We use a minimal JSON representation to output objects from the API. This may in the future be extended to use JSON:API if the functionality it offers is beneficial, however we are taking the approach of starting simple and extending if necessary. This could be done in a backwards compatible way by representing the same objects in a JSON:API structure as well as the simple JSON structure.
The structure we currently use is:
A single object A simple collection of attributes and their values. The attributes should be camel-cased.
A collection of objects This should have a root element matching the pluralised name of the object:
An error object We use the status code to represent the success or failure of a request. We also pass back an object with more information about the error:
MUST use camelCase property names:
Property names are restricted to ASCII strings. The first character must be a letter, or an underscore, and subsequent characters can be a letter, or a number.
To indicate they contain multiple values we prefer to pluralise array names. This implies that object names should in turn be singular.
Schema based JSON properties that are by design booleans must not be presented as nulls. A boolean is essentially a closed enumeration of two values, true and false. If the content has a meaningful null value, strongly prefer to replace the boolean with enumeration of named values or statuses - for example acceptedTermsAndConditions with true or false can be replaced with termsAndConditions with values yes, no and unknown.
OpenAPI, which is in common use, doesn’t support null field values (it does allow omitting that field completely if it is not marked as required). However that doesn’t prevent clients and servers sending and receiving those fields with null values. Also, in some cases null may be a meaningful value - for example, JSON Merge Patch RFC 7382) using null to indicate property deletion.
Empty array values can unambiguously be represented as the empty list,
Other media types may be used in following cases:
Transferring binary data or data whose structure is not relevant. This is the case if payload structure is not interpreted and consumed by clients as is. Example of such use case is downloading images in formats JPG, PNG, GIF.
In addition to JSON version alternative data representations (e.g. in formats PDF, DOC, XML) may be made available through content negotiation.
Represent date and time format as RFC 3339.
HTTP headers including the proprietary headers use the HTTP date format defined in RFC 7231.
Use the following standard formats for country, language and currency codes:
- (It is "GB", not "UK", even though "UK" has seen some use at Zalando)
- BCP-47 (based on ISO 639-1) for language variants
Whenever an API defines a property of type
integer, the precision must be defined by the format as follows to prevent clients from guessing the precision incorrectly, and thereby changing the value unintentionally:
|type||format||specified value range|
|integer||int32||integer between -2^31 and 2^31-1|
|integer||int64||integer between -2^63 and 2^63-1|
|integer||bigint||arbitrarily large signed integer number|
|number||float||IEEE 754-2008/ISO 60559:2011 binary64 decimal number|
|number||double||IEEE 754-2008/ISO 60559:2011 binary128 decimal number|
|number||decimal||arbitrarily precise signed decimal number|
The precision must be translated by clients and servers into the most specific language types. E.g. for the following definitions the most specific language types in Java will translate to
Integer for the
Use the date and time formats defined by RFC 3339:
for "date" use strings matching
date-fullyear "-" date-month "-" date-mday, for example:
for "date-time" use strings matching
full-date "T" full-time, for example
Note that the OpenAPI format
"date-time" corresponds to "date-time" in the RFC) and
2015-05-28 for a date (note that the OpenAPI format "date" corresponds to "full-date" in the RFC). Both are specific profiles, a subset of the international standard ISO 8601.
A zone offset may be used (both, in request and responses) — this is simply defined by the standards. However, we encourage restricting dates to UTC and without offsets. For example
2015-05-28T14:07:17Z rather than
2015-05-28T14:07:17+00:00. From experience we have learned that zone offsets are not easy to understand and often not correctly handled. Note also that zone offsets are different from local times that might be including daylight saving time. Localization of dates should be done by the services that provide user interfaces, if required.
When it comes to storage, all dates should be consistently stored in UTC without a zone offset. Localization should be done locally by the services that provide user interfaces, if required.
Sometimes it can seem data is naturally represented using numerical timestamps, but this can introduce interpretation issues with precision
- for example whether to represent a timestamp as 1460062925, 1460062925000 or 1460062925.000. Date strings, though more verbose and requiring more effort to parse, avoid this ambiguity.
Schema based JSON properties that are by design durations and intervals could be strings formatted as recommended by ISO 8601 (Appendix A of RFC 3339 contains a grammar for durations).