Network Working Group                                          A. Newton
Internet-Draft                                                      ARIN
Intended status: Standards Track                              P. Cordell
Expires: April 21, 2016                                        Codalogic
                                                        October 19, 2015

              A Language for Rules Describing JSON Content


   This document describes a language for specifying and testing the
   expected content of JSON structures found in JSON-using protocols,
   software, and processes.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 21, 2016.

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   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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1.  Introduction

   This document describes JSON Content Rules (JCR), a language for
   specifying and testing the interchange of data in JSON [RFC7159]
   format used by computer protocols and processes.  The syntax of JCR
   is not JSON but is "JSON-like", possessing the conciseness and
   utility that has made JSON popular.

1.1.  A First Example: Specifying Content

   The following JSON data describes a JSON object with two members,
   "line-count" and "word-count", each containing an integer.

      { "line-count" : 3426, "word-count" : 27886 }

   This is also JCR that describes a JSON object with a member named
   "line-count" that is an integer that is exactly 3426 and a member
   named "word-count" that is an integer that is exactly 27886.

   For a protocol specification, it is probably more useful to specify
   that each member is any integer and not specific, exact integers:

      { "line-count" : integer, "word-count" : integer }

   Since line counts and word counts should be either zero or a positive
   integer, the specification may be further narrowed:

      { "line-count" : 0.. , "word-count" : 0.. }

1.2.  A Second Example: Testing Content

   Building on the first example, this second example describes the same
   object but with the addition of another member, "file-name".

        "file-name"  : "rfc7159.txt",
        "line-count" : 3426,
        "word-count" : 27886

   The following JCR describes objects like it.

        "file-name"  : string,
        "line-count" : 0..,
        "word-count" : 0..

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   For the purposes of writing a protocol specification, JCR may be
   broken down into named rules to reduce complexity and to enable re-
   use.  The following example takes the JCR from above and rewrites the
   members as named rules.


      fn "file-name"  : string
      lc "line-count" : 0..
      wc "word-count" : 0..

   With each member specified as a named rule, software testers can
   override them locally for specific test cases.  In the following
   example, the named rules are locally overridden for the test case
   where the file name is "rfc4627.txt".

      fn "file-name"  : "rfc4627.txt"
      lc "line-count" : 2102
      wc "word-count" : 16714

   In this example, the protocol specification describes the JSON object
   in general and an implementation overrides the rules for testing
   specific cases.

2.  Overview of the Language

   JCR is composed of rules (as the name suggests).  A collection of
   rules that is processed together is a ruleset.  There are five types
   of rules: value rules, member rules, array rules, object rules, and
   group rules.  The first four types describe corresponding aspects of
   JSON, respectively.

   Each rule has two components, a rule name and a rule definition:

      <rule name> <rule definition>

   Rule definitions may in turn contain child rule definitions or
   reference other rules by their rule name.

   This is an example of a value rule:

      v1 : 0..3

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   It specifies a rule named "v1" that has a definition of ": 0..3"
   (value rule definitions begin with a ':' character).  This defines
   values of type "v1" to be integers in the range 0 to 3 (minimum value
   of 0, maximum value of 3).  Value rules can define the limits of JSON
   values, such as stating that numbers must fall into a certain range
   or that strings must be formatted according to certain patterns or
   standards (i.e.  URIs, IP addresses, etc...).

   Member rules specify JSON object members.  The following example
   member rule states that the rule's name is 'm1' with a value defined
   by the rule named 'v1':

      m1 "m1name" v1

   Since rule names can be substituted by rule definitions, this member
   rule can also be written as follows (to define a member rule named m1
   for JSON member named "m1name" that has a value that is an integer
   between 0 and 3):

      m1 "m1name" : 0..3

   Object rules are composed of member rules, since JSON objects are
   composed of members.  Object rules can specify members that are
   mandatory, optional, and even choices between members.  In this
   example, the rule 'o1' defines an object that must contain a member
   as defined by member rule 'm1' and optionally a member defined by the
   rule 'm2':

      o1 { m1, ?m2 }

   Array rules are composed of value, object, and other array rules.
   Like object rules, array rules can specify the cardinality of the
   contents of an array.  The following array rule defines an array that
   must contain value rule 'v1' and zero or more objects as defined by
   rule 'o1':

      a1 [ v1, *o1 ]

   Finally, group rules designate a collection of rules.

   Putting it all together, Figure 2 describes the JSON in Figure 1.

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   Example JSON shamelessly lifted from RFC 4627

         "Image": {
             "Width":  800,
             "Height": 600,
             "Title":  "View from 15th Floor",
             "Thumbnail": {
                 "Url":    "",
                 "Height": 125,
                 "Width":  "100"
             "IDs": [116, 943, 234, 38793]

                                 Figure 1

   Rules describing Figure 1

       { image }

       image "Image" {
           width, height, "Title" : string,
           thumbnail, "IDs" [ *: integer ]

       thumbnail "Thumbnail" {
           width, height, "Url" : uri

       width "Width" width_v
       height "Height" height_v

       width_v : 0..1280
       height_v : 0..1024

                                 Figure 2

   The rules from Figure 2 can be written more compactly (see Figure 3).

