JSON Support in SQL Server

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JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) support and a long-awaited feature of SQL Server has been added to the 2016 version, which will allow you to exchange JSON data between applications and SQL Server, parse JSON formatted data so it can be stored in a relational format and convert relational data into JSON formatted data. 

Microsoft has added some new functions to provide support for querying JSON data stored in SQL Server (ISJSON, JSON_VALUE and JSON_QUERY) as well as OPENJSON and FOR JSON, see Figure 1.

  • ISJSON - Test whether a string contains valid JSON
  • JSON_VALUE - Extracts a scalar value from a JSON string
  • JSON_QUERY - Extracts an object or an array


Figure 1. JSON functions in SQL Server (source: MSDN)

As Jovan points out, if you have JSON text, you can extract data from JSON or verify that JSON is properly formatted using built-in functions JSON_VALUE, JSON_QUERY and ISJSON. For more advanced querying and analysis, the OPENJSON function can transform an array of JSON objects into a set of rows. Any SQL query can be executed on the returned result set. Finally, there is the FOR JSON clause that enables you to format query results as JSON text.

We can start with a simple example. In the following Transact-SQL code, we will define a text variable where we will put some JSON text:


SET @json = 









"tags":["Sport", "Water polo"]




Now, we can extract values and objects from the JSON text using the JSON_VALUE and JSON_QUERY functions:


JSON_VALUE(@json, '$.type') as type,

JSON_VALUE(@json, '$.info.address.town') as town,

JSON_QUERY(@json, '$.info.tags') as tags

This query will return “Basic,” “Bristol” and ["Sport", "Water polo"] values. The JSON_VALUE function returns one scalar value from JSON text (e.g. strings, numbers, true/false) that is placed on a JSON path specified as the second parameter. JSON_QUERY returns an object or array (in this example an array of tags) on the JSON path. JSON built-in functions use JavaScript-like syntax to reference values and objects in JSON text via second parameter.

The OPENJSON function enables you to reference some array in JSON text and return elements from that array:

SELECT value

FROM OPENJSON(@json, '$.info.tags')

In this example, string values from the tags array are returned. However, the OPENJSON function can return any complex object.

Finally, there is a FOR JSON clause that can format any result set returned by a SQL query as JSON text:

SELECT object_id, name

FROM sys.tables


Be sure to check out his other posts, JSON Data or learn more in the SQL Server 2016 blog post series.


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