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jq Cheat Sheet

Example-wise the jq manpage is not really helpful. Let’s document some simple examples here…

To test queries live use

Output Formatting

If you do only care about output formatting (pretty print) run

jq . my.json

or when reading from a pipeline

cat my.json | jq

Note: for redirection you need to pass a filter too to avoid a syntax error:

jq . my.json > output.json

jq Extraction Examples

Consider this example document

    "timestamp": 1234567890,
    "report": "Age Report",
    "results": [
        { "name": "John", "age": 43, "city": "TownA" },
        { "name": "Joe",  "age": 10, "city": "TownB" }

To extract top level attributes “timestamp” and “report”

jq '. | {timestamp,report}'

To extract name and age of each “results” item

jq '.results[] | {name, age}'

To extract name and age as text values instead of JSON

jq -r '.results[] | {name, age} | join(" ")'

Filter this by attribute

jq '.results[] | select(.name == "John") | {age}'          # Get age for 'John'
jq '.results[] | select((.name == "Joe") and (.age = 10))' # Get complete records for all 'Joe' aged 10
jq '.results[] | select(.name | contains("Jo"))'           # Get complete records for all names with 'Jo'
jq '.results[] | select(.name | test("Joe\s+Smith"))'      # Get complete records for all names matching PCRE regex 'Joe\+Smith'

Avoid null output when accessing non-existing keys

jq '.mykey | select(. != null)'

“Deep” Value Extraction

If you want to combine subkeys at different levels it won’t work like this

jq '.items[] | { metadata["created"], name }'

Instead you can access values like this

jq '.items[] | { "created" : .metadata["created"], name }'

Or like this

jq '.items[] | .metadata["created"], .name'

The drawback being, that you do not get a JSON output, but each value on a new line.

Accessing unknown keys

When processing objects you might not know about some keys, in this case use to_entries. For example if you want to have all property fields of the following JSON:

echo '{
	"name": "R1",
	"type": "robot",
	"prop1": "a5482na",
	"prop2": null,
	"prop3": 55 
}' |\
jq '. | to_entries[] | select( .key | contains("prop"))'

will give you

  "key": "prop1",
  "value": "a5482na"
  "key": "prop2",
  "value": null
  "key": "prop3",
  "value": 55

Changing values with jq

Merging/overwriting keys

echo '{ "a": 1, "b": 2 }' |\
jq '. |= . + {
  "c": 3

Adding elements to lists

echo '{ "names": ["Marie", "Sophie"] }' |\
jq '.names |= .+ [

Delete values with jq

jq 'del(.somekey)' input.json

Merge JSON strings

For example merge three object lists:

echo '[ {"a":1}, {"b":2} ]' | \
jq --argjson input1 '[ { "c":3 } ]' \
   --argjson input2 '[ { "d":4 }, { "e": 5} ]' \
   '. = $input1 + . +  $input2'

Merge files (since jq 1.4)

The following command will merge “somekey” from both passed files

jq -s '.[0] * .[1] | {somekey: .somekey}' <file1> <file2>

Handle Empty Arrays

When you want to iterate over an array, and the array you access is empty you get something like

jq: error (at <stdin>:3): Cannot iterate over null (null)

To workaround the optional array protect the access with

select(.my_array | length > 0)

Testing Types

$ echo '[true, null, 42, "hello", []]' | ./jq 'map(type)'

Extracting key names

Given an JSON object like this

   "animals": [
       "dog": { },
       "cat": { }

you can extract the names of the animals using

jq '.animals | keys'   

Using jq in Shell Scripts


Parsing JSON into env vars

To fill environment variables from JSON object keys (e.g. $FOO from jq query “.foo”)

export $(jq -r '@sh "FOO=\(.foo) BAZ=\(.baz)"')

To make a bash array

read -a bash_array < <(jq -r .|arrays|select(.!=null)|@tsv)

JSON template using env vars

To create proper JSON from a shell script and properly escape variables:

jq -n --arg foobaz "$FOOBAZ" '{"foobaz":$foobaz}'

URL Encode

Quick easy way to url encode something

date | jq -sRr @uri

String Concat

Concatenation like this:

echo '{ "object" : { "name": "banana", "color": "yellow" }}' |\
jq -r '.object | (.name)+" is "+(.color)'

will print banana is yellow.

String Interpolation

Or using Interpolation:

echo '{ "object" : { "name": "banana", "color": "yellow" }}' |\
jq -r '.object | "\(.name) is \(.color)"'

will also print banana is yellow.