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   Compact rules describing Figure 1

           "Image" {
               width, height, "Title" :string,
               "Thumbnail" { width, height, "Url" :uri },
               "IDs" [ *:integer ]

       width "Width" : 0..1280
       height "Height" : 0..1024

                                 Figure 3

3.  Lines and Comments

   There is no statement terminator and therefore no need for a line
   continuation syntax.  Rules may be defined across line boundaries.
   Blank lines are allowed.

   Comments are very similar to comments in ABNF [RFC4234].  They start
   with a semi-colon (';') and continue to the end of the line or
   another semi-colon.

4.  Rules

   Rules are composed of two parts, a rule name and a rule definition:

      <rule name> <rule definition>

   Rule names allow a rule to be identified by a name.  A rule
   definition describes the constraints upon which the content is to be
   assessed.  Rule definitions can use rule names to refer to other

4.1.  Rule Names

   Rule names must start with an alphabetic character (a-z,A-Z) and must
   contain only alphabetic characters, numeric characters, the hyphen
   character ('-') and the underscore character ('_').

   Rule names are case sensitive.  Rule names identifying rule
   definitions must be unique within a ruleset.

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4.2.  Rule Definitions

   The syntax of each type of rule definition varies depending on the

     : string
     ; value rules start with a colon

     "member_name" target_rule_name
     ; member rules start by defining the member name

     { mem1, mem2 }
     ; object rules start and end with "curly braces", like JSON objects

     [ item1, item2 ]
     ; array rules start and end with square brackets, like JSON arrays

     ( rule1, rule2 )
     ; group rules start and end with parenthesis

   A rule definition may embed other rule definitions, either explicitly
   or by referencing a rule name that identifies a rule definition.

4.3.  Annotations

   Rule definitions may start with zero or more annotations.  Each
   annotation begins with the character sequence "@(" and ends with ")".
   The following is an example of a rule definition with the root
   annotation (explained in the next section):

      @(root) [ nuts, bolts ]

4.4.  Starting Points and Root Rules

   Careful readers will have noticed that although rules have been
   defined as having rule names and rule definitions, examples from the
   introduction have one rule without a rule name.  Within each ruleset,
   a name on the first rule is optional.  When the first rule is defined
   without a name, it is considered a root rule.

   Root rules are a starting point for the evaluation of JSON against a
   ruleset.  Or in other words, a root rule is the first rule processed.

   Rules may also be declared a root rule with the @(root) annotation.
   A ruleset may have more than one root rule, in which case the root
   rule to use for validating JSON should be explicitly specified

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4.5.  Value Rules

   Value rules define content for JSON values.  JSON allows values to be
   objects, arrays, numbers, booleans, strings, and null.  Arrays and
   objects are handled by the array and object rules, and the value
   rules define the rest.

4.5.1.  Numbers, Booleans and Null

   The rules for booleans and null are the simplest and take the
   following forms:

      rule_name : true

      rule_name : false

      rule_name : boolean

      rule_name : null

   Rules for numbers can specify the number be either an integer or
   floating point number:

      rule_name : integer

      rule_name : float

   Numbers may also be specified as an absolute value or a range of
   possible values, where a range may be specified using a minimum,
   maximum, or both:

      rule_name : n

      rule_name : n..m

      rule_name : ..m

      rule_name : n..

      rule_name : n.f..m.f

      rule_name : ..m.f

      rule_name : n.f..

   When specifying a minimum and a maximum, both must either be an
   integer or a floating point number.  Thus to specify a floating point

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   number between zero and ten a definition of the following form is

      : 0.0..10.0

4.5.2.  Strings

   String values may be specified generically as:

      rule_name : string

   However, the content of strings can be narrowed in the following

   A quoted string:  A rule can specify that the value must be a
      specific string:

         rule_name : "a constant string"

   Regular Expression:   A rule can state that a string must match a
      regular expression by giving the regular expression:

         rule_name : /regex/

   URIs and URI templates:   A rule can state that a string must be a
      URI [RFC3986]:

         rule_name : uri

      URIs may be further scoped to a specific URI pattern by using a
      URI template [RFC6570]:

         rule_name : http://{stuff}

         rule_name : http://{authority}/{thing1}?q={thing2}

      When using URI templates, the variable names are ignored for
      pattern matching, but they should be provided for construction of
      a valid URI template.  Providing the variable names also aids in
      the description of what is to be matched.

   IP Addresses:   Narrowing the content of strings down to IP addresses
      can be done with either the 'ip4' (see [RFC1166]) or 'ip6' (see
      [RFC5952]) literals:

         rule_name : ip4

         rule_name : ip6

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   Domain Names:   Fully qualified A-label and U-label domain names can
      be specified with the 'fqdn' and 'idn' literals:

         rule_name : fqdn

         rule_name : idn

   Dates and Times:   Dates and times are specified using the ABNF rules
      from RFC 3339 [RFC3339] as literals:

         rule_name : date-time

         rule_name : full-date

         rule_name : full-time

   Email Addresses:   A string can be scoped to the syntax of email
      addresses using the literal 'email':

         rule_name : email

      Email addresses must conform to the syntax of RFC 5322 [RFC5322].

