JSON Utilities

19th October 2014 | Programming

When working with RESTful services and JSON, there are several utilities which will make it easier to work with this format.

JSON Quick Look Plug-in

Since a blob of JSON data is just text, it can be saved into a simple, flat file. Amazingly enough, though, OS X does not have a native Quick Look plug-in to quickly preview files which end with the json extension. Fortunately, third-party extensions are available, such as the quick look JSON plug-in from sagtau.com2. Installing the Quick Look plug-in can be performed in three quick steps.

  1. Download QuickLookJSON.qlgenerator
  2. Copy the file to the directory /Library/QuickLook/
  3. Restart the Quick Look Server with the Terminal command: qlmanage -r

Text Filter Plug-Ins

BareBones Software makes two great text editors for the Mac, BBEdit and its little sister, TextWrangler. Both can also be extended with text filters which can be written in a variety of scripting languages like Perl, Python, or even a shell script. Text Filters are located in the following directories:

TextWrangler: ~/Library/Application Support/TextWrangler/Text Filters/
BBEdit: ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Text Filters/

Formatting JSON

After receiving an unorganized blob of JSON data from a web service, it would be nice to neatly format the information to make it easier to read for human consumption. An entry at Interactive Logic's1 site details how to create a Python scripts to take an unmanageable blob of JSON data and format it into a neater blob of JSON data.

Compacting JSON

Perhaps you don't like your JSON to be all nice and orderly and prefer a compressed mass of bits. No problem, there is a script for that, as well.

After a little research 3 through Python's documentation, I found that I could easily modify the Format JSON.py file to strip out the unwanted white space from the formatted JSON.

Compact JSON.py


  1. How to Format JSON in TextWrangler
  2. quick look JSON
  3. JSON encoder and decoder Python documentation
  4. Compact JSON Gist
  5. Format JSON Gist