Gabbi supports JSONPath both for validating JSON response bodies and within substitutions.

JSONPath expressions are provided by jsonpath_rw, with jsonpath_rw_ext custom extensions to address common requirements:

  1. Sorting via sorted and [/property].
  2. Filtering via [?property = value].
  3. Returning the respective length via len.

(These apply both to arrays and key-value pairs.)

Here is a JSONPath example demonstrating some of these features. Given JSON data as follows:

    "pets": [
        {"type": "cat", "sound": "meow"},
        {"type": "dog", "sound": "woof"}

If the ordering of the list in pets is predictable and reliable it is relatively straightforward to test values:

    # length of list is two
    $.pets.`len`: 2
    # sound of second item in list is woof
    $.pets[1].sound: woof

If the ordering is not predictable additional effort is required:

    # sort by type
    $.pets[/type][0].sound: meow
    # sort by type, reversed
    $.pets[\type][0].sound: woof
    # all the sounds
    $.pets[/type]..sound: ['meow', 'woof']
    # filter by type = dog
    $.pets[?type = "dog"].sound: woof

If it is necessary to validate the entire JSON response use a JSONPath of $:

            - type: cat
              sound: meow
            - type: dog
              sound: woof

This is not a technique that should be used frequently as it can lead to difficult to read tests and it also indicates that your gabbi tests are being used to test your serializers and data models, not just your API interactions.

It is also possible to read raw JSON from disk for either all or some of a JSON response:

    $: @<data.json


    $.pets: <@pets.json
    $.pets[0]: <@cat.json

Examples like this can be found in one of gabbi’s own tests.

If it is desired to load YAML files like the JSON ones above, two things must be done:

  1. The YAMLDiskLoadingJSONHandler custom content handler must be passed to the driver through the content_handlers argument. See Extensions on how to do this.

  2. The YAML files to load must be placed in a subdirectory to prevent the test runner from consuming them as test files to run:

        $: @<subdir/values.yaml

When reading from disk you can apply the same JSONPath by adding a ‘:’ to the end of your file name. This allows you to store multiple API responses into a single file to reduce file management when constructing your tests.

Given JSON data as follows:

    "values": [{
        "pets": [{
            "type": "cat",
            "sound": "meow"
        }, {
            "type": "dog",
            "sound": "woof"
    }, {
        "people": [{
            "name": "chris",
            "id": 1
        }, {
            "name": "justin",
            "id": 2

You can write your tests like the following:

    $.pets: <@pets.json
    $.pets[?type = "cat"].sound: <@values.json:$.values[0].pets[?type = "cat"].sound

Although placing more than one API response into a single JSON file may seem convenient, keep in mind there is a tradeoff in readability that should not be overlooked before implementing this technique.

Examples like this can be found in one of gabbi’s yaml-from-disk tests.

There are more JSONPath examples in Example Tests and in the jsonpath_rw and jsonpath_rw_ext documentation.


Substitutions can be made in both the left (query) and right (expected) hand sides of the json path expression. When subtitutions are used in the query, care must be taken to ensure proper quoting of the resulting value. For example if there is a uuid (with hyphens) at $RESPONSE['$.id'] then this expression may fail:

$.nested.structure.$RESPONSE['$.id'].name: foobar

as it will evaluate to something like:

$.nested.structure.ADC8AAFC-D564-40D1-9724-7680D3C010C2.name: foobar

which may be treated as an arithemtic expression by the json path parser. The test author should write:

$.nested.structure["$RESPONSE['$.id']"].name: foobar

to quote the result of the substitution.