   Phone Numbers:   Strings conforming to E.123 phone number format can
      be specified as follows:

         rule_name : phone

   Base 64:   Strings containing base 64 data, as described by RFC 4648
      [RFC4648], can be specified as follows:

         rule_name : base64

4.5.3.  Any Value

   It is possible to specify that a value can be of any type allowable
   by JSON using the any value rule.  This is done with the 'any'
   literal in a value rule:

      rule_name : any

   However, unlike other value rules which define primitive data types,
   this rule defines a value of any kind, either primitive (null,
   boolean, number, and string), object, or array.

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4.6.  Member Rules

   Member rules define members of JSON objects.  Member rules follow the

      rule_name member_name target_rule_name

   where rule_name is the name of the rule being defined, member_name is
   the name of the JSON object member, and target_rule_name is a
   reference to a value rule, array rule, or object rule specifying the
   allowable content of the JSON object member.

   Member names may be specified either explicitly as a quoted string:

      some_member_rule "some_member_name" some_member_target

   or a family of member names may be specified as a regular expression:

      some_member_rule /some\.[a-z]+\.names/ some_member_target

   Since rule names in rule definitions may be replaced by rule
   definitions, member rules may also be written in this form:

      rule_name "member_rule" target_rule_definition

   The following are examples:

      location_uri "locationURI" : uri

      iface_mappings /eth[0-9]/ :ip4

4.7.  Object Rules

   Object rules define the allowable members of a JSON object, and their
   rule definitions contain the member rules of the object.  They take
   the following form:

      rule_name { member_rule_1, member_rule_2 }

   The following rule example defines an object composed of two member

      response { location_uri, status_code }

   Given that where a rule name is found a rule definition of an
   appropriate type may be used, the above example might also be written

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      response { "locationUri" : uri, "statusCode" : integer }

   Rules given in the rule definition of an object rule do not imply
   order.  Given the example object rule above both

      { "locationUri" : "", "statusCode" : 200 }


      { "statusCode" : 200, "locationUri" : "" }

   are JSON objects that match the rule.

   Each member rule of an object rule is evaluated in the order in which
   they appear in the object rule.  Thus where there is potential
   conflict between rule names defined using regular expressions, the
   rules with the most constrained name should be defined first.
   Otherwise, for example, a rule definition of:

      { /p\d+/ : int, "p0" : string }

   would fail to match the JSON object:

      { "p1" : 12, "p0" : "Fred" }

   because the "p0" member name would match the regular expression
   despite the presence of the subsequently defined "p0" member rule.

4.8.  Array Rules

   Array rules define the allowable content of JSON arrays.  Their rule
   definitions are composed of the other rule types with the exception
   of member rules and have the following form:

      rulename [ target_rule_name_1, target_rule_name_2 ]

   The following example defines an array where the first element is
   defined by the width_value rule and the second element is defined by
   the height_value rule:

      size [ width_value, height_value ]

   By default, unlike object rules, order is implied by the array rule
   definition.  That is, the first rule referenced or defined within an
   array rule specifies that the first element of the array will match
   that rule, the second rule given with the array rule specifies that
   the second element of the array will match that rule, and so on.

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   Take for example the following array rule definition:

      person [ : string, : integer ]

   This JSON array matches the above rule:

      [ "Bob Smurd", 24 ]

   while this one does not:

      [ 24, "Bob Smurd" ]

   Finally, if an array has more elements than can be matched from the
   array rule, the array does not match the array rule.  Or stated
   differently, an array with unmatched elements does not validate.
   Using the example array rule above, the following array does not
   match because the last element of the array does not match any rule
   contained in the array rule:

      [ "Bob Smurd", 24, "" ]

4.8.1.  Unordered Array Rules

   Array rules can be made to behave in a similar fashion to object
   rules with regard to the order of matching with the @(unordered)

      person @(unordered) [ :string, :integer ]

   This rule matches both of theses JSON arrays.

      [ "Bob Smurd", 24 ]

      [ 24, "Bob Smurd" ]

   Like ordered array rules, the rules contained in an unordered array
   rule are evaluated in the order they are specified.  The difference
   is that they need not match an element of the array in the same
   position as given in the array rule.

   Like ordered array rules, unordered array rules also require that all
   elements of the array be matched by a subordinate rule.  If the array
   has more elements than can be matched, the array rule does not match
   the array.

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4.9.  Group Rules

   Unlike the other types of rules, group rules have no direct tie with
   JSON syntax.  Group rules simply group together other rules.  They
   take the form:

      rule_name ( target_rule_1, target_rule_2 )

   Group rule definitions and any nesting of group rule definitions,
   must conform to the allowable set of rules of the rule containing
   them.  A group rule referenced inside of an array rule may not
   contain a member rule since member rules are not allowed in array
   rules directly.  Likewise, a group rule referenced inside an object
   rule must only contain member rules.

