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This proposal is under construction and is not ready for review.

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Zend Framework: Zend_Validate_Builder, Zend_Filter_Builder Component Proposal

Proposed Component Name Zend_Validate_Builder, Zend_Filter_Builder
Developer Notes http://framework.zend.com/wiki/display/ZFDEV/Zend_Validate_Builder, Zend_Filter_Builder
Proposers Bryce Lohr
Revision 0.1 - Initial version (wiki revision: 7)

Table of Contents

1. Overview

I'd like to propose an alternative to the Zend_Validate_Input proposal. Bill Karwin and others have put a lot of time and energy into that work, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them. This is built upon those, and I'd like to acknowledge that up front.

This proposal is inspired by Christopher Thompson's original Zend_FilterChain proposal, and provides a similar interface. I feel this comes much closer to satisfying the 80/20 rule for most people's validation needs than the previous ones have.

I actually propose quite a bit of change here, beyond just what the title implies. Here's a quick rundown to get started:

  • Zend_Filter_Builder, in addition to just Zend_Validate_Builder
  • Facades providing a fluent interface for both Builder classes
  • Several new Zend_Validate_* classes
  • Changes to Zend_Validate_Interface
  • Changes to how Zend_Validate_* deal with error messages

2. References

3. Component Requirements, Constraints, and Acceptance Criteria

  • Zend_Validate_Builder manages exactly one responsibility: validating sets of data in arrays
  • Zend_Filter_Builder manages exactly one responsibility: filtering sets of data in arrays
  • Neither component handles any other aspect of form processing
  • No mechanism for statically calling filters or validators is provided (out of scope)
  • This requires some changes to the design of existing Zend_Validate_* classes

4. Dependencies on Other Framework Components

  • Zend_Validate_Interface
  • Zend_Filter_Interface
  • Zend_Validate_*
  • Zend_Filter_*
  • Zend_Exception

5. Theory of Operation

Essentially, Zend_Validate_Builder and Zend_Filter_Builder use the Builder and Composite patterns to construct a recursive tree structure of Zend_Validate_* or Zend_Filter_* instances, which is then applied wholesale to an array of input data. In the case of Zend_Filter_Builder, the result is the original input array after having each of the constituent filters applied to each input array element. In the case of Zend_Validate_Builder, the result is a boolean value indicating whether any single element in the input data was deemed invalid by any of the constituent Zend_Validate_* instances.

Zend_Validate_Builder provides no mechanism for managing error messages. Error messages are a vital part of validating data, however, they have no business in the Controller layer, where Zend_Validate_Builder lives. They belong in the View layer, and are just as important to the presentation of a site as the stylesheet or localization settings. To allow error messages to be managed outside of Zend_Validate_*, I propose some changes to the design of those classes, which are detailed below.

In addition to the Builder classes, I also propose Zend_Validate_Builder_FluentFacade and Zend_Filter_Builder_FluentFacade. These classes provide a very elegant and easy to use fluent interface to the Builder classes, and their use is totally optional. The Builder classes in no way depend on these.

Changes to Zend_Validate_Interface and Zend_Validate_*

In order for the proposed Builder classes to operate, I need to make the following changes to Zend_Validate_Interface. Here's the current code and the new code, with comments stripped out for clarity:

Current Zend_Validate_Interface
New Zend_Validate_Interface

The new interface adds an optional parameter, $field, to the isValid() method, and removes the getMessages() method from the interface. These changes should be completely backward-compatible, since removal of getMessages() from the interface does not require removal from the implementations, and the optional second parameter to isValid() can easily be ignored.

Currently, Zend_Validate_Interface implementations internally create their own error messages, and assign these to a random numeric index in an array. With regard to these, I propose that instead of the numeric indices, specific unique string indices be assigned. These should represent what I refer to as the "reason code". Most Zend_Validate_* classes have only one reason why a value whould fail validation, but some (such as Zend_Validate_EmailAddress) are more complex and have several potential failure reasons. The change I propose here would involved going through all the current Zend_Validate_* classes and manually assigning unique reason codes to each error message they currently generate. This would be done by simply setting the array index the error message is currently assigned to, to the new reason code.

Here's an example validator that preserves all the current functionality, but with the new interface:

Example New Validator

As I mentioned previously, I don't believe error messages should be here anyway, but with this change, you can easily override the default error handler with your own. The error handler will tell you which field failed validation, and why, and you can let your View code map that to the appropriate error message for the user.

6. Milestones / Tasks

  • Milestone 1: [DONE] Design interface and test feasibility
  • Milestone 2: Write proposal, gather community feedback
  • Milestone 3: Flesh out proof of concept and revise design based on feedback, if necessary
  • Milestone 4: Develop full implementation and unit tests
  • Milestone 5: Write documentation

7. Class Index

  • Zend_Validate_Builder
  • Zend_Validate_Builder_FluentFacade
  • Zend_Filter_Builder
  • Zend_Filter_Builder_FluentFacade
  • Zend_Validate_Array
  • Zend_Validate_Switch
  • Zend_Validate_AtMostNofM
  • Zend_Validate_AtLeastNofM
  • Zend_Validate_Equals

8. Use Cases

UC-01

... (see good use cases book)

9. Class Skeletons

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