ArduinoJson: User Manual

Avoiding Pitfalls

As StaticJsonBuffer is the corner stone of this library, you’ll see that every pitfall listed here is related to a wrong understanding of the memory model.

Make sure you read Arduino JSON memory model before going further.

1. Make StaticJsonBuffer big enough

By design, the library has no way to tell you why parseArray() or parseObject() failed.

There are basically two reasons why they may fail:

  1. the JSON string is invalid,
  2. the JSON string contains more values that the buffer can store.

So, if you are sure the JSON string is correct and you still can’t parse it, you should try to increase the size of the StaticJsonBuffer.

You can use the ArduinoJson Assistant to compute the required size.

2. Make sure everything fits in memory

You may go into unpredictable trouble if you allocate more memory than your processor really has. It’s a very common issue in embedded development.

To diagnose this, look at every big objects in you code and sum their size to check that they fit in RAM.

For example, don’t do this:

char json[1024];                // 1 KB
StaticJsonBuffer<512> buffer;   // 514 B

because it may be too big for a processor with only 2 KB: you need free memory to store other variables and the call stack.

That is why an 8-bit processor is not able to parse long and complex JSON strings.

3. Keep the StaticJsonBuffer in memory long enough

Remember that StaticJsonBuffer’s function return references. References don’t contain data, they are just pointer to the actual. So they can only work if the actual data is in memory.

For example, don’t do this:

JsonArray& getArray(char* json)
    StaticJsonBuffer<200> buffer;
    return buffer.parseArray(json); 

because the local variable buffer will be removed from memory when the function parseArray() returns, and the JsonArray& will point to an invalid location.

4. Don’t reuse the same JsonBuffer

During is lifetime a JsonBuffer growth until it’s discarded. If you try to reuse the same instance several time, it will rapidly get full. This is true for both DynamicJsonBuffer and StaticJsonBuffer.

For this reason, you should not use a global variable for your JsonBuffer. I don’t think there is any scenario in which a global JsonBuffer would be a valid option.

The best practice is to declare it in a local scope, so that it’s discarded as soon as possible. My advice is to declare it in a function whose unique role is to handle the JSON serialization.

See FAQ: The first parsing succeeds, why does the next ones fail?

5. Keep the JSON string in memory long enough

The library never make memory duplication. This has an important implication on string values, it means that the library will return pointer to chunks of the string.

For instance, let’s imagine that you parse ["hello","world"], like this:

char[] json = "[\"hello\",\"world\"]";
StaticJsonBuffer<32> buffer;
JsonArray& array = buffer.parseArray(json);

const char* first = array[0];
const char* second = array[1];

In that case, both first and second are pointers to the content of the original string json. So this will only work if json is still in memory.

6. Do not assume that strings are copied

By default, ArduinoJson doesn’t make copies of strings. This allows it to work with full static memory allocation and ensure an efficient use of CPU cycles.

But this can have subtle consequences…

For instance the following code will not work as expected:

JsonArray& array = jsonBuffer.createArray();
for (int i=0; i<3; i++) {
    char buffer[16];
    sprintf(buffer, "iteration %d", i);

One will probably expect the following result:

["iteration 0","iteration 1","iteration 2"]

but the actual result would be:

["iteration 2","iteration 2","iteration 2"]

because the same memory area has been reuse for each iteration.

The simplest solution is to explicitly duplicate the strings in the JsonBuffer:

JsonArray& array = jsonBuffer.createArray();
for (int i=0; i<3; i++) {
    char buffer[16];
    sprintf(buffer, "iteration %d", 0);

The same principle applies to key and values of JsonObject.

Note: If you use String instead of a const char*, ArduinoJson calls JsonBuffer::strdup() implicitly.

7. Make sure the string isn’t read-only

If you read carefully the previous section, you may have come to the conclusion that the JSON parser modifies the JSON string.

Indeed, the parser modifies the string for two reasons:

  1. it inserts \0 to terminate substrings,
  2. it translate escaped characters like \n or \t.

Most of the time this wont be an issue, but there are some corner cases that can be problematic.

Let take the example bellow:

char[] json = "[\"hello\",\"world\"]";
StaticJsonBuffer<32> buffer;
JsonArray& array = buffer.parseArray(json);

If you replace it by:

char* json = "[\"hello\",\"world\"]";
StaticJsonBuffer<32> buffer;
JsonArray& array = buffer.parseArray(json);

Depending on your platform, you may have an exception because the parser tries to write at a location that is read-only. In the first case char json[] declares an array of char initialized to the specified string. In the second case char* json declares a pointer to a read-only string, in fact it should be a const char* instead of a char*.

Fork me on GitHub