   The following is an example of a group rule:

       the_bradys [ parents, children ]
       children ( :"Greg", :"Marsha", :"Bobby", :"Jan" )
       parents ( :"Mike", :"Carol" )

   Like the subordinate rules of array and object rules, the subordinate
   rules of a group rule are evaluated in the order they appear.

4.10.  Sequence and Choice Combinations in Array, Object, and Group

   Combinations of subordinate rules in array, object, and group rules
   can be specified as either a sequence ("and") or a choice ("or").  A
   sequence is a rule followed by the comma character (',') followed by
   another rule.

      [ this, that ]

   A choice is a rule followed by a pipe character ('|') followed by
   another rule.

      [ this | that ]

   Sequence and choice combinations maybe mixed, with evaluation
   occurring in the order the rules are specified (i.e. right to left).

      [ this, that | the_other ]

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4.11.  Repetition in Array, Object, and Group Rules

   Evaluation of subordinate rules in array, object, and group rules may
   be preceded by a repetition expression denoting how many times the
   subordinate rule should be evaluated.

   Repetition is expressed as a minimum number of repetitions and a
   maximum number of repetitions.  When no repetition expression is
   present, both the minimum and maximum are 1.

   A minimum and maximum can be expressed by giving the minimum followed
   by an asterisk ('*') character followed by the maximum: min*max.

      [ 1*13 name_servers ] ; 1 to 13 name servers

   If the minimum is not given, it is assumed to be zero.

      { *99 /eth.*/ mac_addr }; 0 to 99 ethernet addresses

   If the maximum is not given, it is assumed to be infinity.

      [ 2* octets ] ; two or more bytes

   If neither the minimum nor the maximum are given with the asterisk,
   this denotes "zero or more".

      error_set ( * error ) ; zero or more errors

   Repetition may also be expressed with a question mark character ('?')
   or a plus character ('+'). '?' is equivalent to '0*1'.

      { name, ?age } ; age is optional

   '+' is equivalent to '1*'

      [ + status ] ; 1 or more status values

4.12.  Rejecting Rules

   The evaluation of a rule can be changed with the @(reject)
   annotation.  With this annotation, a rule that would otherwise match
   does not, and a rule that would not have matched does.

       not_two @(reject) : 2
       ; match anything that isn't the integer 2

       @(reject) @(unordered) [ :"fail", *:string ]
       ; error if one of the status values is "fail"

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4.13.  Repetitions, Annotations, and Target Rules

   With regard to syntax, repetition expressions are part of the syntax
   of array, object, and group rules with respect to the embedding of
   subordinate rules, whereas annotations are a component of every type
   of rule definition.  Every type of rule definition may begin with a
   series of annotations.

   The significance is the placement of repetition expressions with
   respect to annotations: repetition expressions precede annotations.

   The following is correct:

      [ * @(unordered) [ foo ] ]

   The following is not:

      [ @(unordered) * [ foo ] ]

   Additionally, annotations may not decorate references to rules
   (target rule names).  The following is not correct:

      [ * @(unordered) bar ]

5.  Directives

   Directives modify the processing of a ruleset.  They appear on their
   own line in a ruleset, begin with a hash character ('#') and are
   terminated by the end of the line.  They take the following form:

      # directive_name optional_directive_parameters

   Directives may have other qualifiers after the directive name.

5.1.  jcr-version

   This directive declares that the ruleset complies with a specific
   version of this standard.  The version is expressed as a major
   integer followed by a period followed by a minor integer.

      # jcr-version 0.5

   The major.minor number signifying compliance with this document is
   "0.5".  Upon publication of this specification as an IETF proposed
   standard, it will be "1.0".

      # jcr-version 1.0

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   Ruleset authors are advised to place this directive as the first line
   of a ruleset.

5.2.  ruleset-id

   This directive identifies a ruleset to rule processors.  It takes the

      # ruleset-id identifier

   An identifier can be a URL (e.g., an inverted
   domain name (e.g. or any other form that conforms to
   the JCR ABNF syntax that a ruleset author deems appropriate.  To a
   JCR processor the identifier is treated as an opague, case-sensitive

5.3.  import

   The import directive specifies that another ruleset is to have its
   rules evaluated in addition to the ruleset where the directive

   This directive has the following form:

      # import identifier as alias

   The following is an example:

      # import as rfc9999

   The rule names of the ruleset to be imported may be referenced by
   prepending the alias followed by a period character ('.') followed by
   the rule name (i.e. "").  To continue the example above, if
   the ruleset at were to have a rule named
   'encoding', rules in the ruleset importing it can refer to that rule
   as 'rfc9999.encoding'.

