External Libraries: JSONCPP

JSONCPP is a library that allows reading, writing and manipulation of JSON data. JSON is a lightweight data-interchange format. It can represent numbers, strings, ordered sequences of values, and collections of name/value pairs. JSONCPP can be used to read in configuration files or write out data.

JSONCPP is available as a submodule for Tudat Bundle. This means that building and downloading gets taken care of by the top-level CMakeLists.txt. We even created an example application demonstrating the use of JSON and CSPICE for your convience. You can follow the instructions below if you do not wish to use Tudat Bundle.

Download and build JSONCPP library

Clone JSONCPP from the GitHub project page:

git clone https://github.com/open-source-parsers/jsoncpp jsoncpp


Make sure the folder is named jsoncpp (and not for example jsoncpp-master) as the FindJSONCPP.cmake file searches for the following file: jsoncpp/include/json/json.h.

You can now build the project with the flags -DJSONCPP_WITH_PKGCONFIG_SUPPORT=OFF -DJSONCPP_WITH_TESTS=OFF. Copy libjsoncpp.a to the jsoncpp/lib folder. After building this file can be found by default in the build directory build[-qtcreator]/src/lib_json/libjsoncpp.a. CMake can be configured to build the static library in the proper directory. Your final file structure should look as follows:

|-- include
|   |-- json
|       |-- assertions.h
|       |-- autolink.h
|       |-- config.h
|       |-- features.h
|       |-- forwards.h
|       |-- json.h
|       |-- reader.h
|       |-- value.h
|       |-- version.h
|       `-- writer.h
|-- lib
|   |-- libjsoncpp.a

Integrating JSONCPP in your application

  1. Copy FindJSONCPP.cmake into your CMAKE_MODULE_PATH.

  2. Change your project’s CMakeLists.txt to find and include the package:

    # Find JSONCPP library on local system.
    # Include JSONCPP directories.
    if(NOT APPLE)
       include_directories(SYSTEM AFTER "${JSONCPP_INCLUDE_DIR}")
    else( )
    endif( )
  3. Add the jsoncpp library to your applications target_link_libraries command:

    target_link_libraries(my_project tudat_[libs] jsoncpp ${Boost_LIBRARIES} )
  4. Include the json value header in your code and use the jsoncpp library:

    #include <json/json.h>
    #include <json/value.h>

Usage example: setting up a json configuration file

Consider the following configuration file called config.json:

// Configuration options
    // Default encoding for text
    "encoding" : "UTF-8",

    // Plug-ins loaded at start-up
    "plug-ins" : [
        "c++",  // trailing comment

    // Tab indent size
    // (multi-line comment)
    "indent" : { /*embedded comment*/ "length" : 3,

"use_space": true }

In your application you should include:

#include <json/json.h>
#include <json/value.h>
#include <fstream>
int main(){
// Construct Json Database
Json::Value jsonRoot;
jsonRoot["test"] = "hello"; // write value
std::cout << jsonRoot["test"].asString() << std::endl;

// Read file and overwrite Json database
std::string filename ("/full/path/to/file.json");
std::ifstream config_doc(filename.c_str(), std::ifstream::binary);
config_doc >> jsonRoot; // write file to jsonRoot
std::cout << jsonRoot["encoding"].asString() << std::endl;
std::cout << jsonRoot["test"].asString() << std::endl; // this instance is overwritten.

which will return:


Usage example: read an Eigen matrix or an Eigen vector

The following functions can be used to read a matrix or a vector from a Json file.

//// Read Json Array and return as Eigen Matrix
Eigen::MatrixXd ReadJsonMatrix( Json::Value Array )
    int rows = Array.size( );
    int cols = Array[0].size( );

    Eigen::MatrixXd Matrix( rows, cols );

    for(int i = 0 ; i<rows ; i++)
        for(int j=0 ; j<cols ; j++)
            Matrix(i,j) = Array[i][j].asDouble( );

//    std::cout << "Matrix size: rows = " << rows << " cols = " << cols << std::endl;
return Matrix;

//// Read Json Array and return as Eigen Vector
Eigen::VectorXd ReadJsonVector( Json::Value Array )
    int size = Array.size( );

    Eigen::VectorXd Vector( size );

    for(int i = 0 ; i < size ; i++)
        Vector(i) = Array[i].asDouble( );

    return Vector;

Json::Value settings = ReadConfigFile(folder,filename);
Eigen::MatrixXd A = ReadJsonMatrix(settings["A"]);
Eigen::VectorXd X0 = ReadJsonVector(settings["X0"]);
std::cout << A << std::endl;
std::cout << X0 << std::endl;

where the matrix A is defined in the config file as an array:

"A" : [[1,2,3],[3,4,5],[1,1]],
"X0" : [0.5,-0.25],

which will return:

1 2 3
3 4 5
1 1 0

The function uses the first row to define the number of columns of the matrix A. Note that the matrix A is defined using an Array with varying size. A 0 is inserted at A(3,3), because the array is not defined for this location.