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1. Overview

In this tutorial, we'll do a deep dive into Jackson Annotations.

We'll see how to use the existing annotations, how to create custom ones, and finally, how to disable them.

Further reading:

More Jackson Annotations

This article covers some lesser-known JSON processing annotations provided by Jackson.

Jackson – Bidirectional Relationships

How to use Jackson to break the infinite recursion problem on bidirectional relationships.

Getting Started with Custom Deserialization in Jackson

Use Jackson to map custom JSON to any java entity graph with full control over the deserialization process.

2. Jackson Serialization Annotations

First, we'll take a look at the serialization annotations.

2.1. @JsonAnyGetter

The @JsonAnyGetter annotation allows for the flexibility of using a Map field as standard properties.

For example, the ExtendableBean entity has the name property and a set of extendable attributes in the form of key/value pairs:

public class ExtendableBean {
    public String name;
    private Map<String, String> properties;

    @JsonAnyGetter
    public Map<String, String> getProperties() {
        return properties;
    }
}

When we serialize an instance of this entity, we get all the key-values in the Map as standard, plain properties:

{
    "name":"My bean",
    "attr2":"val2",
    "attr1":"val1"
}

Here's how the serialization of this entity looks in practice:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonAnyGetter_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    ExtendableBean bean = new ExtendableBean("My bean");
    bean.add("attr1", "val1");
    bean.add("attr2", "val2");

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);
 
    assertThat(result, containsString("attr1"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("val1"));
}

We can also use the optional argument enabled as false to disable @JsonAnyGetter(). In this case, the Map will be converted as JSON and will appear under the properties variable after serialization.

2.2. @JsonGetter

The @JsonGetter annotation is an alternative to the @JsonProperty annotation, which marks a method as a getter method.

In the following example, we specify the method getTheName() as the getter method of the name property of a MyBean entity:

public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    private String name;

    @JsonGetter("name")
    public String getTheName() {
        return name;
    }
}

Here's how this works in practice:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonGetter_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    MyBean bean = new MyBean(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);
 
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
}

2.3. @JsonPropertyOrder

We can use the @JsonPropertyOrder annotation to specify the order of properties on serialization.

Let's set a custom order for the properties of a MyBean entity:

@JsonPropertyOrder({ "name", "id" })
public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

Here's the output of serialization:

{
    "name":"My bean",
    "id":1
}

Then we can do a simple test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonPropertyOrder_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    MyBean bean = new MyBean(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
}

We can also use @JsonPropertyOrder(alphabetic=true) to order the properties alphabetically. In that case, the output of serialization will be:

{
    "id":1,
    "name":"My bean"
}

2.4. @JsonRawValue

The @JsonRawValue annotation can instruct Jackson to serialize a property exactly as is.

In the following example, we use @JsonRawValue to embed some custom JSON as a value of an entity:

public class RawBean {
    public String name;

    @JsonRawValue
    public String json;
}

The output of serializing the entity is:

{
    "name":"My bean",
    "json":{
        "attr":false
    }
}

Next here's a simple test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonRawValue_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    RawBean bean = new RawBean("My bean", "{\"attr\":false}");

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("{\"attr\":false}"));
}

We can also use the optional boolean argument value that defines whether this annotation is active or not.

2.5. @JsonValue

@JsonValue indicates a single method that the library will use to serialize the entire instance.

For example, in an enum, we annotate the getName with @JsonValue so that any such entity is serialized via its name:

public enum TypeEnumWithValue {
    TYPE1(1, "Type A"), TYPE2(2, "Type 2");

    private Integer id;
    private String name;

    // standard constructors

    @JsonValue
    public String getName() {
        return name;
    }
}

Now here's our test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonValue_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonParseException, IOException {
 
    String enumAsString = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(TypeEnumWithValue.TYPE1);

    assertThat(enumAsString, is(""Type A""));
}

2.6. @JsonRootName

The @JsonRootName annotation is used, if wrapping is enabled, to specify the name of the root wrapper to be used.