6.  Tips and Tricks

6.1.  Any Member with Any Value

   Because member names may be specified with regular expressions, it is
   possible to construct a member rule that matches any member name:

      rule_name /.*/ target_rule_name

   As an example, the following defines an object member with any name
   that has a value that is a string:

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      user_data /.*/ : string

   Constructing an object member of any name with any type would
   therefore take the form:

      rule_name /.*/ : any

6.2.  Restricting Objects

   By default, members of objects which do not match a rule are ignored.
   The reason for this validation model is due to the nature of the
   typical access model to JSON objects in many programming languages,
   where members of the object are obtained by referencing the member
   name.  Therefore extra members may exist without harm.

   However, some specifications may need to restrict the members of a
   JSON object to a known set.  To construct an object rule specifying
   that no extra members are expected, the @(reject) annotation may be
   used with a regular expression as the last subordinate rule of the
   object rule.

      { member1, member2, + @(reject) /.*/ : any }

   This works because subordinate rules are evaluated in the order they
   appear in the object rule, and the last rule accepts any member with
   any type but fails to validate if one ore more of those rules are
   found due to the @(reject) annotation.

6.3.  Unrestricting Arrays

   Unlike object validation, array rules will not validate items of an
   array that do not match a subordinate rule of the array rule.  This
   processing model is due to the nature of the typical access pattern
   of JSON arrays in many programming languages, which is to iterate
   over the array.  Processes iterating over an array would need to take
   special steps for extra items of the array that are not specified,
   especially if the items were of a different type than those that are

   Like object rules, the subordinate rules of an array rule are
   evaluated in the order they appear.  To allow an array to contain any
   value after guaranteeing that it contains the necessary items, the
   last subordinate rule of the array rule should accept any item:

      [ item1, item2, * :any ]

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6.4.  Groups of Values

   In addition to specific primitive data types, value rules may contain
   a value choice rule.  The value choice rule, and any subordinate rule
   within it, must evaluate to a single primitive data type.

   The following is an example of a value choice rule embedded in a
   value rule:

      address : ( :ip4 | :ip6 )

6.5.  Groups in Arrays

   Groups may also be a subordinate rule of array rules:

      [ ( :ip4 | :ip6 ), :integer ]

   Unlike value rules, subordinate group rules in array rules may have
   sequence combinations and contain any rule type with the exception of
   member rules.

      [ ( first_name, ? middle_name, last_name ), age ]

   Of course, the above is better written as:

      [ name, age ]

      name ( first_name, ? middle_name, last_name )

6.6.  Groups in Objects

   Groups may also be a subordinate rule of object rules:

      { ( title, date, author ), + paragraph }

   Subordinate group rules in object rules may have sequence
   combinations but must only contain member rules.

       { front_matter, + paragraph }
       front_matter ( title, date, author )
       title "title" :string
       date "date" : full-date
       author "author" [ *:string ]
       paragraph /p[0-9]*/ :string

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6.7.  Group Rules as Macros

   The syntax for group rules accommodates one ore more subordinate
   rules and a repetition expression for each.  Other than grouping
   multiple rules, a group rule can be used as a macro definition for a
   single rule.

      paragraphs ( + /p[0-9]*/ : string )

6.8.  Comment Separated Rules

   Rules may be placed on the same line, but because they have no
   termination syntax this style of writing rules can be confusing to
   some readers:

      first_name "first name" :string last_name "last name" :string

   An empty comment can serve as a visual cue to denote the separation
   of the two rules:

      first_name "first name" :string ;; last_name "last name" :string

6.9.  Object Mixins

   Group rules can be used to create object mixins, a pattern for
   writing data models similar in style to object derivation in some
   programming languages.  In the example in Figure 4, both obj1 and
   obj2 have a members "foo" and "fob" with obj1 having the additional
   member "bar" and obj2 having the additional member "baz".

   mixin_group ( "foo" : integer, "fob" : uri )

   obj1 { mixin_group, "bar" : string }

   obj2 { mixin_group, "baz" : string }

                                 Figure 4

6.10.  Subordinate Rule Dependencies

   In object and array rules, there may be situations in which it is
   necessary to condition the existence of a subordinate rule on the
   existence of a sibling subordinate rule.  In other words,
   example_rule_two should only be evaluated if example_rule_one
   evaluates positively.  Or put another way, a member of an object or
   an item of an array may be present only on the condition that another
   member of item is present.

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   In the following example, the referrer_uri member can only be present
   if the location_uri member is present.

      response { ?( location_uri, ?referrer_uri ) }

7.  ABNF Syntax

   The following ABNF describes the syntax for JSON Content Rules.

