json-spec: Type-level JSON specification

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Dependencies aeson (>= && <2.3), base (>= && <4.20), containers (>= && <0.7), scientific (>= && <0.4), text (>= && <2.2), time (>=1.9.3 && <1.13), vector (>= && <0.14) [details]
License MIT
Author Rick Owens
Maintainer rick@owensmurray.com
Category JSON
Home page https://github.com/owensmurray/json-spec
Uploaded by rickowens at 2024-02-22T15:29:57Z
Reverse Dependencies 3 direct, 0 indirect [details]
Downloads 151 total (34 in the last 30 days)
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Readme for json-spec-

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This package provides a way to specify the shape of your JSON data at the type level. The particular use cases we focus on are enabling (but not providing in this package):

  1. Auto-generating documentation to ensure it is correct.
  2. Auto-generating client code in front-end languages to ensure it is correct.

There are already tools available to achieve this, but they all have one major drawback: they rely on generically derived Aeson instances. Some people strongly object to using generically derived Aeson instances for encoding/decoding http api data because of how brittle it is. It can be surprisingly easy accidentally break your API without noticing because you don't realize that a small change to some type somewhere affects the API representation. Avoiding this requires very strict discipline about how you organize and maintain your code. E.g. you will see a lot of comments like

--| BEWARE, Changing any of the types in this file will change the API -- representation!! module My.API (...) where

But then the types in this api might reference types in in other modules where it isn't as obvious that you might be changing the api when you make an update.

I have even seen people go so far as to mandate that every type appearing on the API must be in some similar "API" module. This usually ends badly because you end up with a bunch of seemingly spurious (and quite tedious) translations between between "business" types and almost identical "API" types.

The other option is to simply not use generically derived instances and code all or some of your 'ToJSON'/'FromJSON' instances by hand. That (sometimes) helps solve the problem of making it a little more obvious when you are making a breaking api change. And it definitely helps with the ability to update the haskell type for some business purpose while keeping the encoding backwards compatible.

The problem now though is that you can't take advantage of any of the above tooling without writing every instance by hand. Writing all the individual instances by hand defeat's the purpose because you are back to being unsure whether they are all in sync!

The approach this library takes is to take a cue from servant and provide a way to specify the JSON encoding at the type level. You must manually specify the encoding, but you only have to do so once (at the type level). Other tools can then inspect the type using either type families or type classes to generate the appropriate artifacts or behavior. Aeson integration (provided by this package) works by using a type family to transform the spec into a new Haskell type whose structure is analogous to the specification. You are then required to transform your regular business value into a value of this "structural type" (I strongly recommend using type holes to make this easier). Values of the structural type will always encode into specification-complient JSON.


data User = User
  { name :: Text
  , lastLogin :: UTCTime
  deriving stock (Show, Eq)
  deriving (ToJSON, FromJSON) via (SpecJSON User)
instance HasJsonEncodingSpec User where
  type EncodingSpec User =
      '[ '("name", JsonString)
       , '("last-login", JsonDateTime)
  toJSONStructure user =
    (Field @"name" (name user),
    (Field @"last-login" (lastLogin user),
instance HasJsonDecodingSpec User where
  type DecodingSpec User = EncodingSpec User
      (Field @"name" name,
      (Field @"last-login" lastLogin,
      pure User { name , lastLogin }

For more examples, take a look at the test suite.