Atomic Operations

This extension provides a means to perform multiple “operations” in a linear and atomic manner. Operations are a serialized form of the mutations allowed in the base JSON:API specification.

Clients can send an array of operations in a single request. This extension guarantees that those operations will be processed in order and will either completely succeed or fail together.

URI

This extension has the URI https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic.

Namespace

This extension uses the namespace atomic.

Note: JSON:API extensions can only introduce new document members using a reserved namespace as a prefix.

Document Structure

A document that supports this extension MAY include any of the top-level members allowed by the base specification with the exception of data and included, which MUST NOT be included.

In addition, such a document MAY include either of the following members, but not both:

If either atomic:operations or atomic:results is present, the errors member MUST NOT be included in the same document.

Operation Objects

An operation object MUST contain the following member:

  • op: an operation code, expressed as a string, that indicates the type of operation to perform. The value MUST be one of the following:

    • "add": creates a new resource or relationship
    • "update": updates a resource or relationship
    • "remove": removes a resource or relationship

An operation object MAY contain either of the following members, but not both, to specify the target of the operation:

  • ref: an object that MUST contain one of the following combinations of members:

    • type and id: to target an individual resource.
    • type and lid: to target an individual resource that has been assigned a local identity (lid) in a prior operation object.
    • type, id, and relationship: to target the relationship of an individual resource.
    • type, lid, and relationship: to target the relationship of an individual resource that has been assigned a local identity (lid) in a prior operation object.
  • href: a string that contains a URI-reference [RFC3986 Section 4.1] that identifies the target of the operation.

Some specific types of operations require inclusion of ref or href, as described below.

An operation object MAY also contain any of the following members:

  • data: the operation’s “primary data”.

  • meta: a meta object that contains non-standard meta-information about the operation.

Different members are required for processing different types of operations, as described below.

Result Objects

An operation result object MAY contain any of the following members:

  • data: the “primary data” resulting from the operation.

  • meta: a meta object that contains non-standard meta-information about the result.

An empty result object ({}) is acceptable for operations that are not required to return data.

Processing

All HTTP requests sent with this extension MUST be issued with POST.

A server MUST perform operations in the order they appear in the atomic:operations array.

A server MUST perform all operations atomically, so that a failure to perform any operation MUST invalidate any effects of preceding operations.

A server MUST respond to a successful operations request with 200 OK if a response document is returned. An array of result objects MUST be returned in a top-level atomic:results member. The results array MUST be the same length as the requested operations array and each result MUST correspond positionally to its associated operation.

A server MAY respond to successful requests that include operations with 204 No Content and no response document if no operations are required to return data.

Processing Errors

If any operation in a request fails, the server MUST respond as described in the base specification. An array of one or more error objects SHOULD be returned, each with a source member that contains a pointer to the source of the problem in the request document.

If a requested operation is malformed or incomplete, then a server MUST respond with a 400 Bad Request and SHOULD include a document with a top-level errors member that contains an error object. The error object SHOULD include a source member with a pointer to the invalid operation.

If an operation is properly formed, but cannot be processed by a server, the server MUST respond with a 400 Bad Request or a more appropriate error response (e.g. 409 Conflict or 422 Unprocessable Entity) and SHOULD include a document with a top-level errors member that contains one or more error objects that provide further details.

Processing Specific Operations

The following sections describe how to process specific operations.

Creating Resources

An operation that creates a resource MAY target a resource collection through the operation’s href member.

The operation MUST include an op code of "add" as well as a resource object as data. The resource object MUST contain at least a type member.

For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "add",
    "href": "/blogPosts",
    "data": {
      "type": "articles",
      "attributes": {
        "title": "JSON API paints my bikeshed!"
      }
    }
  }]
}

Note that href is used in this example to target a resource collection, blogPosts in this case, that is distinct from the type of the resource. The usage of href is entirely optional for this extension, but could be required by an individual implementation.

Responses

If the server is able to create a resource with a client-generated ID and its representation would be identical to the resource in the operation, then the server MAY return a result with no data member or it MAY return a result that contains the created resource as data.

In all other cases in which the server is able to successfully create the resource, the server MUST return a result that contains the created resource as data.

For example:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:results": [{
    "data": {
      "links": {
        "self": "http://example.com/blogPosts/13"
      },
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "13",
      "attributes": {
        "title": "JSON API paints my bikeshed!"
      }
    }
  }]
}

If the server is unable to create the resource, an appropriate error response MUST be returned and a response document SHOULD be returned that contains a top-level errors as described above.

Updating Resources

An operation that updates a resource MAY target that resource through the operation’s ref or href members, but not both.

The operation MUST include an op code of "update".

For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "update",
    "data": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "13",
      "attributes": {
        "title": "To TDD or Not"
      }
    }
  }]
}
Responses

If a server accepts an update but also changes the resource in ways other than those specified by the request (for example, updating the updatedAt attribute or a computed sha), then the server MUST return a result that includes a representation of the updated resource as data.