jcr              = *( sp-cmt / directive ) [ root-rule ]
                   *( sp-cmt / directive / rule )

sp-cmt           = spaces / comment
spaces           = 1*( WSP / CR / LF )
comment          = ";" *( "\;" / comment-char ) comment-end-char
comment-char     = HTAB / %x20-3A / %x3C-10FFFF
                   ; Any char other than ";" / CR / LF
comment-end-char = CR / LF / ";"

directive        = "#" [ spaces ] directive-def eol
directive-def    = jcr-version-d / ruleset-id-d / import-d /
jcr-version-d    = jcr-version-kw spaces major-version "." minor-version
major-version    = integer
minor-version    = integer
ruleset-id-d     = ruleset-id-kw spaces ruleset-id
import-d         = import-kw spaces ruleset-id
                   [ spaces as-kw ruleset-id-alias ]
ruleset-id       = ALPHA *not-space
not-space        = %x21-10FFFF
ruleset-id-alias = name
tbd-directive-d  = directive-name [ spaces directive-parameters ]
directive-name   = name
directive-parameters = not-eol
not-eol          = HTAB / %x20-10FFFF
eol              = CR / LF

root-rule        = value-rule / array-rule / object-rule /
                   member-rule / group-rule

rule             = rule-name *sp-cmt rule-def

rule-name        = name
target-rule-name = [ ruleset-id-alias "." ] rule-name
name             = ALPHA *( ALPHA / DIGIT / "-" / "-" )

rule-def         = type-rule / member-rule / group-rule
type-rule        = value-rule / array-rule / object-rule /

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member-rule      = annotations
                   member-name-spec *sp-cmt (type-rule / type-choice)
member-name-spec = regex / q-string
type-choice      = "(" type-choice-items
                   *( choice-combiner type-choice-items ) ")"
type-choice-items = *sp-cmt ( type-choice / type-rule ) *sp-cmt

annotations      = *( "@(" *sp-cmt annotation-set *sp-cmt ")" *sp-cmt )
annotation-set   = reject-annotation / unordered-annotation /
                   root-annotation / tbd-annotation
reject-annotation = reject-kw
unordered-annotation = unordered-kw
root-annotation  = root-kw
tbd-annotation   = annotation-name [ spaces annotation-parameters ]
annotation-name  = name
annotation-parameters = *( spaces / %x21-28 / %x2A-10FFFF )
                   ; Not close bracket - ")"

value-rule       = annotations ":" *sp-cmt ( value-choice / value-def )
value-choice     = annotations
                   "(" *sp-cmt value-choice-items *sp-cmt ")"
value-choice-items = value-choice-item
                   *( choice-combiner value-choice-item )
value-choice-item = ":" *sp-cmt
                   value-def / value-choice / target-rule-name

value-def        = null-type / boolean-type / true-value / false-value /
                   string-type / string-range / string-value /
                   float-type / float-range / float-value /
                   integer-type / integer-range / integer-value /
                   ip4-type / ip6-type / fqdn-type / idn-type /
                   uri-type / uri-range / phone-type / email-type /
                   full-date-type / full-time-type / date-time-type /
                   base64-type / any
null-type        = null-kw
boolean-type     = boolean-kw
true-value       = true-kw
false-value      = false-kw
string-type      = string-kw
string-value     = q-string
string-range     = regex
float-type       = float-kw
float-range      = float-min ".." [ float-max ] / ".." float-max
float-min        = float
float-max        = float
float-value      = float
integer-type     = integer-kw

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integer-range    = integer-min ".." [ integer-max ] / ".." integer-max
integer-min      = integer
integer-max      = integer
integer-value    = integer
ip4-type         = ip4-kw
ip6-type         = ip6-kw
fqdn-type        = fqdn-kw
idn-type         = idn-kw
uri-type         = uri-kw
uri-range        = uri-template
phone-type       = phone-kw
email-type       = email-kw
full-date-type   = full-date-kw
full-time-type   = full-time-kw
date-time-type   = date-time-kw
base64-type      = base64-kw
any              = any-kw

object-rule      = annotations "{" *sp-cmt [ object-items *sp-cmt ] "}"
object-items     = object-item *( sequence-or-choice object-item )
object-item      = [ repetition *sp-cmt ] object-item-types
object-item-types = member-rule / target-rule-name / object-group
object-group     = "(" *sp-cmt [ object-items *sp-cmt ] ")"

array-rule       = annotations "[" *sp-cmt [ array-items *sp-cmt ] "]"
array-items      = array-item *( sequence-or-choice array-item )
array-item       = [ repetition ] *sp-cmt array-item-types
array-item-types = type-rule / array-group
array-group      = "(" *sp-cmt [ array-items *sp-cmt ] ")"

group-rule       = annotations "(" *sp-cmt [ group-items *sp-cmt ] ")"
group-items      = group-item *( sequence-or-choice group-item )
group-item       = [ repetition ] *sp-cmt group-item-types
group-item-types = type-rule / member-rule / group-group
group-group      = group-rule

sequence-or-choice = sequence-combiner / choice-combiner
sequence-combiner = *sp-cmt "," *sp-cmt
choice-combiner  = *sp-cmt "|" *sp-cmt

repetition       = optional / one-or-more / min-max-repetition /
                   min-repetition / max-repetition /
                   zero-or-more / specific-repetition
optional         = "?"
one-or-more      = "+"
zero-or-more     = "*"
min-max-repetition = min-repeat *sp-cmt "*" *sp-cmt max-repeat
min-repetition   = min-repeat *sp-cmt "*"

