Newbie Question Re: JSON

I’m just learning to work with AJAX, which attracted my attention to JSON. It looks really cool, but I don’t think I’m seeing the big picture yet.

For example, I do a lot of work with information related to animals. So imagine the following JSON file describing the lion (Panthera leo):

  "genusName": "Panthera",
  "speciesName": "leo",
  "home": {
    "biome": "savanna",
    "ecozone": "Afrotropic, Indo-Malaya",
  "diet": [
      "type": "vertebrates",
      "behavior": "social"
  "ecology": {
    "type": "predator"

How would that be an improvement over putting the same information in a database table? Should I simply think of JSON as an alternative database (i.e. you can choose between MySQL or JSON)? Or does JSON offer some sort of advantage over a database?

In summary, JSON looks cool, but I haven’t yet grasped exactly what it can do that I’m not already doing with my database.


An ajax call can’t retrieve your database directly - you have to extract the data from the database and then convert the data to a version ajax can read - normally either xml or json.

json is the easiest format for JavaScript to work with because that’s just the simplest way to define objects in native JavaScript.

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Oh, that makes sense. Thanks.

Wow, I think you answered TWO questions… I’ve started exploring the possibility of using AJAX to display dynamic data. Apparently, it can be done. But I guess JSON would be an alternative way of doing that, too.

Yep, JSON is just the format that the data is sent in with these ajax requests, JSON is a text string representing the object, and besides a couple of edge cases you can convert back and forth.

var object = {
  text: 'yep',
  number: 123
var json = JSON.stringify(object);
var newObject = JSON.parse(json);

So you JSON.parse the string returned from the server and then can work with the dynamic data in JavaScript.

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