Hilla Documentation

Validating User Input

Hilla helps you validate user input based on the backend Java data model. It reads the Bean Validation (JSR-380) annotations on your Java data types and applies these constraints to the user input. Validation is enabled by default in all forms created with the Hilla Binder API.

When creating forms in TypeScript with Lit and the Binder API, all data model constraints are automatically applied to your form fields. The Binder API validates most standard constraints, such as @Max, @Size, @Pattern, @Email on the client side, without a network round-trip delay (see the full list in the Built-In Client-Side Validators section later). When you eventually submit data to server-side endpoints, Hilla validates all constraints on the server as well. The Binder API updates the form to show any server-side validation errors.

Specifying Constraints

Constraints are specified as a part of the data model, in the Java code. You can use any of the built-in constraints in addition to your own.

import javax.validation.constraints.Email;
import javax.validation.constraints.NotBlank;

public class Employee {
    @NotBlank
    private String username;

    private String title;

    @Email(message = "Please enter a valid e-mail address")
    private String email;

    // + other fields, constructors, setters and getters
}

During the build, when Hilla generates TypeScript types, it includes the constraint information in the generated model types. All forms that work with the same entity type have the same set of constraints.

When you create a form for an entity type, it gets the user input validation automatically.

import { Binder, field } from '@hilla/form';
import EmployeeModel from 'Frontend/generated/com/example/application/EmployeeModel';

...

private binder = new Binder(this, EmployeeModel);

render() {
  const { model } = this.binder;

  return html`
    <vaadin-text-field label="Username"
      ${field(model.username)}></vaadin-text-field>
    <vaadin-text-field label="Title"
      ${field(model.title)}></vaadin-text-field>
    <vaadin-email-field label="Email"
      ${field(model.email)}></vaadin-email-field>
  `;
}

The validation errors

Defining Custom Constraints

The Bean Validation standard allows the creation of arbitrary custom constraints. The Hilla form Binder API also supports such custom constraints. The example that follows shows how to create and use a custom @StrongPassword constraint:

@Retention(RUNTIME)
@Target({ METHOD, FIELD, ANNOTATION_TYPE, CONSTRUCTOR, PARAMETER, TYPE_USE })
@Constraint(validatedBy = { StrongPasswordValidator.class })
public @interface StrongPassword {

    // min required password strength on the scale from 1 to 5
    int minStrength() default 4;

    String message() default "Please enter a strong password";
    Class<?>[] groups() default { };
    Class<? extends Payload>[] payload() default { };
}
public class StrongPasswordValidator implements ConstraintValidator<StrongPassword, String> {

    @Override
    public boolean isValid(String object, ConstraintValidatorContext constraintContext) {
        // Use the zxcvbn library to measure the password strength
        Strength strength = zxcvbn.measure(object);

        // fail the validation if the measured strength is insufficient
        if (strength.getScore() < minStrength) {
            constraintContext
                .buildConstraintViolationWithTemplate(
                        strength.getFeedback().getWarning())
                .addConstraintViolation();
            return false;
        }

        return true;
    }
}

In this example, we use a third-party library to measure password strength in order to implement the custom validator. Add a dependency to your pom.xml:

<dependency>
    <groupId>com.nulab-inc</groupId>
    <artifactId>zxcvbn</artifactId>
    <version>1.3.0</version>
</dependency>
public class Employee {

    @StrongPassword
    private String password;
}

No additional steps are needed to start using the new validation rules in forms. The field() directive applies all server-side constraints automatically.

private binder = new Binder(this, EmployeeModel);

render() {
  const { model } = this.binder;

  return html`
    <vaadin-password-field label="Password"
      ${field(model.password)}></vaadin-password-field>

    <vaadin-button @click="${this.save}">Save</vaadin-button>
  `;
}

However, notice that, in this example, validation happens only after the form is submitted. To validate user input immediately, as the user types, you would need to define a validator in TypeScript, as well. The following section shows how to do this.

Defining Custom Client-Side Validators

To give instant feedback to users as they type, you can define validators in TypeScript, so that they are executed in the browser, without a network round trip. The Hilla form Binder API allows you to add validators for both individual fields, and for the form as a whole (for example to implement cross-field validation). Client-side validators are executed before the server-side validation is invoked.

Warning
Validation ALWAYS needs to run on the server in order for your application to be secure. Additionally, you can validate input in the browser immediately the user types, to give a better user experience.

Adding Validators for a Single Field

When a validation rule concerns a single field, a client-side validator should be added with the addValidator() call on the binder node for that particular field. This is the case with the custom @StrongPassword constraint example.

