Bric-à-brac: JSON Schema for Swift on Linux, Windows, and Apple Platforms

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Build Status Swift Package Manager compatible Platform

Bric-à-brac is a Swift toolkit for JSON. It facilitates working with efficient in-memory representations of JSON types and includes features for working with JSON Schema (Draft 7): utilities for parsing and validating generated ".schema.json" files, as well as data structures to support common schema idioms (such as "oneOf"/"anyOf"/"allOf" types).


  • Integrates with Swift's built-in Codable features
  • Generate Swift value types from JSON Schema (Draft 7)
  • A simple immutable value model for JSON language elements
  • Type-based (de)serialization of custom objects (no reflection, no intrusion)
  • No dependencies other than Foundation
  • A efficient streaming & key-order-preserving JSON parser (optional)
  • Supported and tested on Linux, Windows, and Apple Platforms.


Bric-à-brac consists of two separate components: the BricBrac runtime library and the Curio JSON Schema-to-Swift generation tool.


BricBrac is a support library that contains convenience features for serializing instances to an intermediate JSON Bric type. Swift's Codable feature supports serializing and de-serializing instances to JSON Data, BricBrac allows these types to be represented in an intermediate form so they can be examined and manipulated.

BricBrac API

A Bric acts as a fluent API for creating JSON instances using very similar syntax. It is implemented using an enum with cases for each of JSON's basic types:

public enum Bric {
    case arr([Bric]) // Array
    case obj([String: Bric]) // Dictionary
    case str(String) // String
    case num(Double) // Number
    case bol(Bool) // Boolean
    case nul // Null

Bric includes extensions to permit the creation of instances using the various ExpressibleBy*Literal protocol implementations of String, Double, Array, and Dictionary:

let num: Bric = 1 // or: let num = Bric.num(1)
let bol: Bric = true // or: let bol = Bric.bol(true)
let arr: Bric = [1, 2, 3] // or: let arr = Bric.arr([Bric.num(1), Bric.num(2), Bric.num(3)])
let het: Bric = [1, true, "x"] // or: let het = Bric.arr([Bric.num(1), Bric.bol(true), Bric.str("x")])
let obj: Bric = [ "x": true, "y": 1.3, "z": [true, "F", null] ] //  note: braces instead of curly for JSON objects

Any instance that supports Encodable automatically has a bricEncoded() function added to it which will return a Bric instance. This allows the conversion to a Swift Codable instance into a generic in-memory JSON representation, which can be useful for debugging, conversion between types, or unit testing:

  let obj = MyInstance(tint: Color(value: "blue"))
  XCTAssertEqual(["tint":["color":["value":"blue"]]], try obj.bricEncoded())



Curio is a tool that generates swift value types (structs and enums) from a valid JSON Schema (Draft 5) file. Note that the Curio tool may generate code that has a dependency on the BricBrac library, but Curio itself never needs to be included as a runtime dependency.


For the following Food.jsonschema file:

    "$schema": "",
    "title": "Food",
    "type": "object",
    "required": ["title", "type"],
    "properties": {
      "title": {
        "type": "string"
      "calories": {
        "type": "integer"
      "type": {
        "enum": ["protein", "carbohydrate", "fat"]

Curio will generate the following Food.swift code:

public struct Food : Equatable, Hashable, Codable {
    public var title: String
    public var type: `Type`
    public var calories: Int?
    public init(title: String, type: `Type`, calories: Int? = .none) {
        self.title = title
        self.type = type
        self.calories = calories
    public enum CodingKeys : String, CodingKey, CaseIterable {
        case title
        case type
        case calories

    public enum `Type` : String, Equatable, Hashable, Codable, CaseIterable {
        case protein
        case carbohydrate
        case fat

Real-world example

A very large (5MB, ~50K SLOC) real-world example of a generated schema can be seen at ( It is generated from ( using the generateGGSchema at ( Since that project is the raison d'être for Curio, it can be used as a fairly complete guide to what sorts of customizations of the schema are possible: conditional renaming, selective boxing, injection of additional properties, optional conformance to Identifiable, etc.

BricBrac & Curio Additions

In addition to providing the core Bric functionality.

JSON Schema

A JSONSchema struct is included, which permits the parsing of JSON Schema (Draft 7) instances. This is used by Curio for generating Swift Codable structs from JSON Schema definitions, and can also be used at runtime by clients who need to support JSON Schema.


JSON APIs (especially ones based on JSON Schema) frequently permit a property to be one of a list of types. For example, a property might contain either a string or a number. This works well in JavaScript's untyped environment, but can be challenging to represent in a strongly typed language like Swift.

