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An attempt to build simple, composable validation toolkit.


Please be prepared for major API update as 1.0 release is on the way. In this new incernation main players of this library are going to be renamed and all pieces beside core validation types (new one based on purescript-validation V are going to be added too) are going to be extracted to separate contrib libraries.


  • Be completely render backend agnostic (form can be rendered as HTML but also as for example... HTTP query).

  • Allow validation to be abstracted over data source, so we can reuse it on the backend or frontend or during typed input validation.

  • But also provide modules dedicated for handling HTTP input or Foreign data.

  • Validation should produce well typed result value and form (aka "report") structure or form filled with errors, so you can always render it.

  • Exact structure of form and fields are up to the user. The main constraint is that form should be a Monoid (it may sound limiting at first but there are also monoids like... Join (->) a ;-)).

  • Provide only minimal representation of form fields with attributes which are relevant to validation.

Validation overview


In Polyform.Validation you can find Validation type - a function which in case of a success produces final result and a monoidal "validation report" value. In case of a validation error it also produces value of this "report" type as a failure representation. Our validation result has type:

  data V r a = Invalid r | Valid r a

You can think about this r as a carrier for some informations you want to produce from validation beside your final value. This "report" possibly contains details about failed or successful processing, but also can carry informations about your validation process (for example marking "pending" validation etc.) or some extra data (like Html field attributes). Some examples:

  • In case of traditional HTML forms it is often a requirement to render a form even if it is completely valid. Or render all valid and invalid fields. In such a case your "report" would be possibly list of fields (some valid and some invalid) and list of form level errors (or even nested subforms with errors). This kind of representation can be easily composable by monoidal append.

  • When you are validating Foreign value you can build representation of your possibly nested tree of objects in your monoidal report and indicate exactly which parts failed to validate (please check Polyform.Input.Foreign if you are interested).

  • Your r can also be this strange a -> a Monoid and represent some transformation (for example a record representation of your form). Simple example can be found here.

Going back to Validation function. It is just a function with additional Monadic context m which produces above V:

  data Validation m e q a = Validation (q -> m (V e a))

We can think of q as an input data/query, m as a computational context, e could be our "report" and a is a result type of successful validation.

Having this structure of validation we can combine (using Applicative or Alt or Category instances - all of them just append our monoidal values) multiple validation functions to produce larger and larger forms even when some of these functions fail.

All combined (using Applicative or Alt) validation functions operate on the same input data in similar way as Applicative instance is implemented for Function type.

Values glued together through Category composition form a processing chain. Inside this chain you can always append "errors" (or any information) to your "form" value. In this manner we are able to perform additional checking, validation etc.

Quick example

To gain some intuition about this library desing and how this architecture of validation works in practice we are going to build record validation backend and some forms from scratch - without any ready to use "helpers" or backends from polyform, but using only Validation.

As we want to validate records we have to somehow fetch values from them pass them to validation functions and accumulate errors or return a result. But how to access a record field... maybe with field accessor - a function like this: _.myField (thanks @thomashoneyman)! This solves our most difficult problem for this backend so let's write some code:

module Main where

import Prelude

import Control.Monad.Eff (Eff)
import Control.Monad.Eff.Console (CONSOLE, log)
import Control.Monad.Eff.Random (random)
import Data.Array (any, elem)
import Data.Maybe (Maybe(..))
import Data.String (Pattern(..), contains, indexOf, length, toCharArray)
import Data.Tuple (Tuple(..))
import Data.Variant (Variant, inj)
import Debug.Trace (traceAnyA)
import Polyform.Validation (V(..), Validation(..), runValidation)
import Polyform.Validation as Validation
import Type.Prelude (SProxy(..))

