JsonMergePatch library provides an implementation for json merge patch operations, detailed in RFC7396. The library uses C# source generators to generate the types required for serialization. The Http package provides extension methods for HTTP requests and responses, while the AspNetCore package provides an InputReader implementation.

Resources in REST are typically updated according to the CRUD operations: Create/Update, Read, Delete. JsonMergePatch library enables to use http PATCH method to create and update a resource. Using PATCH operation has several benefits over PUT and POST requests:

  • Patch can be used for both create and update operations.

  • Patch payloads for updates can be significantly smaller if majority of the members remain unchanged

  • Patch solves versioning issues: a new version (V2) of the resource may contain new members. With patch operation V1 clients remain compatible: if a new property is unknown for the client, it will not be sent; on the server side the operation still succeeds, while the new V2 properties are retained. Using PUT operation, the V2 property values would become discarded by a V1 client request.

Getting Started

JsonMergePatch library helps to deserialize http requests' and responses' json body content for merge patch operation. Merge patch operation is detailed by RFC7396. If the merge patch request contains members that appear as null on the target object, those members are added. If the target object contains the member, the value is replaced. Members with null values in the merge patch requests, are removed from the target object (set to null or default).

JsonMergePatch library is based on C# source generators. For http body content to be deserialized into a type, the SourceGenerator library generates a helper class. Helper classes are called Wrappers, capturing all the features of the type intended to be used for the deserialization. Once the request is deserialized into a Wrapper object, it can be used to apply the patch on an object typed as the source class. The JsonMergePatch library is designed to be used with POCO classes and record types.

Source Generations requires Visual Studio 16.9 or later.

Based on the given application type different packages may be installed from NuGet by running one or more of the following commands:

dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Http
dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.SourceGenerator
dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.AspNetCore
dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.SourceGenerator.AspNetCore

JsonMergePatch with AspNetCore

  1. Install AspNetCore packages via NuGet

  2. Add the required usings

  3. Add a new controller with a parameter types Patch<T> where T is a custom type chosen by the user

  4. Extend application startup with AddJsonMergePatch() extension method

Install AspNetCore packages via NuGet

To use the JsonMergePatch library with AspNetCore install the following packages:

dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.AspNetCore
dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.SourceGenerator.AspNetCore

Add the required usings

Add the following using to controller class:

using LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Abstractions;

Add a new controller action

In the controller action implementation, load the target object. Call the ApplyPatch() method on the input (patch) object, passing the target object as a parameter.

public WeatherForecast PatchForecast(Patch<WeatherForecast> input)
    var target = new WeatherForecast() { Date = DateTime.UtcNow, Summary = "Sample weather forecast", TemperatureC = 24 };
    var result = input.ApplyPatch(target);
    return result;

During build, the source generator scans for methods with type parameters of Patch<T>. When such a parameter is found a Wrapper type is generated for T. The base class of the generated type provides the necessary operations to work with the type.

Extend application startup

In Startup.cs file add the following using:

using LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Generated;

Extend ConfigureServices method:

 public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    // ...
    // ...

Note, that AddJsonMergePatch() is a generated method. The current Visual Studio's intellisense and editor will not recognize it, and shows as an error. At the same time builds operation shall succeed, which will be indicated on the status bar and the output window. The current suggestion with source generators is to restart Visual Studio after build so intellisense and editor window swallow the errors.

AddJsonMergePatch() has two optional parameters to set a Microsoft.AspNetCore.Http.Json.JsonOptions and an ITypeRepository parameter. The method returns IMvcBuilder.

The AspNetCore input reader supports requests with application/merge-patch+json media type and UTF8 and Unicode encodings.


Sample web application can be found in the sample folder

Using with Http Content

Another approach to leverage Json Marge Patch is through the HttpContent extension method, ReadJsonPatchAsync<T>(). This way a content of an Http request or response can be deserialized into a Wrapper object representing the json merge patch operation.

