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A JSON text must at least contain two octets

Posted by: admin November 30, 2017 Leave a comment


I received this error, and I couldn’t find any reasonable answer to this question, so I thought I’d write a summary of the problem.

If you run this snippet in irb:

JSON.parse( nil )

You’ll see the following error:

TypeError: can't convert nil into String

I was kind of expecting the function to return nil, and not a TypeError. If you convert all input using to_s, then you’ll see the octet error:

JSON::ParserError: A JSON text must at least contain two octets!

That’s just fine and well. If you don’t know what an octet is, read this post for a summary and solution:
What is a JSON octet and why are two required?


The variable you’re passing in is an empty string. Don’t attempt to use an empty string in the JSON.parse method.


So, now I know the cause of the error, what pattern should I use to handle this? I’m a bit loathe to monkey patch the JSON library to allow nil values. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

parsed = json && json.length >= 2 ? JSON.parse(json) : nil

But really the library should be able to handle this case and return nil. Web browsers with built-in JSON support seem to work just like you expect after all.

Or to do it with a only slightly intrusive mini patch:

module JSON
  def self.parse_nil(json)
    JSON.parse(json) if json && json.length >= 2

parsed = JSON.parse_nil(json)


According to json.org

JSON is built on two structures:

  1. A collection of name/value pairs. In various languages, this is realized as an object, record, struct, dictionary, hash table, keyed list, or associative array.

  2. An ordered list of values. In most languages, this is realized as an array, vector, list, or sequence.

So, minimum two octets(8 bits) required at the top level would be {} or []

IMO, the best solution would be to make sure the argument to JSON.parse is either an strigified object or a strigified array. 🙂

data.presence && JSON.parse(data)

JSON.parse(data.presence || '{}')

hash = JSON.parse(json) rescue {}
array = JSON.parse(json) rescue []
string = JSON.parse(json) rescue ''