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5 minutes read

JSON Vs. JavaScript: What is the Difference?

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
5 minutes read

Web development relies on JavaScript, but what is JSON, and what does a JSON vs. JavaScript comparison look like? Understanding the technology behind the web is important for organizations that are looking to innovate and make the most out of available resources. Everything web-related is going to use JavaScript. However, JSON is more nuanced, and you may or may not need to use it.

JSON and JavaScript

Before we can really begin to compare JSON vs. JavaScript, we need to understand what JSON is and how it relates to JavaScript. Let’s review what JavaScript and JSON are and then compare and contrast them to see what their differences are. 

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is one of the core technologies of the World Wide Web alongside HTML and CSS. JavaScript brings web pages to life. Without it, modern web design would be static and boring. JavaScript is a programming language. It is probably the most important programming language because every aspect of web development is built off of it. This is why it is a core technology of the World Wide Web.

We are not going to spend a lot of time detailing what JavaScript is. There are a number of other resources on our website that you can explore that go into more detail regarding the specifics of JavaScript. 

The information above is more than sufficient for our purpose of comparing JSON vs. JavaScript. 

What is JSON?

JSON is short for JavaScript Object Notation. So is JSON JavaScript? Not exactly. JSON is a data format that is independent of any programming language, although it is derived from JavaScript. The bulk of modern programming languages contain code that can generate and parse JSON data. 

A few notes on JSON:

  • It is a lightweight format for storing and transporting data
  • The syntax is self-describing, making it easy for humans to read and understand
  • Typically, JSON is used when data is sent from a server to a web page 

JSON data is structured in two basic ways: a key/value pair or a collection of such pairs, or an ordered list. JSON allows six different types of data to be stored or transported, including: 

  • Array
  • Null
  • Boolean
  • String 
  • Number 
  • Object

As you can see, JavaScript and JSON are two completely different things. While JSON is derived from JavaScript, the two are not exactly comparable in any way. However, we can compare JSON to JavaScript objects. These two are more closely related, and they offer us a better comparison. 

What are JavaScript Objects?

JavaScript objects are also used to store data. All JavaScript values are actually objects with the exception of primitive data types, null, Boolean, number, string, symbol, and undefined. JavaScript objects can get complex because they can contain a number of different primitive data combinations. 

JavaScript objects are also structured in key/value pairs. They can be created by object constructor syntax, object literals, constructors, and prototypes. JavaScript objects are mutable. This means that you can change the value for a respective key in a key/value pair. 

JSON Vs. JavaScript Objects: What are the Differences?

Before we look at the ways in which JSON and JavaScript objects differ, it is important to understand that JSON and JavaScript objects are far more similar than they are different. JSON is derived from JavaScript object literal syntax. In fact, the simplest explanation would be that JSON is JavaScript object literal syntax but with more restrictions

JSON and JavaScript objects are both human-readable. They both give users a way to structure data, and they can both be used as the source for another source. When it comes to differences, JSON and JavaScript objects differ in a few key ways:

  • Language dependency 
  • Text only 
  • String vs. object

Language Dependency

One of the biggest differences between JSON and JavaScript objects is the dependency on a programming language. JavaScript objects are completely dependent on JavaScript. They wouldn’t work with any other programming language. 

On the other hand, JSON is supported by more than 50 different programming languages, including popular languages such as:

  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • C
  • Python
  • PHP
  • JavaScript

This wide array of support makes JSON a flexible choice for data storage and transfer. 

Text Only

JSON data can only be presented in text. You cannot add comments or other lines of code to JSON. This rigidity is the reason why so many other programming languages can generate and parse JSON. 

JavaScript objects can include other code such as functions and methods. This allows for a greater degree of complexity and function. 

String Vs. Object

The last major difference between JSON and JavaScript objects is the way they are presented. JSON is presented in a string. These are referred to as JSON strings. JavaScript objects can contain strings, but they are, as their name suggests, objects instead of strings. Objects are more complex than strings.

Final Thoughts 

The differences between JSON and JavaScript objects are slight and nuanced. Likely, your organization won’t have to worry about making a choice between these two unless you are a tech company working in web development.

If you need help determining what path is right for your organization, seek help from an app development partner. A partner can use their technical expertise and industry experience to help guide you through all of the critical decisions you will need to make, and they can help you understand nuanced comparisons like JSON vs. JavaScript objects.

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