2019-01-26 13:19
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I'm trying to interpret JSONs in Golang. I'm searching for a specific attribute in an unknown JSON which I know the keys for but my JSON might be really nested. I do know how many 'layers' there are in my JSON.

For example, if my JSON is:

nestedJson = { key1: { key2: { key3: "Found data" } } } 

my keys are ["key1", "key2", "key3"] and there are 3 layers in this JSON so I can get the data back out by doing

var nestedJson = []map[string]map[string]map[string]interface{}
json.Unmarshal([]byte(nestedJon), &nestedJson)
data := nestedJson["key1]["key2"]["key3"]

What I want to be able to do is dynamically create that nestedJson object by specifying an integer value for the number of layers is should search through.

Can anyone help with this? Please let me know if I haven't been clear enough!

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  • douqi4673 2019-01-26 13:52

    In general, for cases like this you'll have to use the generic unmarshaling capability of json.Unmarshal into an interface{}.

    b := []byte(`{ "key1": { "key2": { "key3": "Found data" } } } `)
    var f interface{}
    if err := json.Unmarshal(b, &f); err != nil {

    And now you can use a bunch of type assertions to explore f, for example to find which keys it contains:

    m := f.(map[string]interface{})
    for k, v := range m {
        if k == "key3" {
            fmt.Println("found key3. maps to", v)

    If you don't find key3 at this level, use recursion to check all the values - are they maps with key3 keys, and so on... Something like

    func findNested(m map[string]interface{}, s string) (bool, interface{}) {
        // Try to find key s at this level
        for k, v := range m {
            if k == s {
                return true, v
        // Not found on this level, so try to find it nested
        for _, v := range m {
            nm := v.(map[string]interface{})
            found, val := findNested(nm, s)
            if found {
                return found, val
        // Not found recursively
        return false, nil

    Note: this function was quickly hacked together and probably mishandles a bunch of corner cases. It's here to demonstrate the key idea - use it as a basis for your specific needs

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