Wrapping means that instead of serializing a User to something like:

{
    "id": 1,
    "name": "John"
}

It's going to be wrapped like this:

{
    "User": {
        "id": 1,
        "name": "John"
    }
}

So let's look at an example. We're going to use the @JsonRootName annotation to indicate the name of this potential wrapper entity:

@JsonRootName(value = "user")
public class UserWithRoot {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

By default, the name of the wrapper would be the name of the class – UserWithRoot. By using the annotation, we get the cleaner looking user:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonRootName_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    UserWithRoot user = new User(1, "John");

    ObjectMapper mapper = new ObjectMapper();
    mapper.enable(SerializationFeature.WRAP_ROOT_VALUE);
    String result = mapper.writeValueAsString(user);

    assertThat(result, containsString("John"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("user"));
}

Here's the output of serialization:

{
    "user":{
        "id":1,
        "name":"John"
    }
}

Since Jackson 2.4, a new optional argument namespace is available to use with data formats such as XML. If we add it, it will become part of the fully qualified name:

@JsonRootName(value = "user", namespace="users")
public class UserWithRootNamespace {
    public int id;
    public String name;

    // ...
}

If we serialize it with XmlMapper, the output will be:

<user xmlns="users">
    <id xmlns="">1</id>
    <name xmlns="">John</name>
    <items xmlns=""/>
</user>

2.7. @JsonSerialize

@JsonSerialize indicates a custom serializer to use when marshalling the entity.

Let's look at a quick example. We're going to use @JsonSerialize to serialize the eventDate property with a CustomDateSerializer:

public class EventWithSerializer {
    public String name;

    @JsonSerialize(using = CustomDateSerializer.class)
    public Date eventDate;
}

Here's the simple custom Jackson serializer:

public class CustomDateSerializer extends StdSerializer<Date> {

    private static SimpleDateFormat formatter 
      = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss");

    public CustomDateSerializer() { 
        this(null); 
    } 

    public CustomDateSerializer(Class<Date> t) {
        super(t); 
    }

    @Override
    public void serialize(
      Date value, JsonGenerator gen, SerializerProvider arg2) 
      throws IOException, JsonProcessingException {
        gen.writeString(formatter.format(value));
    }
}

Now let's use these in a test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonSerialize_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException, ParseException {
 
    SimpleDateFormat df
      = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss");

    String toParse = "20-12-2014 02:30:00";
    Date date = df.parse(toParse);
    EventWithSerializer event = new EventWithSerializer("party", date);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(event);
    assertThat(result, containsString(toParse));
}

3. Jackson Deserialization Annotations

Next let's explore the Jackson deserialization annotations.

3.1. @JsonCreator

We can use the @JsonCreator annotation to tune the constructor/factory used in deserialization.

It's very useful when we need to deserialize some JSON that doesn't exactly match the target entity we need to get.

Let's look at an example. Say we need to deserialize the following JSON:

{
    "id":1,
    "theName":"My bean"
}

However, there is no theName field in our target entity, there is only a name field. Now we don't want to change the entity itself, we just need a little more control over the unmarshalling process by annotating the constructor with @JsonCreator, and using the @JsonProperty annotation as well:

public class BeanWithCreator {
    public int id;
    public String name;

    @JsonCreator
    public BeanWithCreator(
      @JsonProperty("id") int id, 
      @JsonProperty("theName") String name) {
        this.id = id;
        this.name = name;
    }
}

Let's see this in action:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonCreator_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
 
    String json = "{\"id\":1,\"theName\":\"My bean\"}";

    BeanWithCreator bean = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(BeanWithCreator.class)
      .readValue(json);
    assertEquals("My bean", bean.name);
}

3.2. @JacksonInject

@JacksonInject indicates that a property will get its value from the injection and not from the JSON data.

