MongoDB: Convert BSON to JSON


MongoDB stores data in the form of JSON-like documents and uses BSON (binary encoded data format) to serialize the documents for storage and data transfers. MongoDB is great at BSON objects, but that’s not convenient all the times. Consider, you are developing a Webb App that requires server side implementation to render JSON objects? Some tiring work involved here..

This post focuses on this aspect of MongoDB and provides a solution with bson module of pymongo with an example (below)

In this example:

  • We first create a collection, add document to it and read the document
  • We then try to convert the document to JSON format with tornado.escape.json_encode() method or json.dump() and
  • With bson.json_util.dumps() method of pymongo

If you run this program, you would encounter an error like

{u'grade': u'Boring', u'timestamp': datetime.datetime(2012, 9, 10, 2, 41, 13, 437000), u'_id': ObjectId('504db5b91d41c81c1bf072d9'), u'id': u'1', u'name': u'C'}
    raise TypeError(repr(o) + " is not JSON serializable")
TypeError: datetime.datetime(2012, 9, 10, 2, 41, 13, 437000) is not JSON serializable

This suggests json.dumps() or tornado.escape module fails to convert timestamps to JSON type.

Solution here is to use dumps method of bson.json_util class to convert a BSON object to JSON..


Extra Notes:

bson.json_util class is available in latest pymongo-2.3 distro of pymongo. To uprgae your pymongo instance say, ‘pip install -U pymongo’

ubuntu@ubuntu:~/tornado-2.2$ sudo pip install -U pymongo
Downloading/unpacking pymongo
  Downloading pymongo-2.3.tar.gz (254Kb): 254Kb downloaded
  Running egg_info for package pymongo
Installing collected packages: pymongo
  Running install for pymongo
    building 'bson._cbson' extension
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c bson/_cbsonmodule.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/_cbsonmodule.o
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c bson/time64.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/time64.o
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c bson/buffer.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/buffer.o
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c bson/encoding_helpers.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/encoding_helpers.o
    gcc -pthread -shared -Wl,-O1 -Wl,-Bsymbolic-functions build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/_cbsonmodule.o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/time64.o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/buffer.o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/encoding_helpers.o -o build/lib.linux-i686-2.6/bson/
    building 'pymongo._cmessage' extension
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c pymongo/_cmessagemodule.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/pymongo/_cmessagemodule.o
    gcc -pthread -fno-strict-aliasing -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O2 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -fPIC -Ibson -I/usr/include/python2.6 -c bson/buffer.c -o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/buffer.o
    gcc -pthread -shared -Wl,-O1 -Wl,-Bsymbolic-functions build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/pymongo/_cmessagemodule.o build/temp.linux-i686-2.6/bson/buffer.o -o build/lib.linux-i686-2.6/pymongo/
Successfully installed pymongo



One thought on “MongoDB: Convert BSON to JSON

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s