Can comments be used in JSON?

How is data organized in JSON? Can the JSON format support comments? How can you integrate comments in your JSON files if it’s not innately supported? These are sophisticated queries many developers will confront while working with this widely-used data interchange format.

The main issue at hand is that JSON does not natively support comments. According to the documentation and the JavaScript standard ES5 that defines JSON as a format, comments are not included in the standard (ECMA Programming Language and Systems, 2011; ECMAScript 2017 Language Specification, 2017). This therefore poses a hardship for developers who want to annotate their code or leave explanatory comments for future reference. On the other hand, one could argue that the rationale for the lack of comment support in JSON is to maintain the simplicity and pureness of the data conveyed in this format.

In this article, you will learn about various alternatives to overcome JSON’s lack of direct commentary support. You will explore diverse techniques, including turning to JSON extensions or utilizing certain programming languages’ capabilities to mimic comment features within JSON.

Notwithstanding the controversy, gaining a thorough awareness of JSON’s limitations and the strategies to resolve them is incredibly advantageous for anyone dealing with data structures and interchange mechanisms. Thus, delving into this contentious issue is likely to yield valuable insights to improve your programming and data handling skills.

Definitions: Understanding JSON and its relation with Comments

JSON, which stands for JavaScript Object Notation, is a format for structuring data. It’s often used when data is sent from a server to a webpage. Despite its relation to JavaScript, it’s language-independent, meaning it can be used with most programming languages. A Comment, on the other hand, is a note made by a programmer in the source code of a program. Its purpose is to clarify the source code for other programmers.
In JSON, however, comments are not officially supported and won’t be recognized by the JSON parser. This is because JSON is a data format, not a programming language, and it aims to stay minimal and straightforward.

Exploring the Controversy: Can JSON Really Handle Comments?

The Ongoing Debate: JSON and Comments

Delving deep into the nuances of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), one topic that often stokes the flames of controversy revolves around its capacity to handle comments. Technically, the JSON syntax does not support comments. It is a data format with a strict set of rules that excludes the use of comments. At its core, JSON was designed for data exchange, and from this standpoint, adding elements that do not represent data, like comments, dilutes its purpose and efficiency.

However, the lack of native support for comments in JSON does not necessarily mean that one cannot incorporate notes into their JSON data. JSON minifiers and parsers that allow them, albeit through hacking the system, exist. Douglas Crockford’s JSMin, for instance, is a json minifier that will overlook whatever falls between the two slashes typical of JavaScript comment syntax. In practice, this means that sophisticated users can employ such tools to add comments to their JSON files without breaking the data structure. Nevertheless, these “comments” will not be universally recognized and could raise issues when the data is transmitted to systems relying on standard JSON parsing tools.

Showcasing Workarounds and Consequences

Clever users have found ways to make JSON handle comments in real-world scenarios, even though the official JSON syntax prohibits them. An interesting workaround to this quirk of JSON involves using a “_comment” key with a string value representing the comment. This method essentially treats the comment as a piece of data, ensuring its compatibility with the JSON format, and providing a universal way of identifying comments.

  • This method keeps the JSON valid.
  • The comment is universally recognizable.
  • It can be followed by developers working with the JSON.

Despite these positive aspects, drawbacks also come into play. For one, extra data increases the overall file size and could lead to slower data transmission and processing times. Moreover, these pseudo-comments are not distinct from actual data at a glance, necessitating a more careful manual review of the JSON.

The debate on whether JSON can handle comments is a shared reflection of the programming community’s quest for clarity, readability, and efficiency in code. While JSON’s official syntax opts for a leaner, data-focused structure that eschews comments, various workarounds showcase the ingenuity of developers in meeting their needs. However, these solutions introduce potential pitfalls and are not without their trade-offs, reinforcing that the controversy over JSON and comments is far from settled.

The Hidden Conundrum of JSON: Parsing Through the Comment Dilemma

Why the Debate Over Comments in JSON?

Have you ever found yourself torn between the desire to leave a comment for a fellow developer and the limitations of the JSON structure? This is a common tension experienced by many. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is admired for its simplicity and compatibility, efficiently allowing data interchange between languages. However, one key piece that JSON intentionally omits is the ability to include comments. This absence is not accidental; Douglas Crockford, the creator of JSON, explicitly left out the comments to keep JSON as minimal as possible. He aimed for a subset of JavaScript that could be ‘completely described after just 10 minutes of explanation.’