If a server accepts an update and doesn’t update any fields besides those provided, the server MUST return a result that includes either no data or a representation of the resource as data or, if all results are empty, the server MAY respond with 204 No Content and no document.

If a server is unable to update the resource, an appropriate error response MUST be returned and a response document SHOULD be returned that contains a top-level errors as described above.

Deleting Resources

An operation that deletes a resource MUST target that resource through the operation’s ref or href members, but not both.

The operation MUST include an op code of "remove".

For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "remove",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "13"
    }
  }]
}
Responses

If a server is able to delete the resource, the server MUST return a result with no data or, if all results are empty, the server MAY respond with 204 No Content and no document.

If a server is unable to delete the resource, an appropriate error response MUST be returned and a response document SHOULD be returned that contains a top-level errors as described above.

Updating To-One Relationships

An operation that updates a resource’s to-one relationship MUST target that relationship through the operation’s ref or href members, but not both.

The operation MUST include an op code of "update".

For example, the following request assigns a to-one relationship:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "update",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "13",
      "relationship": "author"
    },
    "data": {
      "type": "people",
      "id": "9"
    }
  }]
}

And the following request clears a to-one relationship:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "update",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "13",
      "relationship": "author"
    },
    "data": null
  }]
}
Responses

If a server is able to update the relationship, the server MUST return a result with no data or, if all results are empty, the server MAY respond with 204 No Content and no document.

If a server is unable to update the relationship, an appropriate error response MUST be returned and a response document SHOULD be returned that contains a top-level errors as described above.

Updating To-Many Relationships

An operation that updates a resource’s to-many relationship MUST target that relationship through the operation’s ref or href members, but not both.

To add members to a to-many relationship, the operation MUST include an op code of "add". For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "add",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "1",
      "relationship": "comments"
    },
    "data": [
      { "type": "comments", "id": "123" }
    ]
  }]
}

To replace all the members of a to-many relationship, the operation MUST include an op code of "update". For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "update",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "1",
      "relationship": "tags"
    },
    "data": [
      { "type": "tags", "id": "2" },
      { "type": "tags", "id": "3" }
    ]
  }]
}

To remove members from a to-many relationship, the operation MUST include an op code of "remove". For example:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "remove",
    "ref": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "1",
      "relationship": "comments"
    },
    "data": [
      { "type": "comments", "id": "12" },
      { "type": "comments", "id": "13" }
    ]
  }]
}
Responses

If a server is able to update the relationship, the server MUST return a result with no data or, if all results are empty, the server MAY respond with 204 No Content and no document.

If a server is unable to update the relationship, an appropriate error response MUST be returned and a response document SHOULD be returned that contains a top-level errors as described above.

Processing Multiple Operations

The above examples all perform a single operation that aligns with an equivalent singular request from the base spec. Yet, the primary value of this extension is that unlocks the ability to perform more than one action linearally and atomically.

The following example adds two resources and creates a relationship between them in a single request:

POST /operations HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"
Accept: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:operations": [{
    "op": "add",
    "data": {
      "type": "authors",
      "id": "acb2ebd6-ed30-4877-80ce-52a14d77d470",
      "attributes": {
        "name": "dgeb"
      }
    }
  }, {
    "op": "add",
    "data": {
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "bb3ad581-806f-4237-b748-f2ea0261845c",
      "attributes": {
        "title": "JSON API paints my bikeshed!"
      },
      "relationships": {
        "author": {
          "data": {
            "type": "authors",
            "id": "acb2ebd6-ed30-4877-80ce-52a14d77d470"
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }]
}

A server might respond to this request as follows:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/vnd.api+json;ext="https://jsonapi.org/ext/atomic"

{
  "atomic:results": [{
    "data": {
      "links": {
        "self": "http://example.com/authors/acb2ebd6-ed30-4877-80ce-52a14d77d470"
      },
      "type": "authors",
      "id": "acb2ebd6-ed30-4877-80ce-52a14d77d470",
      "attributes": {
        "name": "dgeb"
      }
    }
  }, {
    "data": {
      "links": {
        "self": "http://example.com/articles/bb3ad581-806f-4237-b748-f2ea0261845c"
      },
      "type": "articles",
      "id": "bb3ad581-806f-4237-b748-f2ea0261845c",
      "attributes": {
        "title": "JSON API paints my bikeshed!"
      },
      "relationships": {
        "author": {
          "links": {
            "self": "http://example.com/articles/bb3ad581-806f-4237-b748-f2ea0261845c/relationships/author",
            "related": "http://example.com/articles/bb3ad581-806f-4237-b748-f2ea0261845c/author"
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }]
}

Note that this operations request could also have been structured to add the author, then add the article, then add the relationship between them.

Also note that local identities, i.e. lid members, are particularly useful for requests that involve multiple operations. Local identities can be used to associate resources that have not yet been assigned an id.