In the following example, we use @JacksonInject to inject the property id:

public class BeanWithInject {
    @JacksonInject
    public int id;
    
    public String name;
}

Here's how it works:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonInject_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
 
    String json = "{\"name\":\"My bean\"}";
    
    InjectableValues inject = new InjectableValues.Std()
      .addValue(int.class, 1);
    BeanWithInject bean = new ObjectMapper().reader(inject)
      .forType(BeanWithInject.class)
      .readValue(json);
    
    assertEquals("My bean", bean.name);
    assertEquals(1, bean.id);
}

3.3. @JsonAnySetter

@JsonAnySetter allows us the flexibility of using a Map as standard properties. On deserialization, the properties from JSON will simply be added to the map.

First, we'll use @JsonAnySetter to deserialize the entity ExtendableBean:

public class ExtendableBean {
    public String name;
    private Map<String, String> properties;

    @JsonAnySetter
    public void add(String key, String value) {
        properties.put(key, value);
    }
}

This is the JSON we need to deserialize:

{
    "name":"My bean",
    "attr2":"val2",
    "attr1":"val1"
}

Then here's how it all ties in together:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonAnySetter_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
    String json
      = "{\"name\":\"My bean\",\"attr2\":\"val2\",\"attr1\":\"val1\"}";

    ExtendableBean bean = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(ExtendableBean.class)
      .readValue(json);
    
    assertEquals("My bean", bean.name);
    assertEquals("val2", bean.getProperties().get("attr2"));
}

3.4. @JsonSetter

@JsonSetter is an alternative to @JsonProperty that marks the method as a setter method.

This is incredibly useful when we need to read some JSON data, but the target entity class doesn't exactly match that data, and so we need to tune the process to make it fit.

In the following example, we'll specify the method setTheName() as the setter of the name property in our MyBean entity:

public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    private String name;

    @JsonSetter("name")
    public void setTheName(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    }
}

Now when we need to unmarshall some JSON data, this works perfectly well:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonSetter_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
 
    String json = "{\"id\":1,\"name\":\"My bean\"}";

    MyBean bean = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(MyBean.class)
      .readValue(json);
    assertEquals("My bean", bean.getTheName());
}

3.5. @JsonDeserialize

@JsonDeserialize indicates the use of a custom deserializer.

First, we'll use @JsonDeserialize to deserialize the eventDate property with the CustomDateDeserializer:

public class EventWithSerializer {
    public String name;

    @JsonDeserialize(using = CustomDateDeserializer.class)
    public Date eventDate;
}

Here's the custom deserializer:

public class CustomDateDeserializer
  extends StdDeserializer<Date> {

    private static SimpleDateFormat formatter
      = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss");

    public CustomDateDeserializer() { 
        this(null); 
    } 

    public CustomDateDeserializer(Class<?> vc) { 
        super(vc); 
    }

    @Override
    public Date deserialize(
      JsonParser jsonparser, DeserializationContext context) 
      throws IOException {
        
        String date = jsonparser.getText();
        try {
            return formatter.parse(date);
        } catch (ParseException e) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);
        }
    }
}

Next here's the back-to-back test:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonDeserialize_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
 
    String json
      = "{"name":"party","eventDate":"20-12-2014 02:30:00"}";

    SimpleDateFormat df
      = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss");
    EventWithSerializer event = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(EventWithSerializer.class)
      .readValue(json);
    
    assertEquals(
      "20-12-2014 02:30:00", df.format(event.eventDate));
}

3.6. @JsonAlias

The @JsonAlias defines one or more alternative names for a property during deserialization.

Let's see how this annotation works with a quick example:

public class AliasBean {
    @JsonAlias({ "fName", "f_name" })
    private String firstName;   
    private String lastName;
}

Here we have a POJO, and we want to deserialize JSON with values such as fName, f_name, and firstName into the firstName variable of the POJO.

Below is a test making sure this annotation works as expected:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingUsingJsonAlias_thenCorrect() throws IOException {
    String json = "{\"fName\": \"John\", \"lastName\": \"Green\"}";
    AliasBean aliasBean = new ObjectMapper().readerFor(AliasBean.class).readValue(json);
    assertEquals("John", aliasBean.getFirstName());
}

4. Jackson Property Inclusion Annotations

4.1. @JsonIgnoreProperties

@JsonIgnoreProperties is a class-level annotation that marks a property or a list of properties that Jackson will ignore.

