How to Use JSON in Python – The New Stack

JSON is an exceptional way to store and transfer data. Recently I wrote a introduction to using JSONand given that we also went deep enough down rabbit hole of PythonI thought this would be a great way to tie it all together by demonstrating how you can leverage the power of JSON in Python.

Python has built-in support for JSON, through an aptly named JSON package, and treats JSON the same as dictionaries. In Python, JSON supports primitive types (such as strings and numbers) as well as nested lists, tuples, and objects.

But why would you use JSON in an already simple language like Python?

Simple. JSON is not only easy to understand, with its key:value pairs, but it is also widely used as a common data format for storing and retrieving data from APIs and configuration files. In other words, many other systems, applications, and services already use JSON to store and transfer data, so why wouldn’t you want to use it in Python?

That said, let’s find out how you can work with JSON in your Python code.

Hi world!

Yes, we are back to our favorite application, Hello world! We’ll create this simple application using good old Python and JSON.

The first thing we are going to do is create our Python script. Open a terminal window (I’m demoing on Linux with Python installed) and create the new file with the command:


To use JSON in your Python code, the first thing you need to do is import the JSON library with the input:

Our next line contains the actual JSON input and looks like this:

Because we are using JSON, we have to work with a special function in the json library, called fillers. This will load the JSON data from sample_json and assign it to the variable Data. This line looks like this:

Finally, we print the information we have stored in Data with the line:

Save and close the file. Run the application with the command:

You should see printed:

Hello, World!

Simple! Let’s complicate it a bit more. We’ll create a simple Python script that uses JSON as a dictionary, and then we’ll see how to print the data as unformatted and formatted results.

Create the new script with the command:


Obviously, the first line will import the JSON library:

Next, we build our dictionary using JSON key:value pairs like this:

Next, we will use the JSON dumps function on our my_dictionary object with the line:

Finally, we will print our JSON data unformatted with the line:

Our entire script looks like this:

Save and close the file. Run it with:


The output of this application will look like this:

Instead of printing unformatted text, we can actually print it in a more standard JSON format. To do this, we first need to add a section under the My dictionary section that looks like this:

What the above section does is use the JSON flush function and then format My dictionary with dashes and double quote separators and also sorts the output dictionaries by key (with sort_keys = True), while assigning the data to the formatted_json variable.

Below this section, we then print the dictionary with the line:

Our entire script looks like this:

Save and close the file. If you run the new script with:


The output should look like this:

Read JSON from file

Suppose you have a long employee data file in JSON format. This file could be called data.json and look like this:

We have information for two employees in JSON format.

Now our Python application (named to read this data might look like this (with comments for explanation):

Save and close the file. Run the application with the command:


The application output will look like this:

And There you go ! You used JSON in a Python application. As you can imagine, the possibilities are limitless with what you can do with this juxtaposition.

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