specific item at a specific price on a specific date. Those individual data points are stored as key/value pairs within the website database. In both storage and retrieval, JSON facilitates the interaction between the database and the website itself. The website may use this information to personalize marketing assets or to remind you of your most recent transaction on future purchases. 

JSON differs from other interchange methods in that it takes the form of a plain text string, which consists only of readable characters. Plain text can be easily transmitted across a network, and the process of converting JavaScript text to JSON uses JavaScript’s built-in functions. The native JavaScript object can then access the data stored in the JSON file.Footnote 2

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What is covered in a JSON tutorial?

JSON can be part of a coding curriculum that focuses on back-end or full-stack programming. These courses may introduce a new language such as JSON by explaining its usage and basic structure. They may move on to explaining file syntax and how JSON interacts with other programming languages. A coding boot camp can cover these topics while giving learners opportunities for hands-on experience with JSON.

Some courses may be specific to learning JSON. Curricula can provide an overview of how to create JSON objects and structures and how to use JSON for interface testing. It may also cover structured data as a concept, the core approaches used to structure data, and how JSON compares to other data interchange formats.

If you’re interested in learning more about these concepts, edX offers courses, degrees, and boot camps that cover JSON and related topics, including back-end development.

Jobs that use JSON

Because JSON is primarily used to handle website data, professionals working in web development use JSON in their day-to-day work. In almost all cases, JSON is used for the purpose of exchanging data between applications. These roles span several areas of software and web development. 

Some of the jobs that use JSON include:

  • Full-stack developer

  • Back-end developer

  • Web developer

  • Software engineer

You might use JSON if you’re developing a dating app and want aspects of the user profile like name, age, and gender. You could store the user information in a JSON file and use JavaScript to populate those fields.

Compared to XML and other data interchange formats, JSON is much easier for humans to write and understand. It’s also specifically designed for use as a data interchange format, whereas XML was originally a markup language. For these reasons, many web developers use JSON for data interchange purposes, whether they’re building e-commerce sites or social networks.Footnote 3

How to use JSON as a software engineer

As a software engineer working in front-end development or back-end development, you may encounter JSON often. Familiarity with JSON syntax can be crucial for web developers. Websites are rarely static. JSON allows you to populate fields with information specific to a user, time of day, location, or other variable factor. 

If you’re interested in learning JSON, it’s good to have a strong foundation in JavaScript or another C-family language like C# or Python.Footnote 4 These programming languages allow you to use the data contained within .json files.

You can grow your skills in JSON and other key programming languages like JavaScript and Python through computer science bachelor’s degree programs, master’s degree programs, and coding boot camps available through edX.

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