JSON Parsing With Value Transformers

In the last tutorial we’ve seen how to use functional concepts to parse JSON into Swift models. One of the main problems with that code is it doesn’t support value transformations, ie., changing the values coming from JSON before assigning them to the model. Let’s try to implement it.

Posts in this series:
// JSON to Parse
let json: [String: Any] = [
    "name": "Bill",
    "age": 47,
    "is_married": "s"

// Our model
struct Person {
    let name: String
    let age: Int
    let isMarried: Bool

// Modified curry function
func makePerson(name: String) -> (age: Int) -> (isMarried: Bool) -> Person {
    return { age in { isMarried in
        Person(name: name, age: age, isMarried: isMarried)

As you can see, the is_married flag from JSON is either s or m depending on whether the Person is married or not. These strings need to be mapped into Bool before assigning them to our Person.

The parseIsMarried does this mapping for us:

func parseIsMarried(value: String) -> Bool? {
    switch value {
    case "s":
        return false
    case "m":
        return true
        return .None

For applying this transformation method, let’s define one more operator that has a higher precedence than <*>

infix operator <~~ {
    associativity left
    precedence 110  // Precedence slightly higher than <*>

// Operator that takes
//      x: Optional value of type A
//      f: Transformation function that maps from 
//         A to an Optional B (because the transformation can fail)
// and returns f(x) if x is present (applies the transformation)
func <~~<A, B>(x: A?, f: (A -> B?)) -> B? {
    guard let x = x else {
        return .None
    return f(x)

This newly defined operator can be used as follows:

makePerson <*> get(dict, key: "name")
           <*> get(dict, key: "age")
           <*> get(dict, key: "is_married")  <~~ parseIsMarried

The way it works is:

  • get function will retrieve the is_married value from JSON as a String
  • This value is passed to parseIsMarried function (because <~~ is having higher precedence than <*>)
  • The transformation function then maps the value to appropriate boolean value
  • This mapped value will then be passed to our curried function.

Using this transformation operator, we can even map nested objects as well.

The whole source code (along with more usecases for transformation) can be found in this gist