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JSON has became a de-facto standard for webservices, replacing XML web services. It has native support in web browser clients.
That makes JSON is the standard of choice for UI-oriented services. It has a good support on mobile devices. Also, it provides smaller data payload size compared to XML and it’s very sufficient for high-load systems as it saves a traffic. But what is for data validation? For XML web services there is a XML Schema. It comes ti mind, that similar standard for JSON should be called «JSON Schema». And it really exists!
If you need Google Protobuf-to-JSON serialization (and vice versa) there is quick solution. Protobuf-java-format library provides serialization of protobuf-generated java classes to number of formats: JSON, XML, HTML, Java property file format, Smile, CoachDB.
Here is a step-by-step instruction.