Fork me on GitHub

The basics

In What is a schema?, we described what a schema is, and hopefully justified the need for schema languages. Here, we proceed to write a simple JSON Schema.

Hello, World!

When learning any new language, it’s often helpful to start with the simplest thing possible. In JSON Schema, an empty object is a completely valid schema that will accept any valid JSON.

{ }

This accepts anything, as long as it’s valid JSON

"I'm a string"
{ "an": [ "arbitrarily", "nested" ], "data": "structure" }

The type keyword

Of course, we wouldn’t be using JSON Schema if we wanted to just accept any JSON document. The most common thing to do in a JSON Schema is to restrict to a specific type. The type keyword is used for that.


When this book refers to JSON Schema “keywords”, it means the “key” part of the key/value pair in an object. Most of the work of writing a JSON Schema involves mapping a special “keyword” to a value within an object.

For example, in the following, only strings are accepted:

{ "type": "string" }
"I'm a string"

The type keyword is described in more detail in Type-specific keywords.

Declaring a JSON Schema

Since JSON Schema is itself JSON, it’s not always easy to tell when something is JSON Schema or just an arbitrary chunk of JSON. The $schema keyword is used to declare that something is JSON Schema. It’s generally good practice to include it, though it is not required.


For brevity, the $schema keyword isn’t included in most of the examples in this book, but it should always be used in the real world.

{ "$schema": "" }

You can also use this keyword to declare which version of the JSON Schema specification that the schema is written to. See The $schema keyword for more information.

Declaring a unique identifier

It is also best practice to include an id property as a unique identifier for each schema. For now, just set it to a URL at a domain you control, for example:

{ "id": "" }

The details of The id property become more apparent when you start Structuring a complex schema.