Binary data in jq


It seems that jq does not help with binary data.

I recently discovered that jq is not prepared to deal with binary data inside strings.

Let’s first create a JSON file with some binary data inside. This respects the rules set for valid JSON encoding:


Let’s see how it goes when decoded with JSON::PP:

$ printf '["\u00e8"]' | perl -MJSON::PP -e 'print decode_json(<>)->[0]' | xxd
00000000: e8

If you’re wondering, this corresponds to “è” when encoded with ISO-8859-1.

Let’s see how this goes with jq:

$ printf '["\u00e8"]' | jq -r '.[0]' | xxd
00000000: c3a8 0a                                  ...

Ouch. Not only there’s an added newline, but the binary data has been modified. How? Let’s see…

$ printf '["\u00e8"]' | jq -r '.[0]'

Now it’s clear: the string is being encoded in UTF-8 (and added a newline) before being printed in the output. Guess what? The UTF-8 encoding for Unicode code point U+00E8 (which is, according to the relevant current standard doc, LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH GRAVE, i.e. è), is… what printed out by jq:

$ perl -MEncode=encode -E 'print encode("UTF-8", "\x{e8}\x{0a}")' | xxd
00000000: c3a8 0a                                  ...

Admittedly, docs say that the raw in option -r/--raw means “raw strings” (as opposed to JSON texts), but I’d like it really… raw.


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