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max-repetition   = "*" *sp-cmt max-repeat
min-repeat       = p-integer
max-repeat       = p-integer
specific-repetition = p-integer

integer          = ["-"] 1*DIGIT
p-integer        = 1*DIGIT

float            = [ minus ] int frac [ exp ]
                   ; From RFC 7159 except 'frac' required
minus            = %x2D                          ; -
plus             = %x2B                          ; +
int              = zero / ( digit1-9 *DIGIT )
digit1-9         = %x31-39                       ; 1-9
frac             = decimal-point 1*DIGIT
decimal-point    = %x2E                          ; .
exp              = e [ minus / plus ] 1*DIGIT
e                = %x65 / %x45                   ; e E
zero             = %x30                          ; 0

q-string         = quotation-mark *char quotation-mark
                   ; From RFC 7159
char             = unescaped /
                   escape (
                   %x22 /          ; "    quotation mark  U+0022
                   %x5C /          ; \    reverse solidus U+005C
                   %x2F /          ; /    solidus         U+002F
                   %x62 /          ; b    backspace       U+0008
                   %x66 /          ; f    form feed       U+000C
                   %x6E /          ; n    line feed       U+000A
                   %x72 /          ; r    carriage return U+000D
                   %x74 /          ; t    tab             U+0009
                   %x75 4HEXDIG )  ; uXXXX                U+XXXX
escape           = %x5C              ; \
quotation-mark   = %x22      ; "
unescaped        = %x20-21 / %x23-5B / %x5D-10FFFF

regex            = "/" *( escape "/" / not-slash ) "/"
not-slash        = HTAB / CR / LF / %x20-2E / %x30-10FFFF
                   ; Any char except ";"
uri-template     = 1*ALPHA ":" not-space

;; Keywords
any-kw           = %x61.6E.79                      ; "any"
as-kw            = %x61.73                         ; "as"
base64-kw        = %x62.             ; "base64"
boolean-kw       = %x62.6F.6F.6C.65.61.6E          ; "boolean"
date-time-kw     = %x64.    ; "date-time"

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email-kw         = %x65.6D.61.69.6C                ; "email"
false-kw         = %x66.61.6C.73.65                ; "false"
float-kw         = %x66.6C.6F.61.74                ; "float"
fqdn-kw          = %x66.71.64.6E                   ; "fqdn"
full-date-kw     = %x66.75.6C.6C.2D.    ; "full-date"
full-time-kw     = %x66.75.6C.6C.2D.74.69.6D.65    ; "full-time"
idn-kw           = %x69.64.6E                      ; "idn"
import-kw        = %x69.6D.70.6F.72.74             ; "import"
integer-kw       = %x69.6E.          ; "integer"
ip4-kw           = %x69.70.34                      ; "ip4"
ip6-kw           = %x69.70.36                      ; "ip6"
jcr-version-kw   = %x6A.63.72.2D. ; "jcr-version"
null-kw          = %x6E.75.6C.6C                   ; "null"
phone-kw         = %x70.68.6F.6E.65                ; "phone"
reject-kw        = %x72.65.6A.65.63.74             ; "reject"
root-kw          = %x72.6F.6F.74                   ; "root"
ruleset-id-kw    = %x72.75.6C. ; "ruleset-id"
string-kw        = %x73.             ; "string"
true-kw          = %x74.72.75.65                   ; "true"
unordered-kw     = %x75.6E.6F.    ; "unordered"
uri-kw           = %x75.72.69                      ; "uri"

;; Referenced RFC 5234 Core Rules
ALPHA            = %x41-5A / %x61-7A   ; A-Z / a-z
CR               = %x0D         ; carriage return
DIGIT            = %x30-39      ; 0-9
HEXDIG           = DIGIT / "A" / "B" / "C" / "D" / "E" / "F"
HTAB             = %x09         ; horizontal tab
LF               = %x0A         ; linefeed
SP               = %x20         ; space
WSP              = SP / HTAB    ; white space

                          JSON Content Rules ABNF

8.  Acknowledgements

   Andrew Biggs and Paul Jones provided feedback and suggestions which
   led to many changes in the syntax.

9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1166]  Kirkpatrick, S., Stahl, M., and M. Recker, "Internet
              numbers", RFC 1166, DOI 10.17487/RFC1166, July 1990,

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   [RFC3339]  Klyne, G. and C. Newman, "Date and Time on the Internet:
              Timestamps", RFC 3339, DOI 10.17487/RFC3339, July 2002,

   [RFC3986]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform
              Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66,
              RFC 3986, DOI 10.17487/RFC3986, January 2005,

   [RFC4234]  Crocker, D., Ed. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", RFC 4234, DOI 10.17487/RFC4234,
              October 2005, <>.