-- | Let's assume that our fields are really simple
-- | and contain only validation result or
-- | errors which are kept in `Array`.
type Input err value = V (Array err) value

-- | Let's define some simple validators for email field

-- | ...of course they are really dummy validators ;-)

-- | `Validation.hoist*` transform functions to `Validation`

emailFormat = Validation.hoistFnV \e →
  -- | @ is just enough for as to send an email ;-)
  if contains (Pattern "@") e
    then pure e
    else Invalid [inj (SProxy  SProxy "emailFormat") e]

emailIsUsed = Validation.hoistFnMV \e → do
  -- | Some effectful computation inside your monad.
  -- | Let's toss a coin instead of quering the db
  -- | if email is really used :-P
  v ← random
  pure $ if v > 0.5
    then Invalid [inj (SProxy  SProxy "emailIsUsed") e]
    else pure e

-- | Let's define some simple validators for password field.

minLength m = Validation.hoistFnV \p →
  if length p < m
    then Invalid [inj (SProxy  SProxy "minLength") (Tuple m p)]
    else pure p

maxLength m = Validation.hoistFnV \p →
  if length p > m
    then Invalid [inj (SProxy  SProxy "maxLength") (Tuple m p)]
    else pure p

hasDigit = Validation.hoistFnV \p →
    chars = toCharArray p
    if any (_ `elem` chars) (toCharArray "0123456789")
      then pure p
      else Invalid [inj (SProxy  SProxy "hasDigit") p]

-- | Here we are combining validations using categorical
-- | composition so first validation has to succeed
-- | to second could proceed on it's result.
emailFieldValidation = emailFormat >>> emailIsUsed

-- | We are combining validations using applicative
-- | instance which in essence works like that:
-- |
-- | pure (Valid e1 a1) *> pure (Invalid e2) = Invalid (e1 <> e2)
-- | pure (Invalid e1) *> pure (Valid e2 a2) = Invalid (e1 <> e2)
-- | pure (Valid e1 a1) *> pure (Valid e2 a2) = Valid (e1 <> e2) a2
-- |
passwordFieldValidation min max = maxLength max *> minLength min *> hasDigit

-- | It is worth to point out that there is also `Alt` instance
-- | which in essence works like that:
-- |
-- | pure (Valid e1 a1) <|> pure (Invalid e2) = Valid (e1 <> e2) a1
-- | pure (Valid e1 a1) <|> pure (Valid e2 a2) = Valid (e1 <> e2) a1
-- |
-- | It is not used here so sorry for this spam...

-- | Now we are ready to define field type

data Field
  = EmailField
      (Input (Variant (emailFormat ∷ String, emailIsUsed ∷ String)) String)
  | PasswordField
      (Input (Variant (hasDigit ∷ String, maxLength ∷ Tuple Int String, minLength ∷ Tuple Int String)) String)

-- | This is our form type so when you see `Tuple`
-- | below it means that we are building a Form.
-- |
-- | Such a `Tuple` gives us `Monoid` for free.
type Form = Tuple (Array String) (Array Field)

-- | Let's build our form without any external helpers
-- | This function builds a single field form based on:
-- |  * value fetcher
-- |  * field type constructor
-- |  * field validation
-- |
-- | Here we can also observe that validation is
-- | nothing more than a function from an input to
-- | some `V` value in monadic context.
fieldForm fetchValue constructor fieldValidation =
  Validation $ \inputRecord → do
    -- | Fetch field value from record using fetcher
    let inputValue = fetchValue inputRecord
    -- | Run field validation agains this value
    r ← Validation.runValidation fieldValidation inputValue
    -- | Based on field validation result let's return:
    pure $ case r of
      -- | form togheter with result value
      -- | so we can combine both into larger values and forms
      Valid e v → Valid (Tuple [] [constructor (Valid e v)]) v
      -- | or form as representation of our error which
      -- | can be combined with other forms
      Invalid e → Invalid (Tuple [] [constructor (Invalid e)])

emailForm = fieldForm ( EmailField emailFieldValidation

buildPasswordForm fetch = fieldForm fetch PasswordField (passwordFieldValidation 5 50)

