How do I use an Avro schema to validate JSON?

I'd like to know the feasibility of using an Avro schema to validate JSON that comes into my app. In this post, Doug Cutting suggests using the jsontofrag tool that comes with the avro-tools jar. His example is a trivial one of a JSON "document" that is just a number:

echo 2 | java -jar avro-tools.jar jsontofrag '"int"' - | java -jar avro-tools.jar fragtojson '"int"' - 

While this works, I'd like to know how to do it with a more interesting JSON doc.

When I try this with the example JSON doc and schema on the Avro website it fails, like so:

The Avro schema:

{"namespace": "example.avro",
 "type": "record",
 "name": "User",
 "fields": [
     {"name": "name", "type": "string"},
     {"name": "favorite_number",  "type": ["int", "null"]},
     {"name": "favorite_color", "type": ["string", "null"]}

Example JSON doc

{"name": "Ben",
 "favorite_number": 7,
 "favorite_color": "red"}

But when I try to do it with:

cat user.json | java -jar avro-tools.jar jsontofrag user.avsc - | java -jar avro-tools.jar fragtojson user.avsc -

It get this error (stack trace elided):

Exception in thread "main" org.apache.avro.SchemaParseException: org.codehaus.jackson.JsonParseException: 
Unexpected character ('u' (code 117)): 
expected a valid value (number, String, array, object, 'true', 'false' or 'null') 
at [Source:; line: 1, column: 2]

Any ideas on how to make this work? Or another way to use an Avro schema to validate JSON?


The usage (and backtrace) for the jsontofrag tool leaves much to be desired; what it means by "schema" is a literal schema string, not a filename containing a schema. (Surprise!) The following tweak to your command worked for me:

cat user.json | java -jar avro-tools.jar jsontofrag "`cat user.avsc`" - | java -jar avro-tools.jar fragtojson "`cat user.avsc`" -

Here I've used old-style backtics for command-substitution; the newer "$(cat user.avsc)" syntax also works in bash and probably in other modern(ish) shells.

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