Install Http packages via NuGet

To use the JsonMergePatch library with Http Content install the following packages:

dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Http
dotnet add package LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.SourceGenerator

Add the required usings

Add the following usings to the class using json merge patch with http content:

using LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Abstractions;
using LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Http;

Deserialize the Http Content

var data = await response.Content.ReadJsonPatchAsync<WeatherForecast>().ConfigureAwait(false);
var target = new WeatherForecast() { Date = DateTime.UtcNow, Summary = "Sample weather forecast", Temp = 24 };
var result = responseData.ApplyPatch(original);

To enable using the default ITypeRespository implementation, configure JsonMergePatchOptions during application startup:

LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Abstractions.JsonMergePatchOptions.Repository = LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Generated.SafeConsoleApp.TypeRepository.Instance;

During build, the source generator scans for method invocations of ReadJsonPatchAsync<T> extension method. When such an invocation is found, a Wrapper type is generated for the generic type parameter T. The base class of the generated type provides the necessary operations to work with the Wrapper type.

The ReadJsonPatchAsync<T> extension method has 3 optional parameters:

  • ITypeRepository to pass in a customized list of Wrapper types

  • JsonSerializerOptions to override the default options used by System.Text.Json.JsonSerializer

  • CancellationToken to cancel the current operation

The extension method requires a content type header value of application/merge-patch+json, application/json or empty content type.


Sample console application and app library can be found in the sample folder

Example Requests

This sample request shows how to invoke a JsonMergePatch endpoint with curl. The sample invokes the /Sample/PatchWeather endpoint defined by the AspNetCore sample application. The sample updates the Temperature to 23 C degrees and deletes the summary.

curl -X PATCH "https://localhost:5001/Sample/PatchWeather" -H  "accept: text/plain" -H  "Content-Type: application/merge-patch+json" -d "{\"temp\":23,\"summary\":null}"

The following example shows how arrays are best to handle with json merge patch operations. Instead of having an array, it is recommended to use a map using a Dictionary<string,string> property.

Note, when using maps always use concrete property types on the C# class. The interface of IDictionary<K,V> is not supported.

curl -X PATCH "https://localhost:5001/Sample/PatchCities" -H  "accept: text/plain" -H  "Content-Type: application/merge-patch+json" -d "{\"cities\":{\"Dublin\":\"Ireland\",\"London\":\"GB\",\"New York\":null}}"

When the resource below is patched with the above command, 3 things happens: Dublin is added with the value of Ireland; London is updated with the value of GB; and New York is removed from the map.

  "cities": {
    "Frankfurt": "Germany",
    "New York": "US",
    "London": "UK"

Resulting the following output of the patched resource:

  "cities": {
    "Frankfurt": "Germany",
    "London": "GB",
    "Dublin": "Ireland"

Supported Types and Use-Cases

  • C# POCO classes

  • Record types

  • Properties with Get and Set methods

  • Init only properties

  • Classes or Records with non-default constructors

  • Built-in and custom types for properties

  • Property and Class attributes (JsonSerializer attributes are preserved and migrated to the Wrapper type and properties)

Advanced Scenarios

Use Maps

It is suggested to use maps with the json merge patch operation instead of arrays. A map has several advantages compared to an array. To update an array, a client needs to download the whole array, amend it, sort it if required then send the whole array back to the server. As an array can be large, this might require large volumes of data to be transferred over the wire. A better approach is to use a map instead. A map may contain only the updated/deleted and newly added items. To use a map add a Dictionary<string, string> typed property to the POCO type declaration, which is used as the source of the generated Wrapper type.

Merge ITypeRepositories

In larger solutions the source generator packages might be required to be added to multiple projects. Each source generator package operates on top of the project where it is installed, generating types for the POCO classes used for json merge patch operation in the given project. Each generated type is distinguished using a base namespace and the namespace of the POCO type. At runtime the each generated type must be aggregated into a single type repository used across the application.

During application startup use the Extend extension method to create a union of types in a single type repository. Set the JsonMergePatchOptions.Repository property (or for AspNetCore pass the type repository to the AddJsonMergePatch() method) with the return value of the Extend() method call. In each project a type repository is generated under the following full name schema: LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Generated.Safe{root-namespace-of-the-project}.TypeRepository.Instance

Use Extend extension method to merge multiple type repositories:

LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Abstractions.JsonMergePatchOptions.Repository = LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Generated.SafeConsoleApp.TypeRepository.Instance.Extend(LaDeak.JsonMergePatch.Generated.SafeConsoleAppLibrary.TypeRepository.Instance);

The default type repository implementation is not thread-safe, do not modify it during runtime, it is suggested to do the extension at application startup.