Since Swift does not include a generic Either type, BricBrac.OneOf<A>.Or<B> (which is an alias to BricBrac.OneOf2<A, B>) can be used to represent either of two types. Similarly, BricBrac.OneOf<A>.Or<B>.Or<C> (which is an alias to BricBrac.OneOf3<A, B, C>) can be used to represent either of three types. The types go all the way to OneOf10<A, B, …, ∆>.

Since there is no notion of a type discriminator in JSON Schema (or JSON itself), decoding of the OneOfX<…> types is done via brute-force: it first tries to decode A from the data, and if it fails, tries to decode B, then C, etc. Since Swift's error throwing mechanism is lighter-weight than in other high-level languages, this tends to not impact performance considerably, but custom decoding logic can be mixed in when needed.

Note: A more pernicious issue can arise from ambiguously-encoded types. For example, OneOf2<Int, Double>(1.0) will encode the Double to JSON as "1.0", but when decoded, it will be decoded in the Int side. Care must be taken to ensure that types in a oneOf cannot be encoded in an ambiguous way. Using a discriminator enum value for each possible complex type is the standard way of dealing with this issue.

Indirect Recursive Types

JSON schemas can have properties that optionally contain themselves, which is not permitted with Swift Optionals. Curio handles this by permitting the declaration of fields that should be wrapped by an BricBrac.Indirect, which is simply defined as:

@propertyWrapper public indirect enum Indirect<Wrapped> : WrapperType, RawIsomorphism {
    case some(Wrapped)

The indirect nature of the enum is now generated as:

public struct MyCurioGeneratedStruct : Codable {
    public var someField: String
    // public var anotherMe: MyCurioGeneratedStruct? // this would be illegal
    public var anotherMe: MyCurioGeneratedStruct? {
        get { _anotherMe.wrappedValue }
        set { _anotherMe.wrappedValue = newValue }
    private var _anotherMe: Indirect<MyCurioGeneratedStruct>?
    public enum CodingKeys : String, CodingKey, Hashable, CaseIterable {
        case someField
        case _anotherMe = "anotherMe" // serialization-compatible with the schema

Stack Limits

Indirect can also be conditionally opted-into on a per-property basis. This can be useful for keeping down the stack size of a large network of structs so they can be loaded in environments with small stack capacity.

This is specifically useful for loading from JSON on background queues on Apple platforms that have a fixed 512K stack size (as opposed to the main thread's 8MB of stack size). If your code runs fine on the main thread but is crashing on background queues, marking some of your heavier properties as Indirect may help work around the issue. See


Curio can optionally synthesize conformance to Identifiable for a JSON schema, even when the schema item itself does not have any notion of identifiability.

Brac (Deprecated)

The Brac type enables custom creation of Bric instances from a network of types. It was created before Swift had any Codable support and is currently obsolete. It is deprecated and will be removed in the future.

Curio Build Integration

You can automatically generate Codable swift structs from your JSON schema files at build time, which is useful when you are frequently changing you schema and need to have an up-to-date serialization-compatable represenation in swift.


  • Add a Build Rule
  • Set the name to "JSON Schema Compiler"
  • From the "Process" menu, select "Source files with names matching:"
  • Next to the menu, enter "*.jsonschema"
  • From the "Using" menu, select "Custom script"
  • In the text area below, paste the following script:
  • Under the "Output Files" section, click the plus sign to add a new output file, and then enter: $(BUILT_PRODUCTS_DIR)/$(INPUT_FILE_BASE).swift

Now any file with the suffix ".jsonschema" will automatically have a Swift file generated in the ${SRCDIR}. After the first time this is run you will need to manually add the subsequently generated files to your project's source files, but any changes to the JSON Schema files will then be reflected in the generated sources as part of the build process.


Swift Package Manager (SPM)

The Swift Package Manager is a dependency manager integrated with the Swift build system. To learn how to use the Swift Package Manager for your project, please read the official documentation.

Add BricBrac to the dependencies of your Package.swift file and refer to that dependency in your target.

// swift-tools-version:5.0
import PackageDescription
let package = Package(
    name: "<Your Product Name>",
    dependencies: [
        .package(url: "", .upToNextMajor(from: "2"))
    targets: [
        .target(name: "<Your Target Name>", dependencies: ["BricBrac"])


There are many libraries in Swift for working with JSON. Most of them were obsolesced by the introduction of Swift 4's Codable protocol, and persist in a moribund state.

Since Bric-à-Brac aims to augment Swift's Codable features rather than re-implement them, it generally inter-operates seamlessly with other popular frameworks, such as:


  • Swift Tools 5.3.0
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Last updated: Mon Nov 07 2022 23:37:15 GMT-0500 (GMT-05:00)