The Crux of the Matter

The reason behind this omission becomes a topic of animated discussions among developers. On one side, there’s a group claiming that including comments would deviate from JSON’s primary purpose – data interchange, with an assertion that any descriptive or explanatory content should be included in the data itself. On the other hand, the opposing party argues that comments can significantly enhance developer communication, support debugging, and serve as a documentation purpose. Despite this ongoing contention, the fact remains that standard JSON format does not support comments, and any attempt to incorporate them leads to parsing errors.

Approaching the Dilemma With Best Practices

However, certain workarounds and best practices can be implemented to resolve this issue. For instance, developers can use a ‘_comment’ field, though it technically remains part of the data. It’s also important to note that some JSON parsers (like JSON5 or JSONC) do allow comments, hence gaining a considerable following, especially among teams that depend heavily on internal communication and documentation. Yet, these practices are not universal and can cause compatibility issues across different platforms. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the trade-offs before choosing a method that suits the team and the project. Ultimately, whether it is a forbidden love affair or necessary evil is a decision that each developer or team must make.

Breaking Down JSON Boundaries: An Investigation into Comment Compatibility

Unraveling the Question: Can JSON Accommodate Comments?

How often have you encountered a JSON object and wished for a commentary to explain its structure or purpose? This is where the concept of comments within JSON becomes controversial. Considered a language that primarily contends with data representation, JSON doesn’t officially support comments. While this may take aback some developers, the primary design of JSON is to be simple and straightforward, keeping the data structure free from extraneous elements. Strikingly, JSON’s creator, Douglas Crockford, explicitly omitted comments from JSON specification to prevent the misuse of comments to pass instructions or directives, which he deemed as a bad practice. This highlights JSON’s intentionally minimalistic design where the utmost priority is ensuring data efficiency rather than annotative capability.

The Challenge: Commenting in JSON and Its Consequences

The prohibition of comments in JSON brings us to a predicament. As developers, comments often aid in comprehending the purpose, usage, or any quirks associated with the code. They serve an essential role in collaborative teams and future reference, where the lack of annotation can birth ambiguity. For instance, without comments, a teammate may misconstrue the exact purpose of a certain JSON key-value pair — a miscommunication that could be circumvented with a simple comment. Nonetheless, JSON’s stand against comments has a rational basis. JSON is a data interchange format, and introducing comments may influence the data’s portability across different platforms and languages. With comments, there is a risk of imbalance between data purity and understandability.

Navigating the Comment Conundrum: Alternatives and Best Practices

So, how do developers maneuver through JSON without comments? For JSON files used internally within a development team, some adopt the practice of incorporating comments artificially, trusting that the subsequent process will erase these comments before the JSON file is used elsewhere. In the Javascript environment, multiple libraries strip comments out of JSON files allowing developers to add in explanatory notations while preserving JSON’s simplicity in production. Another best practice is to use a “_comment” key-value pair for notes within JSON. While not ideal, this negates the risk of transferring comments when the JSON is used in different environments. Ultimately, the driving ethical guideline is to respect JSON’s data purity while ensuring code readability and maintainability. Note that these workarounds are exactly that – workarounds. They are not an endorsement of incorporating comments into JSON and should be employed judiciously.


So, have we truly evaluated the capacities and limitations of JSON or do we just take it at face value? Undeniably, JSON’s simplicity and readability have made it a universally recognized data interchange format. However, one limitation that can’t be ignored is the nonexistence of comment support within JSON. This absence may not pose colossal issues generally, but it does impact a coder’s convenience while working with larger amounts of data. While there are arguments for why JSON should remain comment-less, there are equally compelling reasons as to why comments could fortify the user experience, particularly when it comes to understanding and debugging code.

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Can I include comments directly in JSON?

No, you cannot include comments directly in JSON. The JSON data interchange format does not support comments.

Are there any alternatives to include comments in JSON?

Some developers use a ‘_comment’ key pair to add comments. However, this is not an official way and is merely a workaround.

What is the reason JSON doesn’t support comments?

The main reason JSON doesn’t support comments is to keep it as simple as possible. The absence of comments make JSON parsers easier to write.

Is there any specific programming language that allows comments in JSON?

No, comments are not allowed in JSON, regardless of the programming language you use. It is a limitation of JSON itself, not the language.

Could I use comments in JSON languages extensions?

Yes, some JSON extensions like JSONC and JSON5 do support comments. But remember, they are not pure JSON and not always fully compatible with all systems.