Let's look at a quick example ignoring the property id from serialization:

@JsonIgnoreProperties({ "id" })
public class BeanWithIgnore {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

Now here's the test making sure the ignore happens:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonIgnoreProperties_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    BeanWithIgnore bean = new BeanWithIgnore(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("id")));
}

To ignore any unknown properties in JSON input without exception, we can set ignoreUnknown=true of @JsonIgnoreProperties annotation.

4.2. @JsonIgnore

In contrast, the @JsonIgnore annotation is used to mark a property to be ignored at the field level.

Let's use @JsonIgnore to ignore the property id from serialization:

public class BeanWithIgnore {
    @JsonIgnore
    public int id;

    public String name;
}

Then we'll test to make sure that id was successfully ignored:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonIgnore_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    BeanWithIgnore bean = new BeanWithIgnore(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("id")));
}

4.3. @JsonIgnoreType

@JsonIgnoreType marks all properties of an annotated type to be ignored.

We can use the annotation to mark all properties of type Name to be ignored:

public class User {
    public int id;
    public Name name;

    @JsonIgnoreType
    public static class Name {
        public String firstName;
        public String lastName;
    }
}

We can also test to ensure the ignore works correctly:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonIgnoreType_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException, ParseException {
 
    User.Name name = new User.Name("John", "Doe");
    User user = new User(1, name);

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(user);

    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("name")));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("John")));
}

4.4. @JsonInclude

We can use @JsonInclude to exclude properties with empty/null/default values.

Let's look at an example excluding nulls from serialization:

@JsonInclude(Include.NON_NULL)
public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

Here's the full test:

public void whenSerializingUsingJsonInclude_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    MyBean bean = new MyBean(1, null);

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("name")));
}

4.5. @JsonAutoDetect

@JsonAutoDetect can override the default semantics of which properties are visible and which are not.

First, let's take a look at how the annotation can be very helpful with a simple example; let's enable serializing private properties:

@JsonAutoDetect(fieldVisibility = Visibility.ANY)
public class PrivateBean {
    private int id;
    private String name;
}

Then the test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonAutoDetect_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
 
    PrivateBean bean = new PrivateBean(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
}

5. Jackson Polymorphic Type Handling Annotations

Next let's take a look at Jackson polymorphic type handling annotations:

  • @JsonTypeInfo – indicates details of what type information to include in serialization
  • @JsonSubTypes – indicates sub-types of the annotated type
  • @JsonTypeName – defines a logical type name to use for annotated class

Let's examine a more complex example, and use all three – @JsonTypeInfo, @JsonSubTypes, and @JsonTypeName – to serialize/deserialize the entity Zoo:

public class Zoo {
    public Animal animal;

    @JsonTypeInfo(
      use = JsonTypeInfo.Id.NAME, 
      include = As.PROPERTY, 
      property = "type")
    @JsonSubTypes({
        @JsonSubTypes.Type(value = Dog.class, name = "dog"),
        @JsonSubTypes.Type(value = Cat.class, name = "cat")
    })
    public static class Animal {
        public String name;
    }

    @JsonTypeName("dog")
    public static class Dog extends Animal {
        public double barkVolume;
    }

    @JsonTypeName("cat")
    public static class Cat extends Animal {
        boolean likesCream;
        public int lives;
    }
}

When we do serialization:

@Test
public void whenSerializingPolymorphic_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    Zoo.Dog dog = new Zoo.Dog("lacy");
    Zoo zoo = new Zoo(dog);

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writeValueAsString(zoo);

    assertThat(result, containsString("type"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("dog"));
}

Here's what serializing the Zoo instance with the Dog will result in:

{
    "animal": {
        "type": "dog",
        "name": "lacy",
        "barkVolume": 0
    }
}

Now for de-serialization. Let's start with the following JSON input:

{
    "animal":{
        "name":"lacy",
        "type":"cat"
    }
}

Then let's see how that gets unmarshalled to a Zoo instance:

@Test
public void whenDeserializingPolymorphic_thenCorrect()
throws IOException {
    String json = "{\"animal\":{\"name\":\"lacy\",\"type\":\"cat\"}}";

    Zoo zoo = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(Zoo.class)
      .readValue(json);

    assertEquals("lacy", zoo.animal.name);
    assertEquals(Zoo.Cat.class, zoo.animal.getClass());
}

6. Jackson General Annotations

Next let's discuss some of Jackson's more general annotations.

