Developer's Guide: JSON / JavaScript

Note: The YouTube Data API (v2) has been officially deprecated as of March 4, 2014. Please refer to our deprecation policy for more information. Please use the YouTube Data API (v3) for new integrations and migrate applications still using the v2 API to the v3 API as well.


An increasingly popular alternative to XML is JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). It is a simplistic text-based format that is designed to be human readable. Unlike XML, it has no notion of namespaces and can only represent data in the format of associative arrays.

Retrieving JSON

All Data APIs support JSON output through the use of the alt parameter. For example, you can retrieve the current most popular videos from YouTube in JSON format as follows:

Using the Data API with JavaScript

When you are working with JavaScript, you can avoid crossdomain restrictions by loading results from the Data API through a <script> tag with a custom callback. To do this you set the alt parameter to have the value json-in-script and also use the callback parameter to identify what JavaScript function should be called once the results have been loaded.

A simple example is retrieving all of the uploads for a particular user, in this case 'GoogleDevelopers':


The v parameter ensures we are using Version 2 of the API. The format parameter ensures we are only retrieving videos that can be embedded in an external webpage. The callback parameter is specifying showMyVideos as the function to execute once the results are returned. This function could look something like:

function showMyVideos(data) {
  var feed = data.feed;
  var entries = feed.entry || [];
  var html = ['<ul>'];
  for (var i = 0; i < entries.length; i++) {
    var entry = entries[i];
    var title = entry.title.$t;
    html.push('<li>', title, '</li>');
  document.getElementById('videos').innerHTML = html.join('');

This code inserts an unordered list of videos into a <div> (or other block-level element) with the id of "videos" on the page. Each list item will be the video's title.

Of course there is much more you can do, such as showing a thumbnail for the video or using it with our Player APIs. For more examples and code check out the YouTube JSON codelab.