Use js2-mode as minor mode to process JSON

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Most people use js2-mode as a major mode for javascript. For JSON file, they prefer json-mode.

But if you truly understand the meaning of Software Freedom, you will realize "major-mode" and "minor-mode" are man-made concepts which actually have no difference.

In essence, a major mode is just a collection of APIs. We could use its APIs without enabling it, perfectly complying with "The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).".

Here are two examples.

Validate JSON

M-x my-validate-json-or-js-expression to validate the buffer.

C-u my-validate-json-or-js-expression to validate selected region.

(defun my-validate-json-or-js-expression (&optional not-json-p)
  "Validate buffer or select region as JSON.
If NOT-JSON-P is not nil, validate as Javascript expression instead of JSON."
  (interactive "P")
  (let* ((json-exp (if (region-active-p) (buffer-substring-no-properties (region-beginning) (region-end))
                     (buffer-substring-no-properties (point-min) (point-max))))
         (jsbuf-offet (if not-json-p 0 (length "var a=")))
         (first-err-pos (if (region-active-p) (region-beginning) 0)))
    (unless not-json-p
      (setq json-exp (format "var a=%s;"  json-exp)))
      (insert json-exp)
      (unless (featurep 'js2-mode)
        (require 'js2-mode))
      (setq errs (js2-errors))
       ((not errs)
        (message "NO error found. Good job!"))
        ;; yes, first error in buffer is the last element in errs
        (setq first-err (car (last errs)))
        (setq first-err-pos (+ first-err-pos (- (cadr first-err) jsbuf-offet)))
        (message "%d error(s), first at buffer position %d: %s"
                 (length errs)
                 (js2-get-msg (caar first-err))))))
    (if first-err (goto-char first-err-pos))))

Print JSON path

For example, you got JSON string {"a": {"b": 3}}. If you place cursor over 3 and M-x my-print-json-path, you got output a.b.

(defun my-print-json-path (&optional hardcoded-array-index)
  "Print the path to the JSON value under point, and save it in the kill ring.
If HARDCODED-ARRAY-INDEX provided, array index in JSON path is replaced with it."
  (interactive "P")
   ((memq major-mode '(js2-mode))
    (js2-print-json-path hardcoded-array-index))
    (let* ((cur-pos (point))
           (str (buffer-substring-no-properties (point-min) (point-max))))
      (when (string= "json" (file-name-extension buffer-file-name))
        (setq str (format "var a=%s;" str))
        (setq cur-pos (+ cur-pos (length "var a="))))
      (unless (featurep 'js2-mode)
        (require 'js2-mode))
        (insert str)
        (goto-char cur-pos)


As you can see, I use a few APIs from js2-mode while js2-mode is still disabled:

  • js2-errors
  • js2-get-msg
  • js2-print-json-path
  • js2-init-scanner
  • js2-do-parse
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