JSON vs. NDJSON: Choosing the Right Format for Data Streaming


In the world of data interchange and streaming, two popular formats often come into play: JSON and NDJSON (Newline Delimited JSON). While both formats are based on JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), they have distinct characteristics and use cases. In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between JSON and NDJSON, their advantages, and when to choose one over the other for data streaming applications.

Understanding JSON (JavaScript Object Notation):

JSON is a widely adopted data interchange format known for its simplicity and human-readability. It represents data as a collection of key-value pairs, enclosed in curly braces ({}) and separated by commas.

JSON's hierarchical structure allows for nesting objects and arrays, making it suitable for representing complex data structures. It is widely supported by programming languages and frameworks, making it an excellent choice for data storage, APIs, and configuration files.

Introducing NDJSON (Newline Delimited JSON):

NDJSON is a variant of JSON that stores multiple JSON objects in a stream, separated by newlines (\n). Unlike regular JSON, which represents an entire object hierarchy in a single file, NDJSON breaks each object into separate lines.

The simplicity of NDJSON makes it suitable for scenarios where data is generated or consumed in a continuous stream. Each line represents a self-contained JSON object, making it easier to process large datasets without needing to load the entire file into memory.

Advantages of JSON:

Structure and Hierarchical Representation: JSON's ability to represent complex data structures with nesting allows for flexible data modeling and easy manipulation.

Familiarity and Widespread Support: JSON is a well-established standard supported by a wide range of programming languages and libraries, making it easy to work with across different platforms.

Serialization and Deserialization: JSON can be easily serialized and deserialized, making it ideal for data storage, APIs, and inter-application communication.

Advantages of NDJSON:

Stream Processing: NDJSON's line-by-line structure makes it suitable for real-time data streaming, where each line can be processed independently without loading the entire dataset into memory.

Memory Efficiency: NDJSON's streaming nature allows for efficient processing of large datasets by reading and processing one line at a time, minimizing memory usage.

Compatibility with Line-Oriented Tools: NDJSON integrates well with tools and utilities that process data in a line-oriented fashion, such as command-line tools and log analyzers.

Use Cases for JSON:

Data Storage and Interchange: JSON is widely used for storing and exchanging data due to its human-readability and broad language support. It's commonly used in web APIs, databases, and configuration files.

Complex Data Structures: JSON's hierarchical structure makes it suitable for representing complex relationships and nested data structures.

Use Cases for NDJSON:

Real-Time Data Streaming: NDJSON excels in scenarios where data is continuously generated or consumed in a streaming fashion. It is commonly used for logging, event sourcing, and data pipelines.

Memory-Constrained Environments: When dealing with large datasets, NDJSON's streaming approach allows for efficient processing and reduced memory footprint.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Format:

Data Structure and Relationships: If your data has complex relationships and nested structures, JSON may be the more suitable choice.

Streaming and Real-Time Processing: If your application deals with real-time data streams or requires memory-efficient processing of large datasets, NDJSON is worth considering.

Tooling and Library Support: Evaluate the tooling and libraries available for both JSON and NDJSON in your preferred programming language to ensure compatibility and ease of implementation.


Both JSON and NDJSON offer valuable capabilities for data interchange and streaming. JSON's hierarchical structure and widespread support make it ideal for representing complex data structures and general data storage. On the other hand, NDJSON's streaming nature and memory efficiency make it a great choice for real-time data streaming and scenarios with memory constraints.

Consider the specific requirements of your project, such as data structure, streaming needs, and memory constraints, to determine whether JSON or NDJSON is the most appropriate choice. Understanding the strengths and use cases of each format will empower you to make informed decisions when it comes to data streaming and interchange in your applications.


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