Build Status

Elevate is a JSON parsing framework that leverages Swift to make parsing simple, reliable and composable.


  • [X] Validation of full JSON payload
  • [X] Parse complex JSON into strongly typed objects
  • [X] Support for optional and required values
  • [X] Convenient and flexible protocols to define object parsing
  • [X] Large object graphs can be parsed into their component objects
  • [X] Error aggregation across entire object graph


  • iOS 8.0+ / Mac OS X 10.10+ / tvOS 9.0+ / watchOS 2.0+
  • Xcode 7.3+


  • Need help? Open an issue.
  • Have a feature request? Open an issue.
  • Find a bug? Open an issue.
  • Want to contribute? Fork the repo and submit a pull request.



Elevate aims to make JSON parsing and validation simple, yet robust. This is achieved through a set of protocols and classes that can be utilized to create Decodable and Decoder classes. By using Elevate’s parsing infrastructure, you’ll be able to easily parse JSON data into strongly typed model objects or simple dictionaries by specifying each property key path and its associated type. Elevate will validate that the keys exist (if they’re not optional) and that they are of the correct type. Validation errors will be aggregated as the JSON data is parsed. If an error is encountered, a ParserError will be thrown.

Parsing JSON with Elevate

After you have made your model objects Decodable or implemented a Decoder for them, parsing with Elevate is as simple as:

let avatar: Avatar = try Parser.parseObject(data: data, forKeyPath: "response.avatar")

Pass an empty string into forKeyPath if your object or array is at the root level.

Creating Decodables

In the previous example Avatar implements the Decodable protocol. By implementing the Decodable protocol on an object, it can be used by Elevate to parse avatars from JSON data as a top-level object, a sub-object, or even an array of avatar objects.

public protocol Decodable {
    init(json: AnyObject) throws

The json: AnyObject will typically be a [String: AnyObject] instance that was created from the NSJSONSerialization APIs. Use the Elevate Parser.parseProperties method to define the structure of the JSON data to be validated and perform the parsing.

struct Person: Decodable {
    let identifier: String
    let name: String
    let nickname: String?
    let birthDate: NSDate
    let isMember: Bool?
    let addresses: [Address]

    init(json: AnyObject) throws {
        let idKeyPath = "identifier"
        let nameKeyPath = "name"
        let nicknameKeyPath = "nickname"
        let birthDateKeyPath = "birthDate"
        let isMemberKeyPath = "isMember"
        let addressesKeyPath = "addresses"

        let dateDecoder = DateDecoder(dateFormatString: "yyyy-MM-dd")

        let properties = try Parser.parseProperties(json: json) { make in
            make.propertyForKeyPath(idKeyPath, type: .Int)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(nameKeyPath, type: .String)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(nicknameKeyPath, type: .String, optional: true)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(birthDateKeyPath, type: .String, decoder: dateDecoder)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(isMemberKeyPath, type: .Bool, optional: true)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(addressesKeyPath, type: .Array, decodedToType: Address.self)

        self.identifier = properties <-! idKeyPath
        self.name = properties <-! nameKeyPath
        self.nickname = properties <-? nicknameKeyPath
        self.birthDate = properties <-! birthDateKeyPath
        self.isMember = properties <-? isMemberKeyPath
        self.addresses = properties <--! addressesKeyPath

Implementing the Decodable protocol in this way allows you to create fully intialized structs that can contain non-optional constants from JSON data.

Some other things worth noting in this example:

  1. The Decodable protocol conformance was implemented as an extension on the struct. This allows the struct to keep its automatic memberwise initializer.
  2. Standard primitive types are supported as well as NSURL, Array, and Dictionary types. See ParserPropertyType definition for the full list.
  3. Elevate facilitates passing a parsed property into a Decoder for further manipulation. See the birthDate property in the example above. The DateDecoder is a standard Decoder provided by Elevate to make date parsing hassle free.
  4. A Decoder or Decodable type can be provided to a property of type .Array to parse each item in the array to that type. This also works with the .Dictionary type to parse a nested JSON object.
  5. The parser guarantees that properties will be of the specified type, so it is safe to use the custom operators to automatically extract the Any value from the properties dictionary and cast it to the return type.

