JSON Schema $Ref Parser

Parse, Resolve, and Dereference JSON Schema $ref pointers in Node and browsers

JSON Schema $Ref Parser

This package needs a new maintainer or at least some contributors. For more information please read this article. As of v10.0.0 I am no longer spending any time working on this tool, so I can focus on scaling up my reforestation charity instead of burning myself out trying to maintain a whole load of OSS projects I don’t use in my vanishingly small spare time. Get in touch if you’d like to take over. - Phil Sturgeon

Parse, Resolve, and Dereference JSON Schema $ref pointers

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The Problem:

You’ve got a JSON Schema with $ref pointers to other files and/or URLs. Maybe you know all the referenced files ahead of time. Maybe you don’t. Maybe some are local files, and others are remote URLs. Maybe they are a mix of JSON and YAML format. Maybe some of the files contain cross-references to each other.

  "definitions": {
    "person": {
      // references an external file
      "$ref": "schemas/people/Bruce-Wayne.json"
    "place": {
      // references a sub-schema in an external file
      "$ref": "schemas/places.yaml#/definitions/Gotham-City"
    "thing": {
      // references a URL
      "$ref": "http://wayne-enterprises.com/things/batmobile"
    "color": {
      // references a value in an external file via an internal reference
      "$ref": "#/definitions/thing/properties/colors/black-as-the-night"

The Solution:

JSON Schema $Ref Parser is a full JSON Reference and JSON Pointer implementation that crawls even the most complex JSON Schemas and gives you simple, straightforward JavaScript objects.


$RefParser.dereference(mySchema, (err, schema) => {
  if (err) {
  else {
    // `schema` is just a normal JavaScript object that contains your entire JSON Schema,
    // including referenced files, combined into a single object

Or use async/await syntax instead. The following example is the same as above:

try {
  let schema = await $RefParser.dereference(mySchema);
catch(err) {

For more detailed examples, please see the API Documentation


Install using npm:

npm install @apidevtools/json-schema-ref-parser


When using JSON Schema $Ref Parser in Node.js apps, you’ll probably want to use CommonJS syntax:

const $RefParser = require("@apidevtools/json-schema-ref-parser");

When using a transpiler such as Babel or TypeScript, or a bundler such as Webpack or Rollup, you can use ECMAScript modules syntax instead:

import $RefParser from "@apidevtools/json-schema-ref-parser";

If you are using Node.js < 18, you’ll need a polyfill for fetch, like node-fetch:

import fetch from "node-fetch";

globalThis.fetch = fetch;

Browser support

JSON Schema $Ref Parser supports recent versions of every major web browser. Older browsers may require Babel and/or polyfills.

To use JSON Schema $Ref Parser in a browser, you’ll need to use a bundling tool such as Webpack, Rollup, Parcel, or Browserify. Some bundlers may require a bit of configuration, such as setting browser: true in rollup-plugin-resolve.

API Documentation

Full API documentation is available right here


I welcome any contributions, enhancements, and bug-fixes. Open an issue on GitHub and submit a pull request.


To build/test the project locally on your computer:

  1. Clone this repo
    git clone https://github.com/APIDevTools/json-schema-ref-parser.git

  2. Install dependencies
    npm install

  3. Run the tests
    npm test


JSON Schema $Ref Parser is 100% free and open-source, under the MIT license. Use it however you want.

This package is Treeware. If you use it in production, then we ask that you buy the world a tree to thank us for our work. By contributing to the Treeware forest you’ll be creating employment for local families and restoring wildlife habitats.

Big Thanks To

Thanks to these awesome companies for their support of Open Source developers ❤

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