Episode 202

Ben Hutton on JSON Schema


October 6th, 2023

37 mins 59 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Ben Hutton


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. In this episode, Richard introduces us to Ben Hutton, a Specification Lead for JSON Schema at Postman. They discuss the evolution and diverse applications of JSON Schema, its funding, and the importance of open standards for interoperability and innovation. The episode delves into real-world use cases, community feedback, and the 10-year vision for JSON Schema. Join Richard and Ben as they explore how JSON Schema is shaping the development stack and its potential impact on various industries. Hit download now to hear more!

[00:01:00] Ben describes his work on JSON Schema at Postman. His work entails leading the project, finding ways to move forward, creating visions and roadmaps.

[00:01:50] Richard brings up the question of understanding the market value for a Schema like JSON and asks Ben to elaborate on the improvements and ways they are moving forward. Ben explains how JSON Schema has evolved over time to cater to more use cases.

[00:03:22] Ben explains that Postman funds his work because JSON Schema is used by The OpenAPI Specification, a standard for defining the interface and data structure of APIs, which is a part of Postman products.

[00:04:20] Richard asks about the number of maintainers and community members for JSON Schema, and Ben tells us there are about five or six core maintainers and a community size around 15,000.

[00:05:16] What’s the importance of open standards and why do they need continuous improvements? Ben explains that the team helps developers understand and use JSON Schemas and supports the implementers of the Schema across different programming languages.

[00:07:24] Ben discusses a use case with Six River Systems, illustrating how JSON Schema helped different teams within a company to define their data structures and communicate more effectively, preventing bugs and misunderstandings.

[00:09:29] We hear why open standards are important, as Ben states that standards are vital for creating value that people can use and ensure interoperability and they can also spur innovation.

[00:11:51] Ben explains that JSON Schema was initially a personal draft within the IETF, but due to lack of alignment and communication issues, they’ve decided to publish their own standards while still maintaining some principles from the IETF.

[00:14:51] What’s the difference between JSON Schema and JSON? Ben explains JSON is used for API calls, and JSON Schema defines the stricture of expected JSON data. He also speaks about managing radical change requests, maintaining standards, and the value of community feedback, and he reveals an official JSON Schema test suite and a new tool called Bowtie.

[00:18:23] Richard asks about the funding and progression of JSON Schema, given its foundational role and slower pace of development. Ben describes Postman’s evolution from a basic API client to a comprehensive API platform.

[00:20:01] Ben mentions other companies, such as Retool and Airbnb, that support JSON Schema due to its utility in their own offerings, and he talks about Microsoft’s usage and a pending case study on how GitHub uses JSON Schema internally.

[00:24:09] Richard asks Ben about his 10-year vision for JSON Schema. Ben envisions JSON Schema being used throughout the entire development stack, from inception to defining data structures and models. He tells us about a case study they used from Open Metadata.

[00:27:18] The topic of financial needs for JSON Schema is brought up and Ben is content with current funding but admits they need to assess financial stability. He also tells us about future plans improving compliance and supporting the ecosystem to ensure interoperability across different languages and backgrounds.

[00:31:12] Richard asks about potential threats to JSON Schema, and Ben mentions that biggest threat would be if something were to replace JSON, and simplicity and ease of learning are key strengths of JSON and JSON Schema.

[00:33:47] Find out where you can learn more about Ben and JSON Schema online.


  • [00:35:31] Richard’s spotlight is the book, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Green Knight (film).
  • [00:36:08] Ben’s spotlight is MeetingBar for Meet, Zoom & Co.



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