Property Extraction Operators

Elevate contains four property extraction operators to make it easy to extract values out of the properties dictionary and cast the Any value to the appropriate type.

  • <-! - Extracts the value from the properties dictionary for the specified key. This operator should only be used on non-optional properties.
  • <-? - Extracts the optional value from the properties dictionary for the specified key. This operator should only be used on optional properties.
  • <--! - Extracts the array from the properties dictionary for the specified key as the specified array type. This operator should only be used on non-optional array properties.
  • <--? - Extracts the array from the properties dictionary for the specified key as the specified optional array type.

Advanced Usage


In most cases implementing a Decodable model object is all that is needed to parse JSON using Elevate. There are some instances though where you will need more flexibility in the way that the JSON is parsed. This is where the Decoder protocol comes in.

public protocol Decoder {
    func decodeObject(object: AnyObject) throws -> Any

A Decoder is generally implemented as a separate object that returns instances of the desired model object. This is useful when you have multiple JSON mappings for a single model object, or if you are aggregating data across multiple JSON payloads. For example, if there are two separate services that return JSON for Avatar objects that have a slightly different property structure, a Decoder could be created for each mapping to handle each one individually.

The input type and output types are intentionally vague to allow for flexibility. A Decoder can return any type you want – a strongly typed model object, a dictionary, etc. It can even dynamically return different types at runtime if needed.

Using Multiple Decoders

class AvatarDecoder: Decoder {
    func decodeObject(object: AnyObject) throws -> Any {
        let urlKeyPath = "url"
        let widthKeyPath = "width"
        let heightKeyPath = "height"

        let properties = try Parser.parseProperties(json: json) { make in
            make.propertyForKeyPath(urlKeyPath, type: .URL)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(widthKeyPath, type: .Int)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(heightKeyPath, type: .Int)

        return Avatar(
            URL: properties <-! urlKeyPath,
            width: properties <-! widthKeyPath,
            height: properties <-! heightKeyPath
class AlternateAvatarDecoder: Decoder {
    func decodeObject(object: AnyObject) throws -> Any {
        let locationKeyPath = "location"
        let wKeyPath = "w"
        let hKeyPath = "h"

        let properties = try Parser.parseProperties(json: json) { make in
            make.propertyForKeyPath(locationKeyPath, type: .URL)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(wKeyPath, type: .Int)
            make.propertyForKeyPath(hKeyPath, type: .Int)

        return Avatar(
            URL: properties <-! locationKeyPath,
            width: properties <-! wKeyPath,
            height: properties <-! hKeyPath

Then to use the two different Decoder objects with the Parser:

let avatar1: Avatar = try Parser.parseObject(
    data: data1, 
    forKeyPath: "response.avatar", 
    withDecoder: AvatarDecoder()

let avatar2: Avatar = try Parser.parseObject(
    data: data2, 
    forKeyPath: "alternative.response.avatar", 
    withDecoder: AlternateAvatarDecoder()

Each Decoder is designed to handle a different JSON structure for creating an Avatar. Each uses the key paths specific to the JSON data it’s dealing with, then maps those back to the properties on the Avatar object. This is a very simple example to demonstration purposes. There are MANY more complex examples that could be handled in a similar manner via the Decoder protocol.

Decoders as Property Value Transformers

A second use for the Decoder protocol is to allow for the value of a property to be further manipulated. The most common example is a date string. Here is how the DateDecoder implements the Decoder protocol:

public func decodeObject(data: AnyObject) throws -> Any {
    if let string = data as? String {
        return try dateFromString(string, withFormatter:self.dateFormatter)
    } else {
        let description = "DateParser object to parse was not a String."
        throw ParserError.Validation(failureReason: description)

And here is how it’s used to parse a JSON date string:

let dateDecoder = DateDecoder(dateFormatString: "yyyy-MM-dd 'at' HH:mm")

let properties = try Parser.parseProperties(data: data) { make in
    make.propertyForKeyPath("dateString", type: .String, decoder: dateDecoder)

You are free to create any decoders that you like and use them with your properties during parsing. Some other uses would be to create a StringToBoolDecoder or StringToFloatDecoder that parses a Bool or Float from a JSON string value. The DateDecoder and StringToIntDecoder are already included in Elevate for your convenience.