6.1. @JsonProperty

We can add the @JsonProperty annotation to indicate the property name in JSON.

Let's use @JsonProperty to serialize/deserialize the property name when we're dealing with non-standard getters and setters:

public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    private String name;

    @JsonProperty("name")
    public void setTheName(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    }

    @JsonProperty("name")
    public String getTheName() {
        return name;
    }
}

Next is our test:

@Test
public void whenUsingJsonProperty_thenCorrect()
  throws IOException {
    MyBean bean = new MyBean(1, "My bean");

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));

    MyBean resultBean = new ObjectMapper()
      .readerFor(MyBean.class)
      .readValue(result);
    assertEquals("My bean", resultBean.getTheName());
}

6.2. @JsonFormat

The @JsonFormat annotation specifies a format when serializing Date/Time values.

In the following example, we use @JsonFormat to control the format of the property eventDate:

public class EventWithFormat {
    public String name;

    @JsonFormat(
      shape = JsonFormat.Shape.STRING,
      pattern = "dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss")
    public Date eventDate;
}

Then here's the test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonFormat_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException, ParseException {
    SimpleDateFormat df = new SimpleDateFormat("dd-MM-yyyy hh:mm:ss");
    df.setTimeZone(TimeZone.getTimeZone("UTC"));

    String toParse = "20-12-2014 02:30:00";
    Date date = df.parse(toParse);
    EventWithFormat event = new EventWithFormat("party", date);
    
    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(event);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString(toParse));
}

6.3. @JsonUnwrapped

@JsonUnwrapped defines values that should be unwrapped/flattened when serialized/deserialized.

Let's see exactly how this works; we'll use the annotation to unwrap the property name:

public class UnwrappedUser {
    public int id;

    @JsonUnwrapped
    public Name name;

    public static class Name {
        public String firstName;
        public String lastName;
    }
}

Now let's serialize an instance of this class:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonUnwrapped_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException, ParseException {
    UnwrappedUser.Name name = new UnwrappedUser.Name("John", "Doe");
    UnwrappedUser user = new UnwrappedUser(1, name);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(user);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("John"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("name")));
}

Finally, here's what the output looks like – the fields of the static nested class unwrapped along with the other field:

{
    "id":1,
    "firstName":"John",
    "lastName":"Doe"
}

6.4. @JsonView

@JsonView indicates the View in which the property will be included for serialization/deserialization.

For example, we'll use @JsonView to serialize an instance of Item entity.

First, let's start with the views:

public class Views {
    public static class Public {}
    public static class Internal extends Public {}
}

Next here's the Item entity using the views:

public class Item {
    @JsonView(Views.Public.class)
    public int id;

    @JsonView(Views.Public.class)
    public String itemName;

    @JsonView(Views.Internal.class)
    public String ownerName;
}

Finally, the full test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonView_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    Item item = new Item(2, "book", "John");

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writerWithView(Views.Public.class)
      .writeValueAsString(item);

    assertThat(result, containsString("book"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("2"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("John")));
}

6.5. @JsonManagedReference, @JsonBackReference

The @JsonManagedReference and @JsonBackReference annotations can handle parent/child relationships and work around loops.

