If this site looks like json.org, it's because we
think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Ren was born of a desire for a lightweight data exchange language that is easy to use in non-wire-transport scenarios like configuration files. The main influence on Ren's design was the REBOL messaging language, by Carl Sassenrath, which also influenced Red.
TOML is another highly focused language that has a number of implementations. Like JSON it strives for a minimal design that meets a specific need. In TOML's case, that need is mapping configuration file data to hash tables. TOML also includes support for date-time values and does not require the names in name-value pairs to be enclosed in quotes. It also doesn't require commas between name-value pairs, which makes it much nicer for its intended use.
JSON and TOML aren't the only formats available of course. There are YAML, EDN, ProtoBuf, Thrift, MessagePack, and more. Each has its strengths, and each has different goals and priorities. Ren is no different. Ren's goals are similar to those of YAML, but with a key added goal of simplicity. YAML looks simple on the surface, but has a large spec that belies hidden complexity. Unlike YAML, indentation and dashes have no special meaning in Ren. A key phrase from the YAML spec, that Ren agrees with is:
When data is easy to view and understand, programming becomes a simpler task.