JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a popular data interchange format that is widely used in web applications. With the increasing popularity of JSON, it has become essential for SQL Server users to be able to parse and work with JSON data in their queries. In this tutorial, we will explore the process of parsing JSON in SQL Server, step by step.


Before we dive into parsing JSON in SQL Server, make sure you have the following prerequisites:

  • SQL Server installed on your machine
  • A sample JSON file or JSON data to work with

Step 1: Understanding JSON

To parse JSON in SQL Server, it is important to have a basic understanding of JSON structure. JSON consists of key-value pairs, where the keys are strings and the values can be strings, numbers, booleans, arrays, or nested JSON objects. Familiarize yourself with JSON syntax and structure before moving forward.

Step 2: Importing JSON Data

To parse JSON in SQL Server, we first need to import the JSON data into a table. SQL Server provides the OPENJSON function to parse JSON data and import it into a table. Here’s an example:

    Id INT,
    Name NVARCHAR(50),
    Age INT

    {"Id": 1, "Name": "John", "Age": 25},
    {"Id": 2, "Name": "Jane", "Age": 30},
    {"Id": 3, "Name": "Mike", "Age": 35}
    Id INT '$.Id',
    Name NVARCHAR(50) '$.Name',
    Age INT '$.Age'

In this example, we create a table called JsonData with columns for Id, Name, and Age. We then use the OPENJSON function to parse the JSON data and insert it into the JsonData table.

Step 3: Querying JSON Data

Once the JSON data is imported into a table, we can query it using standard SQL syntax. SQL Server provides several functions to work with JSON data, such as JSON_VALUE, JSON_QUERY, and JSON_MODIFY. Here are a few examples:

-- Get the Name of the person with Id = 2
SELECT JSON_VALUE(JsonData, '$[1].Name') AS Name
FROM JsonData

-- Get all the Names
SELECT JSON_VALUE(JsonData, '$[*].Name') AS Name
FROM JsonData

-- Get the JSON objects where Age > 30
SELECT JSON_QUERY(JsonData, '$[?(@.Age > 30)]') AS JsonData
FROM JsonData

In these examples, we use the JSON_VALUE function to extract specific values from the JSON data, and the JSON_QUERY function to retrieve JSON objects based on certain conditions.

Step 4: Modifying JSON Data

SQL Server also allows us to modify JSON data using the JSON_MODIFY function. Here’s an example:

-- Update the Age of the person with Id = 1
SET JsonData = JSON_MODIFY(JsonData, '$[0].Age', 26)
WHERE Id = 1

In this example, we use the JSON_MODIFY function to update the Age value of the JSON object with Id = 1.

Step 5: Handling Nested JSON

JSON data can also contain nested objects and arrays. SQL Server provides the ability to handle nested JSON using the CROSS APPLY operator. Here’s an example:

SELECT j.Id, j.Name, a.Address
FROM JsonData j
CROSS APPLY OPENJSON(j.JsonData, '$.Addresses')
    Address NVARCHAR(100) '$.Address'
) a

In this example, we use the CROSS APPLY operator along with the OPENJSON function to extract the Address value from the nested JSON array.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I parse JSON data in older versions of SQL Server?

A: JSON parsing functions are available in SQL Server 2016 and later versions. If you are using an older version of SQL Server, you may need to upgrade to a newer version to take advantage of JSON parsing capabilities.

Q: Are there any performance considerations when parsing JSON in SQL Server?

A: Parsing JSON in SQL Server can have performance implications, especially when working with large JSON datasets. It is recommended to optimize your queries and consider indexing the JSON columns for better performance.

Q: Can I use JSON functions in SQL Server with other database systems?

A: JSON functions in SQL Server are specific to SQL Server and may not be available in other database systems. If you are working with a different database system, consult the documentation or resources specific to that system for parsing JSON data.


Parsing JSON in SQL Server is a valuable skill for SQL Server users who need to work with JSON data in their queries. In this tutorial, we covered the basics of parsing JSON in SQL Server, including importing JSON data, querying JSON data, modifying JSON data, and handling nested JSON. With this knowledge, you can now confidently work with JSON in your SQL queries.

Remember to always refer to the official SQL Server documentation for more detailed information and examples.