Review of JSON Crack for Visualizing Data Posted in Design Kristopher Sandoval March 29, 2023 Developers have never had so many open-source and free tools at their disposal than now. The modern web development space constantly changes and grows, fostering new offerings that deliver unprecedented potential to API developers. Below, we’ll look at one such free tool called JSON Crack, which can be used to explore and visualize JSON data. We’ll dig into why it’s useful, what it does, and explore some general use cases. What is JSON Crack? JSON Crack is a free and open-source data visualization tool that converts JSON into a visual graph. It’s served up within an online editor as well as a VSCode plugin. While JSON Crack seems deceptively simple, visualization is a very powerful tool for developers and users alike, and the simplicity of JSON Crack unlocks that power in an easy-to-understand, parseable way. The Importance of Data Visualization Data is only as useful as it is understood. Without a contextual understanding, data is just that — numbers and figures without any sort of purpose, form, or function. To turn data into useful information, we can employ a few solutions, but none are as human-centric as visualization. With visualization, one can gain a “bird’s eye view” of the entirety of the data structure and see how it interacts with other systems. Data visualization is an incredibly powerful approach to understanding data. Yet, the main problem is that it is often taxing. Although visualization tooling has improved over the years, tools often have their learning curves and caveats. JSON Crack is a great example of a usable visualization tool that is both easy to implement and understand. Users only have to put their JSON code into the view area, and like magic, it’s parsed and visualized. Why JSON Crack? JSON Crack is simple, but it offers a few benefits that set it apart from other solutions. Firstly, JSON Crack is open-source and free to use. While a premium version allows for remote API access to JSON Crack and more file creation and sharing, the free version allows for quite a lot of flexibility, even for small organizations. The fact that it is open source also means a great deal — we’ve discussed in the past the multitude of benefits delivered by open platforms, and the same benefits can be found here. An open-source solution is not only easy to review but fosters an open cycle of development which ultimately benefits everyone. JSON Crack clearly states that this open source quality is a core value of their identity, noting on their site: “As part of our commitment to the open source community, we’ve made our app freely available to anyone who wants to use it, and we welcome contributions from anyone who’s interested in helping to improve it. Whether you’re a developer, a data scientist, or just someone who’s passionate about open source, we’d love to have you join our community and help us make JSON Crack the best it can be.” Secondly, JSON Crack is straightforward to use, removing a barrier to entry. What is notable here is that JSON Crack offers a sliding scale of difficulty depending on what you want to do. Using the tool can be as simple as just dropping the JSON in the appropriate area and viewing the output, but it can also be quite a bit more complex. JSON Crack offers website embedding, fetching from a URL, and a remote API. The tool can be as complex as your use case but always intuitive and easy to use. Finally, JSON Crack supports live manipulation and experimentation. Using Microsoft’s Monaco Editor means that the graphs are actively editable, and the editor itself promotes experimentation with your data. Many tools do something very well but simply output the result and expect you to take it elsewhere for integration and editing. Morphability within the tool itself means you can actively delve into the data and experiment with layout, form, and function, creating a sort of “playground” for JSON data that is quite powerful. Use Cases for API Developers A tool like JSON Crack has several use cases for API developers. For example, it can help understand contextural relationships in JSON outputs and test the efficiency of data structures. Understanding Contextual Relationships in JSON Output Often, API developers test by verifying the output of their underlying systems. While this can do quite a bit to uncover potential issues and faults, it does mean digging through the output to try and understand the contextual relationship between the data points, which can be quite a chore. Using something like JSON Crack allows developers to take even an extremely large JSON output and visualize it in a way that shows the metacontextual relationships. These relationships can help developers understand where a fault may arise, pinpointing the potential points of failure quicker and with less overhead than other approaches. Efficiency Testing Another great benefit of visualization is the ability to see, relationally, what outputs are larger than others and more resource intensive. When a developer can visualize the nature of their JSON and the nested construct it represents, over-nesting and under-nesting can be discovered. While this is a minor benefit, it can seriously add up in some cases. Seeing that a JSON output has several nested layers that would better be its own request output or deferred to more detailed JSON request endpoints can lead to gains in efficiency, both in terms of data transit and overall processing. Conclusion JSON Crack is a simple tool, but it is deceptively powerful. Unlocking the ability to visualize JSON data unlocks a variety of benefits. Discovery is improved through visual representation and error checking. Format verification is made much easier, and data is ultimately made contextual and informational. API developers could benefit in a multitude of ways by implementing this tool into their workflow. Outside of JSON Crack, many other helpful tools exist for validating and parsing JSON data. What do you think of JSON Crack? Let us know in the comments below!