json_diff [--output FILE] [--verbose] [--unified] [left] [right]
json_diff [--version]
json_diff [--help]


json_diff produces deltas between JSON-serialized data structures. If no arguments are specified, stdin will be expected to be a JSON array [left, right], and the output will be written to stdout.

The default output is itself a JSON data structure, specifically an array of arrays of the form [<keypath>] or [<keypath>, <replacement>]. The companion program json_patch(1) can be used to apply such a diff.

A keypath is an array of string or integer tokens specifying a path to a terminal node in the data structure. For example, in the structure [{}, {"foo": "bar"}], the string "bar" appears at the node addressed by the key sequence [1, 'foo'], and the empty object {} appears at key sequence [0].

If a diff stanza is an array of length 1, consisting only of a key sequence, json_patch(1) interprets it as an instruction to delete the node the key sequence points to. If a stanza is of length 2, the node is replaced by the last element of the stanza.

An alternative output format for json_diff is accessed using the --unified / -u option. This is designed to be more legible to the human eye, inspired by unified diffs as output by diff(1). json_patch(1) can read either format, and, since there is enough information in the format, can apply --unified patches in reverse.

json_diff will accept input in any of the encodings specified in RFC 7159, namely UTF-8, -16 or -32, with or without byte-order marks. The default encoding for output is UTF-8 with no BOM, but this can be changed using the --encoding option.


--output FILE, -o FILE
 Write output to FILE instead of stdout.
--unified, -u Write diffs in a more legible format, inspired by the output of diff -u
--encoding ENCODING
 Select the encoding for the output.
--verbose Print compression statistics on stderr.
--version Show the program’s version number and exit.
--help, -h Show a brief help message and exit.


$ json_diff << 'EOF'
> [{"foo": "bar"},
>  {"foo": "bar",
>   "baz": ["quux"]}]

$ cat > foofile << 'EOF'
> {"foods": ["spam", "spam", "spam", "spam"],
>  "weaponry": "Mainly battleaxes.",
>  "spanish inquisition expected": false,
>  "drinks": "Delicious mead!",
>  "other supplies": null}
$ cat > barfile << 'EOF'
> {"foods": ["spam", "spam", "spam", "pickled eggs", "spam"],
>  "weaponry": "Mainly battleaxes.",
>  "spanish inquisition expected": false,
>  "drinks": "Soda water."}
$ json_diff -u foofile barfile
--- foofile   2014-04-14 21:32:00 BST
+++ barfile   2014-04-14 21:32:17 BST
  "weaponry": "Mainly battleaxes.",
+   "pickled eggs",

-  "Delicious mead!",
+  "Soda water.",

- "other supplies": null

Implementation Notes

The value of the --encoding option in the Python implementation of json_diff is fed straight to the encode() function, so it is possible to get output in any encoding supported by the Python implementation used to run the script. This makes various mildly interesting things possible, like getting compressed output using --encoding bz2 or --encoding zlib, or even --encoding rot-13 (Furrfu!)