In the following example, we use @JsonManagedReference and @JsonBackReference to serialize our ItemWithRef entity:

public class ItemWithRef {
    public int id;
    public String itemName;

    @JsonManagedReference
    public UserWithRef owner;
}

Our UserWithRef entity:

public class UserWithRef {
    public int id;
    public String name;

    @JsonBackReference
    public List<ItemWithRef> userItems;
}

Then the test:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJacksonReferenceAnnotation_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    UserWithRef user = new UserWithRef(1, "John");
    ItemWithRef item = new ItemWithRef(2, "book", user);
    user.addItem(item);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(item);

    assertThat(result, containsString("book"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("John"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("userItems")));
}

6.6. @JsonIdentityInfo

@JsonIdentityInfo indicates that Object Identity should be used when serializing/deserializing values, like when dealing with infinite recursion types of problems, for instance.

In the following example, we have an ItemWithIdentity entity with a bidirectional relationship with the UserWithIdentity entity:

@JsonIdentityInfo(
  generator = ObjectIdGenerators.PropertyGenerator.class,
  property = "id")
public class ItemWithIdentity {
    public int id;
    public String itemName;
    public UserWithIdentity owner;
}

The UserWithIdentity entity:

@JsonIdentityInfo(
  generator = ObjectIdGenerators.PropertyGenerator.class,
  property = "id")
public class UserWithIdentity {
    public int id;
    public String name;
    public List<ItemWithIdentity> userItems;
}

Now let's see how the infinite recursion problem is handled:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonIdentityInfo_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    UserWithIdentity user = new UserWithIdentity(1, "John");
    ItemWithIdentity item = new ItemWithIdentity(2, "book", user);
    user.addItem(item);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(item);

    assertThat(result, containsString("book"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("John"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("userItems"));
}

Here's the full output of the serialized item and user:

{
    "id": 2,
    "itemName": "book",
    "owner": {
        "id": 1,
        "name": "John",
        "userItems": [
            2
        ]
    }
}

6.7. @JsonFilter

The @JsonFilter annotation specifies a filter to use during serialization.

First, we define the entity and we point to the filter:

@JsonFilter("myFilter")
public class BeanWithFilter {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

Now in the full test, we define the filter, which excludes all other properties except name from serialization:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingJsonFilter_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    BeanWithFilter bean = new BeanWithFilter(1, "My bean");

    FilterProvider filters 
      = new SimpleFilterProvider().addFilter(
        "myFilter", 
        SimpleBeanPropertyFilter.filterOutAllExcept("name"));

    String result = new ObjectMapper()
      .writer(filters)
      .writeValueAsString(bean);

    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("id")));
}

7. Custom Jackson Annotation

Next let's see how to create a custom Jackson annotation. We can make use of the @JacksonAnnotationsInside annotation:

@Retention(RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
    @JacksonAnnotationsInside
    @JsonInclude(Include.NON_NULL)
    @JsonPropertyOrder({ "name", "id", "dateCreated" })
    public @interface CustomAnnotation {}

Now if we use the new annotation on an entity:

@CustomAnnotation
public class BeanWithCustomAnnotation {
    public int id;
    public String name;
    public Date dateCreated;
}

We can see how it combines the existing annotations into a simple custom one that we can use as a shorthand:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingCustomAnnotation_thenCorrect()
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    BeanWithCustomAnnotation bean 
      = new BeanWithCustomAnnotation(1, "My bean", null);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(bean);

    assertThat(result, containsString("My bean"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("dateCreated")));
}

The output of the serialization process:

{
    "name":"My bean",
    "id":1
}

8. Jackson MixIn Annotations

Next let's see how to use Jackson MixIn annotations.

For example, let's use the MixIn annotations to ignore properties of type User:

public class Item {
    public int id;
    public String itemName;
    public User owner;
}
@JsonIgnoreType
public class MyMixInForIgnoreType {}

Then let's see this in action:

@Test
public void whenSerializingUsingMixInAnnotation_thenCorrect() 
  throws JsonProcessingException {
    Item item = new Item(1, "book", null);

    String result = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(item);
    assertThat(result, containsString("owner"));

    ObjectMapper mapper = new ObjectMapper();
    mapper.addMixIn(User.class, MyMixInForIgnoreType.class);

    result = mapper.writeValueAsString(item);
    assertThat(result, not(containsString("owner")));
}