   [RFC4648]  Josefsson, S., "The Base16, Base32, and Base64 Data
              Encodings", RFC 4648, DOI 10.17487/RFC4648, October 2006,

   [RFC5322]  Resnick, P., Ed., "Internet Message Format", RFC 5322,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5322, October 2008,

   [RFC5952]  Kawamura, S. and M. Kawashima, "A Recommendation for IPv6
              Address Text Representation", RFC 5952,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5952, August 2010,

   [RFC6570]  Gregorio, J., Fielding, R., Hadley, M., Nottingham, M.,
              and D. Orchard, "URI Template", RFC 6570,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6570, March 2012,

   [RFC7159]  Bray, T., Ed., "The JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Data
              Interchange Format", RFC 7159, DOI 10.17487/RFC7159, March
              2014, <>.

9.2.  Infomative References

              American Registry for Internet Numbers, "JSON Content
              Rules Validator (Work In Progress)",

              Codalogic, "cl-jcr-parser (Work In Progress)",

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Appendix A.  Testing Against JSON Content Rules

   One aspect of JCR that differentiates it from other format schema
   languages are the mechanisms helpful to developers for taking a
   formal specification, such as that found in an RFC, and evolving it
   into unit tests, which are essential to producing quality protocol

A.1.  Locally Overriding Rules

   As mentioned in the introduction, one tool for testing would be the
   ability to locally override named rules.  As an example, consider the
   following rule which defines an array of strings.

      statuses [ * :string ]

   Consider the specification where this rule is found does not define
   the values but references an IANA registry for extensibility

   If a software developer desired to test a specific situation in which
   the array must at least contain the status "accepted", the rules from
   the specification could be used and the statuses rule could be
   explicitly overridden locally as:

      statuses @(unordered) [ :"accepted", * :string ]

   Alternatively, the developer may need to ensure that the status
   "denied" should not be present in the array:

      statuses @(unordered) [ ? @(reject) :"denied", * :string ]

A.2.  Rule Callbacks

   In many testing scenarios, the evaluation of rules may become more
   complex than that which can be expressed in JCR, sometimes involving
   variables and interdependencies which can only be expressed in a
   programming language.

   A JCR processor may provide a mechanism for the execution of local
   functions or methods based on the name of a rule being evaluated.
   Such a mechanism could pass to the function the data to be evaluated,
   and that function could return to the processor the result of
   evaluating the data in the function.

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A.3.  Ruleset Checks

   Another method still under evaluation by the authors maybe to
   annotate rules with references to code directly embedded in a

       odd_int @(check-code my_code) : integer

       # code my_code(ruby-2.0)
       ## def my_def data
       ##   return data % 2
       ## end

Appendix B.  Combining Multiple Rulesets (Experimental)

      This section is experimental and subject to further development.

   Many work items within the IETF are defined by a core specification
   which is later enhanced by extension specifications.  JCR supports
   this pattern of working by using the (@augments) annotation.

   The parameters of the @(augments) annotation are a list of one or
   more target-rule-names that identify rules to be augmented.  The
   augmentation process consists of logically adding a reference to the
   rule name of the rule that contains the @(augments) annotation into
   each of the rules identified by the target-rule-names in the
   @(augments) annotation.

   As an example, assume we have a core specification that contains the
   following JCR:

       #ruleset-id com.example.core
       core { core-item1, core-item2 }
       more { core-item3, core-item4 }

   And a subsequently defined extension with the following JCR:

       #ruleset-id com.example.extension
       #import com.example.core as core
       extension @(augments core.core core.more) ext-item1

   The resultant core specification is treated as:

       #ruleset-id com.example.core
       core { core-item1, core-item2, __alias1.extension }
       more { core-item3, core-item4, __alias1.extension }

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   where '__alias1' is conceptually an automatically created alias that
   aliases 'com.example.extension'.

   Because multiple @(augments) annotations may specify the same target-
   rule-name, there can be no control over the order the augmentations
   are given in the target rule.  Hence the specified target-rule-names
   are only allowed to correspond to (unordered) objects, unordered
   arrays, and value choices.

   If the non-nested rules in the target rule are all combined using the
   choice combiner, then the augmenting rule is also combined using the
   choice combiner.  If the non-nested rules in the target rule are all
   combined using the sequence combiner, then the augmenting rule is
   also combined using the sequence combiner.  If the non-nested rules
   in the target rule use a combination of the choice combiner and
   sequence combiner, then the existing rules within the target group
   are logically nested within a group and the augmenting rule is
   combined using the sequence combiner.  For example, a target rule
   initially containing the following definition:

      core { core-item1, core-item2 | core-item3 }

   would be treated as follows after being augmented:

      core { (core-item1, core-item2 | core-item3), __alias1.extension }

   If it is desired to add more than one rule to a target rule then the
   augmenting rule can specify a group, for example:

      extension @(augments core.core core.more) (ext-item1, ext-item2)

Appendix C.  JCR Implementations

   The following implementations, [ARIN_JCR_VALIDATOR] and
   [CODALOGIC_JCR_VALIDATOR] have influenced the development of this

Authors' Addresses

   Andrew Lee Newton
   American Registry for Internet Numbers
   3635 Concorde Parkway
   Chantilly, VA  20151


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   Pete Cordell
   PO Box 30
   Ipswich  IP5 2WY


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