How to JSON schema validate 10x (or 100x) faster in Python

04 November 2018   2 comments   Python

This is perhaps insanely obvious but it was a measurement I had to do and it might help you too if you use python-jsonschema a lot too.

I have this project which has a migration script that needs to transfer about 1M records from one PostgreSQL database, transform it a bit, validate it, and store it in another PostgreSQL database. The validation step was done like this:

from jsonschema import validate


with open(os.path.join(settings.BASE_DIR, "schema.yaml")) as f:
    SCHEMA = yaml.load(f)["schema"]


class Build(models.Model):


    def validate_build(cls, build):
        validate(build, SCHEMA)

That works fine when you have a slow trickle of these coming in with many seconds or minutes apart. But when you have to do about 1M of them, the speed overhead starts to really matter. Granted, in this context, it's just a migration which is hopefully only done once but it helps that it doesn't take too long since it makes it easier to not have any downtime.

What about python-fastjsonschema?

The name python-fastjsonschema just sounds very appealing but I'm just not sure how mature it is or what the subtle differences are between that and the more established python-jsonschema which I was already using.

It has two ways of using it either...

fastjsonschema.validate(schema, data


validator = fastjsonschema.compile(schema)

That got me thinking, why don't I just do that with regular python-jsonschema!
All you need to do is crack open the validate function and you can now re-used one instance for multiple pieces of data:

from jsonschema.validators import validator_for

klass = validator_for(schema)
klass.check_schema(schema)  # optional
instance = klass(SCHEMA)

I rewrote my projects code to this:

from jsonschema import validate


with open(os.path.join(settings.BASE_DIR, "schema.yaml")) as f:
    SCHEMA = yaml.load(f)["schema"]
_validator_class = validator_for(SCHEMA)
validator = _validator_class(SCHEMA)


class Build(models.Model):


    def validate_build(cls, build):

How do they compare, performance-wise?

Let this simple benchmark code speak for itself:

from buildhub.main.models import Build, SCHEMA

import fastjsonschema
from jsonschema import validate, ValidationError
from jsonschema.validators import validator_for

def f1(qs):
    for build in qs:
        validate(, SCHEMA)

def f2(qs):
    validator = validator_for(SCHEMA)
    for build in qs:
        validate(, SCHEMA, cls=validator)

def f3(qs):
    cls = validator_for(SCHEMA)
    instance = cls(SCHEMA)
    for build in qs:

def f4(qs):
    for build in qs:

def f5(qs):
    validator = fastjsonschema.compile(SCHEMA)
    for build in qs:

# Reporting
import time
import statistics
import random

functions = f1, f2, f3, f4, f5
times = {f.__name__: [] for f in functions}

for _ in range(3):
    qs = list(Build.objects.all().order_by("?")[:1000])
    for func in functions:
        t0 = time.time()
        t1 = time.time()
        times[func.__name__].append((t1 - t0) * 1000)

def f(ms):
    return f"{ms:.1f}ms"

for name, numbers in times.items():
    print("FUNCTION:", name, "Used", len(numbers), "times")
    print("\tBEST  ", f(min(numbers)))
    print("\tMEDIAN", f(statistics.median(numbers)))
    print("\tMEAN  ", f(statistics.mean(numbers)))
    print("\tSTDEV ", f(statistics.stdev(numbers)))

Basically, 3 times for each of the alternative implementations, do a validation on a 1,000 JSON blobs (technically Python dicts) that is around 1KB, each, in size.

The results:

FUNCTION: f1 Used 3 times
    BEST   1247.9ms
    MEDIAN 1309.0ms
    MEAN   1330.0ms
    STDEV  94.5ms
FUNCTION: f2 Used 3 times
    BEST   1266.3ms
    MEDIAN 1267.5ms
    MEAN   1301.1ms
    STDEV  59.2ms
FUNCTION: f3 Used 3 times
    BEST   125.5ms
    MEDIAN 131.1ms
    MEAN   133.9ms
    STDEV  10.1ms
FUNCTION: f4 Used 3 times
    BEST   2032.3ms
    MEDIAN 2033.4ms
    MEAN   2143.9ms
    STDEV  192.3ms
FUNCTION: f5 Used 3 times
    BEST   16.7ms
    MEDIAN 17.1ms
    MEAN   21.0ms
    STDEV  7.1ms

Basically, if you use python-jsonschema and create a reusable instance it's 10 times faster than the "default way". And if you do the same but with python-fastjsonscham it's 100 times faster.

By the way, in version f5 it validated 1,000 1KB records in 16.7ms. That's insanely fast!


Michal Hořejšek

Hi. Author of the Fast JSON Schema here. :-)

I wrote about details of the project here: It's ready for production code and offers full support of JSON Schema Draft 04, 06 and 07.

The reason why f4 is slow is that it creates Python code on the fly in every cycle. Using validate directly is really only when you are lazy and it's one time usage. To have high performance you should always use compile.

BTW you can gain little bit also by generating Python code to the file and import that instead. Maybe you could try to do f6. It should be even slightly better. :-) You can generate validation module for your schema with following command: echo "{'type': 'string'}" | python3 -m fastjsonschema > (or use fastjsonschema.compile_to_code on your own:

Peter Bengtsson

Thanks for sharing!

What happened in my case was that...
1) I need faster JSON schema validation
2) Let's check out Fast JSON Schema
3) Huh! How about that! You create the instance once and reuse it. Why don't I just do that with the existing stack?
4) Reusing existing stack but doing the create-instance-once pattern.
5) Totally good enough for now.

I hope my blog post shines some light - plus your comment here - about the fact that there is an alternative to regular python-jsonschema that is production grade and distinctly faster.

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