Friday, July 22, 2011

Android JSON Bug

Today I was working on some code that needed to invoke a JavaScript function on a web page that was being displayed in a WebView within an Android application. As part of that function invocation a JSON object is passed in. It's actually a pretty complex JSON object. Of course it must be passed in simply as a string and then parsed by the JavaScript to an object. Android includes the JSON "reference implementation", so naturally I wanted to use this instead of relying on some 3rd party JSON library that would fatten up my APK. The standard way to do this with the reference implementation is to create an instance of org.json.JSONObject and use its toString method. You can create an empty instance and programmatically build up a JSON data structure, or you can give it a Java Map to build from. I chose to go the latter route.
When my web page choked, I wasn't too surprised. I'm never surprised when code I write has bugs initially. I added a log statement to show the data being passed in and was surprised to see that it looked like this:
{"a": "{b={c=d}}", "e":"f"}
This was not correct. This should have looked like this:
{"a": "{"b":"{"c":"d"}"}", "e":"f"}
To create the JSONObject that I was passing in, I passed it in a HashMap whose keys were all strings but whose values were either strings or another HashMap. So to create the above structure there would be code like this:
HashMap<String,Object> top = new HashMap<String,Object>();
HashMap<String,Object> a = new HashMap<String,Object>();
HashMap<String,Object> b = new HashMap<String,Object>();
b.put("c", "d");
a.put("b", b);
a.put("e", "f");
It seemed that the JSONObject code was flattening out my objects and producing incorrect JSON (WTF equal signs!) as a result. I put together a quick workaround to recursively replace any HashMap values with JSONObjects like this:
JSONObject jsonIfy(HashMap<String,Object> map){
	HashMap<String,Object> fixed = new HashMap<String,Object>();
	for (String key : map.keySet()){
		Object value = map.get(key);
		if (value instanceof Map){
			value = jsonIfy((HashMap<String,Object>) value);
	return new JSONObject(fixed);
This worked perfectly.


Kevin said...

Is this a bug, or does that 'put' statement call toString on its HashMap argument rather than converting to a JSONObject....

Anonymous said...

Definitely a bug, since on newer versions of Android (notably Lollipop) creating Maps with plain Object as value type works as it should.

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