Custom Field Validation Error

import * as owasp from 'owasp-password-strength-test';

// binder.for() returns a binder for the password field
const model = this.binder.model;
this.binder.for(model.password).addValidator({
  message: 'Please enter a strong password',
  validate: (password: string) => {
    const result = owasp.test(password);
    if (result.strong) {
      return true;
    }
    return { property: model.password, message: result.errors[0] };
  },
});

In this example, we use a third-party library to measure password strength in order to implement the custom validator. Add a dependency to your package.json:

npm install --save owasp-password-strength-test
npm install --save-dev @types/owasp-password-strength-test

Adding Cross-Field Validators

When a validation rule is based on several fields, a client-side validator should be added with the addValidator() call on the form binder directly. A typical example where this would be needed is checking that a password is repeated correctly:

private binder = new Binder(this, EmployeeModel);

render() {
  return html`
    <vaadin-password-field label="Password"
      ${field(model.password)}></vaadin-password-field>
    <vaadin-password-field label="Repeat password"
      ${field(model.repeatPassword)}></vaadin-password-field>
  `;
}

protected firstUpdated() {

  const model = this.binder.model;
  this.binder.addValidator({
    message: 'Please check that the password is repeated correctly',
    validate: (value: Employee) => {
      if (value.password != value.repeatPassword) {
        return [{ property: model.password }];
      }
      return [];
    }
  });
}

When record-level validation fails, there are cases when you want to mark several fields as invalid. To do this with the @hilla/form validator APIs, you can return an array of { property, message } records from the validate() callback. Returning an empty array is equivalent to returning true, meaning that validation has passed. If you need to indicate a validation failure without marking any particular field as invalid, return false.

Marking Fields as Required

To mark a form field as 'required', you can add a @NotNull or @NotEmpty constraint to the corresponding property in the Java type. @Size with a min value greater than 0 also causes a field to be required.

Alternatively, you can set the impliesRequired property when adding a custom validator in TypeScript, as shown earlier, in the /data-binding/binder-validation section.

The fields marked as required have their required property set by the field() directive. Hence, validation fails if they are left empty.

Built-In Client-Side Validators

The @hilla/form package provides the client-side validators for the following JSR-380 built-in constraints:

  1. Email – The string must be a well-formed email address

  2. Null – Must be null

  3. NotNull – Must not be null

  4. NotEmpty – Must not be null nor empty (must have a length property, for example string or array)

  5. NotBlank – Must not be null and must contain at least one non-whitespace character

  6. AssertTrue – Must be true

  7. AssertFalse – Must be false

  8. Min – Must be a number greater than or equal to the specified minimum

    • Additional options: { value: number | string }

  9. Max - Must be a number less than or equal to the specified maximum

    • Additional options: { value: number | string }

  10. DecimalMin – Must be a number greater than or equal to the specified minimum

    • Additional options: { value: number | string, inclusive: boolean | undefined }

  11. DecimalMax – Must be a number less than or equal to the specified maximum

    • Additional options: { value: number | string, inclusive: boolean | undefined }

  12. Negative – Must be a negative number (0 is considered to be an invalid value)

  13. NegativeOrZero – Must be a negative number or 0

  14. Positive – Must be a positive number (0 is considered to be an invalid value)

  15. PositiveOrZero – Must be a positive number or 0

  16. Size – Size must be in the specified range, inclusive; must have a length property, for example a string or an array

    • Additional options: { min?: number, max?: number }

  17. Digits – Must be a number within the specified range

    • Additional options: { integer: number, fraction: number }

  18. Past – A date string in the past

  19. PastOrPresent – A date string in the past or present

  20. Future – A date string in the future

  21. FutureOrPresent – A date string in the future or present

  22. Pattern – Must match the specified regular expression

    • Additional options: { regexp: RegExp | string }

These are usually used automatically. However, you could also add them to selected fields manually with binder.for(myFieldModel).addValidator(validator); for example, addValidator(new Size({max: 10, message: 'Must be 10 characters or less'})).

All the built-in validators take one constructor parameter, which is usually an optional options object with a message?: string property (which defaults to 'invalid'). However, some validators have additional options or support other argument types, instead of the options object.

