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basic_json patch(const basic_json& json_patch) const;

JSON Patch defines a JSON document structure for expressing a sequence of operations to apply to a JSON document. With this function, a JSON Patch is applied to the current JSON value by executing all operations from the patch.


json_patch (in)
JSON patch document

Return value

patched document

Exception safety

Strong guarantee: if an exception is thrown, there are no changes in the JSON value.


  • Throws parse_error.104 if the JSON patch does not consist of an array of objects.
  • Throws parse_error.105 if the JSON patch is malformed (e.g., mandatory attributes are missing); example: "operation add must have member path".
  • Throws out_of_range.401 if an array index is out of range.
  • Throws out_of_range.403 if a JSON pointer inside the patch could not be resolved successfully in the current JSON value; example: "key baz not found".
  • Throws out_of_range.405 if JSON pointer has no parent ("add", "remove", "move")
  • Throws out_of_range.501 if "test" operation was unsuccessful.


Linear in the size of the JSON value and the length of the JSON patch. As usually only a fraction of the JSON value is affected by the patch, the complexity can usually be neglected.


The application of a patch is atomic: Either all operations succeed and the patched document is returned or an exception is thrown. In any case, the original value is not changed: the patch is applied to a copy of the value.



The following code shows how a JSON patch is applied to a value.

#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <nlohmann/json.hpp>

using json = nlohmann::json;
using namespace nlohmann::literals;

int main()
    // the original document
    json doc = R"(
          "baz": "qux",
          "foo": "bar"

    // the patch
    json patch = R"(
          { "op": "replace", "path": "/baz", "value": "boo" },
          { "op": "add", "path": "/hello", "value": ["world"] },
          { "op": "remove", "path": "/foo"}

    // apply the patch
    json patched_doc = doc.patch(patch);

    // output original and patched document
    std::cout << std::setw(4) << doc << "\n\n"
              << std::setw(4) << patched_doc << std::endl;


    "baz": "qux",
    "foo": "bar"

    "baz": "boo",
    "hello": [

See also

Version history

  • Added in version 2.0.0.

Last update: July 21, 2022