-- | This form introduces different level of validation.
-- | Field validations errors are accumulated in our specific case
-- | in on the field level (in the `Array` of `errs`) as defined above.
-- |
-- | Here we introducing form level errors which are aggregated
-- | on the form level inside this first `Array` of `Strings` from
-- | our form `Tuple`.
-- |
-- | I'm talking about the second part of this function...
  = ({password1: _, password2: _} <$> (buildPasswordForm _.password1) <*> (buildPasswordForm _.password2))
  -- | Here we are composing validations
  -- | so previous step results
  -- | (record with two passwords)
  -- | are inputs for this next step.
  -- |
  -- | This is nearly a "function composition"
  -- | (or The Kleis...;-)
  -- | so you can always return from this function
  -- | completely new type. For example here
  -- | we are returning single password value.
  -- |
  -- | Of course this is composition of validation
  -- | function so you can use your monadic context
  -- | here too.
  -- |
  -- | We can always fail here and return
  -- | form representing our failure
  -- | which will be appended to the
  -- | whole form.
  >>> Validation.hoistFnV \{ password1, password2 } →
    if password1 /= password2
      then Invalid (Tuple ["Password dont match"] [])
      else pure password1

signupForm = {password: _, email: _} <$> passwordForm <*> emailForm

printResult =
  case _ of
    Valid form value → do
      log "FORM VALID:"
      traceAnyA form
      log "FINAL VALUE:"
      traceAnyA value

    Invalid form → do
      log "FORM INVALID:"
      traceAnyA form

main = do
  log "EXAMPLE"

  v1 ← runValidation signupForm {email: "wrongemailformat", password1: "shrt", password2: "nodigits"}
  printResult v1

  log "\n\n"

  v2 ← runValidation signupForm {email: "", password1: "password1", password2: "password2"}
  printResult v2

  log "\n\n"

  v3 ← runValidation signupForm {email: "", password1: "password921", password2: "password921"}
  printResult v3

And here is raw output from the above program (of course you result can be different as we using coin tossing as an email validation method :-P):

Tuple {
  value0: [],
   [ PasswordField {
        Invalid {
           [ { type: 'minLength',
               value: Tuple { value0: 5, value1: 'shrt' } },
             { type: 'hasDigit', value: 'shrt' } ] } },
     PasswordField {
       value0: Invalid { value0: [ { type: 'hasDigit', value: 'nodigits' } ] } },
     EmailField {
        Invalid {
           [ { type: 'emailFormat', value: 'wrongemailformat' },
             { type: 'emailIsUsed', value: 'wrongemailformat' } ] } } ] }

Tuple {
  value0: [ 'Password dont match' ],
   [ PasswordField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: 'password1' } },
     PasswordField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: 'password2' } },
     EmailField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: '' } } ] }

Tuple {
  value0: [],
   [ PasswordField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: 'password921' } },
     PasswordField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: 'password921' } },
     EmailField { value0: Valid { value0: [], value1: '' } } ] }
{ password: 'password921', email: '' }

Parallel validation

There is simple wrapper which allows you to execute validations in "parallel" using your underling monad parallelism - check Polyform.Validation.Par. Shortly you can build parrallel execution of validation tree using (alt or apply) for example like this:

sequential $ { email: _, password: _} <$> parallel emailForm <*> parallel passwordForm

You have to use sequential and parallel from Polyform.Validation.Par as I'm not able to implement Parallel instance for non monad (Validation doesn't form a Monad).

Project structure

  • Validation is the core part of this library where validation type is defined and it's parallel wrapper.

  • Field contains some proposition which can be a base for Html (especially Field.Html5) form validation. Other types of validation could also reuse parts of this helpers. You can find there also some generic solutions for choice and multichoice validation.

  • Form provides two types of components.

    • First builds up default form value when composed.

    • Second also composes serialization function. You can generate input for your form from your final value. Be careful it generated input doesn't have to be "valid" (you should probably mark input elements which you don't want to validate) ;-)

  • Input is a battle field which explores validation scenarios for different types of input. Currently we have: Input.Foreign, Input.Http and Input.Interpret.

API Documentation

Module documentation is published on Pursuit.


@thomashoneyman helped me a lot to develop and document this library. Thanks!