9. Disable Jackson Annotation

Finally, let's see how we can disable all Jackson annotations. We can do this by disabling the MapperFeature.USE_ANNOTATIONS as in the following example:

@JsonInclude(Include.NON_NULL)
@JsonPropertyOrder({ "name", "id" })
public class MyBean {
    public int id;
    public String name;
}

Now, after disabling annotations, these should have no effect and the defaults of the library should apply:

@Test
public void whenDisablingAllAnnotations_thenAllDisabled()
  throws IOException {
    MyBean bean = new MyBean(1, null);

    ObjectMapper mapper = new ObjectMapper();
    mapper.disable(MapperFeature.USE_ANNOTATIONS);
    String result = mapper.writeValueAsString(bean);
    
    assertThat(result, containsString("1"));
    assertThat(result, containsString("name"));
}

The result of serialization before disabling annotations:

{"id":1}

The result of serialization after disabling annotations:

{
    "id":1,
    "name":null
}

10. Conclusion

In this article, we examined Jackson annotations, just scratching the surface of the kind of flexibility we can get by using them correctly.

The implementation of all of these examples and code snippets can be found over on GitHub.

Jackson bottom

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17 Comments
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Max Kremer
Max Kremer
5 years ago

Great post! A bookmark must if working with Jackson

Ramkumar Balasubramanian
Ramkumar Balasubramanian
4 years ago

Hi. Great post. Can you tell me the proper position of the JsonProperty annotation? Should it be used with the field or with the getter/setter? Can you please tell me the difference? Thanks in advance.

Eugen Paraschiv
4 years ago

The annotation is flexible enough to be used either on the field or on the getter/setter. The difference is that if you use it on the field (or on both the getter and the setter) – it will inform both the marshalling and unmarshalling processes.
If however you chose to only put it on the getter or the setter, it will only drive one of the processes, but not both.
Hope that clears things up. Cheers,
Eugen.

Anton Guba
Anton Guba
4 years ago

Great post! Sometimes there is a need to customize serialization and deserialization dynamically. E.g. there are some core classes in jar and I can not add annotations for them. What could you advise in this case as alternative solution?

Eugen Paraschiv
4 years ago
Reply to  Anton Guba

Hey Anton – so, Jackson can also be configured programmatically. Of course it depends on your usecase, but you can do most things without hardcoding the implementation.
Hope that helps. Cheers,
Eugen.

Cyril
Cyril
4 years ago

JsonAnySetter doesn’t necessarily need to be used with a Map though, right? You can do whatever you want with the key/value inside the method you annotated with @JsonAnySetter. Might be useful for other scenarios..

Eugen Paraschiv
4 years ago
Reply to  Cyril

Hey Cyril – no, definitely not. It’s just about the entry-point (the 2-arg method) but what you do after that point is not relevant for Jackson.
Cheers,
Eugen.

Victor
Victor
4 years ago

Is there any way to externalize the @JsonProperty annotation?
I am getting different field names depending on the environment.
For example in dev1 environment I am getting:
{ “id” : 1234, “name1” : “John” }
But in dev2 environment I am getting:
{ “id” : 1234, “name2” : “John” }

Is there a way to annotate the Java property with the @JsonProperty annotation so that the name value is externalized in a properties file (i.e. controlled by deployment packaging)?

like the following:

@JsonProperty(“${env.nameField}”)
private String name;

Eugen Paraschiv
4 years ago
Reply to  Victor

Hey Victor – yes there is, but not using expressions (unfortunately). The ObjectMapper in Jackson is actually quite flexible and in most cases you can configure things on it instead of on the POJOs directly. That’s because sometimes you don’t have write-access on these, or it’s just easier to do it globally. So – in your case, that’s what I’d look at (and some of the more advanced Jackson articles here on the site do cover that for various scenarios).
Hope that helps. Cheers,
Eugen.

Victor
Victor
4 years ago

Thanks a lot, Eugen. I will research more on the ObjectMapper!
Best Regards,
victor

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