For example, the Min validator requires a value: number | string option. This can be given as part of the options object. Alternatively, you can pass just the minimum value itself, instead of the options object (if you do not want to set message and leave it as the default 'invalid').

import { Binder, field, NotEmpty, Min, Size, Email } from '@hilla/form';

@customElement('my-demo-view')
export class MyDemoView extends LitElement {
  private binder = new Binder(this, PersonModel);

  protected firstUpdated(_changedProperties: any) {
    super.firstUpdated(args);

    const model = this.binder.model;

    this.binder.for(model.name).addValidator(
      new NotEmpty({
        message: 'Please enter a name'
      }));

    this.binder.for(model.username).addValidator(
      new Size({
        message: 'Please pick a username 3 to 15 symbols long',
        min: 3,
        max: 15
      }));

    this.binder.for(model.age).addValidator(
      new Min({
        message: 'Please enter an age of 18 or above',
        value: 18
      }));

    this.binder.for(model.email).addValidator(new Email());
  }

  render() {
    const model = this.binder.model;
    return html`
      <vaadin-text-field label="Name"
        ${field(model.name)}"></vaadin-text-field>
      <vaadin-text-field label="Username"
        ${field(model.username)}"></vaadin-text-field>
      <vaadin-integer-field label="Age"
        ${field(model.age)}"></vaadin-integer-field>
      <vaadin-email-field label="Email"
        ${field(model.email)}"></vaadin-email-field>
    `;
  }
}

Validation Message Interpolation

You can use the low-level interpolateMessageCallback() API to customize the validation messages on the client side before they are displayed to the user. This can be used for localization purposes.

Binder has an optional static property interpolateMessageCallback which is shared by all binder instances. It can be set to a callback function that returns the validation message you want to display to the user. The interpolateMessageCallback() is called every time a validator returns a message as a result of a validation being run. It receives the original validation message string, the Validator instance, as well as the related BinderNode, as context which can be used to decide what message you want to return.

Callback Parameters

interpolateMessageCallback() receives the following parameters and returns a string.

ParameterTypeDescription

message

string

The original validation message returned by the Validator. This may be a default validation message from a built-in validator, custom validator or a custom message defined on a Java Bean Validation annotation of a specific field.

validator

Validator<any>

The Validator instance that returned the message.

binderNode

BinderNode<any, AbstractModel<any>>

The BinderNode instance for which the validation was run. You can get the related model, value or Binder instance from the binder node.

Message Interpolation Example

This example shows how to use the lit-translate package together with interpolateMessageCallback() to translate validation error messages. Make sure to install the lit-translate npm package first.

// ... other imports
import { get, registerTranslateConfig, use } from 'lit-translate';

// Configure lit-translate
const translateConfig = registerTranslateConfig({
  loader: lang => fetch(`/i18n/${lang}.json`).then(res => res.json()),
});
use('fi');

Binder.interpolateMessageCallback = (message, validator, binderNode) => {
  // Try to find a translation for the specific type of validator
  let key = `validationError.${validator.constructor.name}`;

  // Special case for DecimalMin and DecimalMax validators to use different message based on "inclusive" property
  if (['validationError.DecimalMin', 'validationError.DecimalMax'].includes(key)) {
    key += (validator as any).inclusive ? '.inclusive' : '.exclusive';
  }

  if (translateConfig.lookup(key, translateConfig)) {
    return get(key, validator as any);
  }

  // Fall back to original message if no translations are found
  return message;
};

// ... Router configuration

Sample translations for all error messages of built-in validators.

{
  "validationError": {
    "AssertFalse": "täytyy olla epätosi",
    "AssertTrue": "täytyy olla tosi",
    "DecimalMax": {
      "inclusive": "täytyy olla pienempi tai yhtä suuri kuin {{ value }}",
      "exclusive": "täytyy olla pienempi kuin {{ value }}"
    },
    "DecimalMin": {
      "inclusive": "täytyy olla suurempi tai yhtä suuri kuin {{ value }}",
      "exclusive": "täytyy olla suurempi kuin {{ value }}"
    },
    "Digits": "numero ei täsmää rajoituksiin (<{{ integer }} numeroa>.<{{ fraction }} numeroa> odotettu)",
    "Email": "täytyy olla kelvollinen sähköpostiosoite",
    "Future": "täytyy olla tuleva päivämäärä",
    "Max": "täytyy olla pienempi tai yhtä suuri kuin {{ value }}",
    "Min": "täytyy olla suurempi tai yhtä suuri kuin {{ value }}",
    "Negative": "täytyy olla pienempi kuin 0",
    "NegativeOrZero": "täytyy olla pienempi tai yhtä suuri kuin 0",
    "NotBlank": "ei saa olla tyhjä",
    "NotEmpty": "ei saa olla tyhjä",
    "NotNull": "ei saa olla null",
    "Null": "täytyy olla null",
    "Past": "täytyy olla menneisyyden päivämäärä",
    "Pattern": "täytyy täsmätä seuraavaan säännölliseen lausekkeeseen (regexp): {{ regexp }}",
    "Positive": "täytyy olla suurempi kuin 0",
    "PositiveOrZero": "täytyy olla suurempi tai yhtä suuri kuin 0",
    "Size": "pituuden täytyy olla {{ min }} ja {{ max }} väliltä"
  }
}