Jeremy Dorn’s excellent JSON forms editor

The lingua franca for web data is a format called JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). It’s easier for people and machines to read and write than its predecessor, XML. And because JSON is JavaScript it’s a natural choice for a web increasingly powered by JavaScript code.

Like XML before it, though, JSON is only easy for some people to read and write: programmers. Most people need their interaction with JSON data to be mediated by HTML forms. As you’d expect, there are a bunch of JavaScript libraries that can do that mediation. Until recently, though, I hadn’t found one that felt right.

There is an embarrassment of riches. In any category of open source software where that’s true, evaluating the choices becomes an interesting challenge. Some useful criteria:

– Activity. Recent activity (commits, discussion, pull requests) by one or more contributors sends a strong positive signal.

– Demo. A live online demo, when feasible and if comprehensive, can help you decide whether to invest in exploring the project more deeply.

– Documentation. Clear, concise, and complete documentation also helps you decide whether to investigate more deeply.

– Size. Other things being equal, less code is more.

– Self-sufficiency. Other things being equal, less dependency on other code is more.

In my search for a JSON forms editor, these criteria led me to Jeremy Dorn’s json-editor. It’s small, self-contained, and wonderfully capable. And the demo is spectacular. Using it, I learned everything I needed to know about the tool, and verified that it met all my requirements. Because json-editor supports JSON schema, I was even able to prototype the data structures I was planning to use and then interact with them directly in the live demo.

Well done, Jeremy! You have not only created an excellent software tool. You have also exemplified how to present such a tool in a way that enables people to evaluate it quickly and thoroughly, then (if it meets the need) adopt it easily.

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