Laurent Dami

NAME

Data::Domain - Data description and validation

SYNOPSIS

  use Data::Domain qw/:all/;

  # some basic domains
  my $int_dom      = Int(-min => 3, -max => 18);
  my $nat_dom      = Nat(-max => 100); # natural numbers
  my $num_dom      = Num(-min => 3.33, -max => 18.5);
  my $string_dom   = String(-min_length => 2, -optional => 1);
  my $handle_dom   = Handle;
  my $enum_dom     = Enum(qw/foo bar buz/);
  my $int_list_dom = List(-min_size => 1, -all => Int);
  my $mixed_list   = List(String, Int(-min => 0), Date, True, Defined);
  my $struct_dom   = Struct(foo => String, bar => Int(-optional => 1));
  my $obj_dom      = Obj(-can => 'print');
  my $class_dom    = Class(-can => 'print');

  # using the domain to check data
  my $error_messages = $domain->inspect($some_data);
  reject_form($error_messages) if $error_messages;

  # same, using the smart match API
  $some_other_data ~~ $domain
    or die "did not match because $Data::Domain::MESSAGE";

  # custom name and custom messages (2 different ways)
  $domain = Int(-name => 'age', -min => 3, -max => 18, 
                -messages => "only for people aged 3-18");
  $domain = Int(-name => 'age', -min => 3, -max => 18, -messages => {
                   TOO_BIG   => "not for old people over %d",
                   TOO_SMALL => "not for babies under %d",
                 });

  # examples of subroutines for specialized domains
  sub Phone   { String(-regex    => qr/^\+?[0-9() ]+$/, 
                       -messages => "Invalid phone number", @_) }
  sub Email   { String(-regex    => qr/^[-.\w]+\@[\w.]+$/,
                       -messages => "Invalid email", @_) }
  sub Contact { Struct(-fields => [name   => String,
                                   phone  => Phone,
                                   mobile => Phone(-name => 'Mobile',
                                                   -optional => 1),
                                   emails => List(-all => Email)   ], @_) }

  # lazy subdomain
  $domain = Struct(
    date_begin => Date(-max => 'today'),
    date_end   => sub {my $context = shift;
                       Date(-min => $context->{flat}{date_begin})},
  );

  # recursive domain
  my $expr_domain;
  $expr_domain = One_of(Num, Struct(operator => String(qr(^[-+*/]$)),
                                    left     => sub {$expr_domain},
                                    right    => sub {$expr_domain}));

  # constants in deep datastructures
  $domain = Struct( foo => 123,                     # 123   becomes a domain
                    bar => List(Int, 'buz', Int) ); # 'buz' becomes a domain

  # list with repetitive structure (here : triples)
  my $domain = List(-all => [String, Int, Obj(-can => 'print')]);

DESCRIPTION

A data domain is a description of a set of values, either scalar or structured (arrays or hashes). The description can include many constraints, like minimal or maximal values, regular expressions, required fields, forbidden fields, and also contextual dependencies. From that description, one can then invoke the domain's inspect method to check if a given value belongs to the domain or not. In case of mismatch, a structured set of error messages is returned, giving detailed explanations about what was wrong.

The motivation for writing this package was to be able to express in a compact way some possibly complex constraints about structured data. Typically the data is a Perl tree (nested hashrefs or arrayrefs) that may come from XML, JSON, from a database through DBIx::DataModel, or from postprocessing an HTML form through CGI::Expand. Data::Domain is a kind of tree parser on that structure, with some facilities for dealing with dependencies within the structure, and with several options to finely tune the error messages returned to the user.

The main usage for Data::Domain is to check input from forms in interactive applications : the structured error messages make it easy to display a form again, highlighting which fields were rejected and why. Another usage is for writing automatic tests, with the help of the companion module Test::InDomain.

There are several other packages in CPAN doing data validation; these are briefly listed in the "SEE ALSO" section.

EXPORTS

Domain constructors

  use Data::Domain qw/:all/;
  # or
  use Data::Domain qw/:constructors/;
  # or
  use Data::Domain qw/Whatever Empty
                      Num Int Nat Date Time String
                      Enum List Struct One_of All_of/;

Internally, domains are represented as Perl objects; however, it would be tedious to write

  my $domain = Data::Domain::Struct->new(
    anInt => Data::Domain::Int->new(-min => 3, -max => 18),
    aDate => Data::Domain::Date->new(-max => 'today'),
    ...
  );

so for each of its builtin domain constructors, Data::Domain exports a plain function that just calls new on the appropriate subclass; these functions are all exported in in a group called :constructors, and allow us to write more compact code :

  my $domain = Struct(
    anInt => Int(-min => 3, -max => 18),
    aDate => Date(-max => 'today'),
    ...
  );

The list of available domain constructors will be expanded below in "BUILTIN DOMAIN CONSTRUCTORS".

Shortcuts (domains with predefined options)

  use Data::Domain qw/:all/;
  # or
  use Data::Domain qw/:shortcuts/;
  # or
  use Data::Domain qw/True False Defined Undef Blessed Unblessed Regexp
                      Obj Class/;

The :shortcuts export group contains a number of convenience functions that call the "Whatever" domain constructor with various pre-built options. Precise definitions for each of these functions will be given below in "BUILTIN SHORTCUTS".

Renaming imported functions

Short function names like Int, String, List, Obj, True, etc. are convenient but may cause name clashes with other modules. Thanks to the powerful features of Sub::Exporter, these functions can be renamed in various ways. Here is an example :

  use Data::Domain -all => { -prefix => 'dom_' };
  my $domain = dom_Struct(
    anInt => dom_Int(-min => 3, -max => 18),
    aDate => dom_Date(-max => 'today'),
    ...
  );

There are a number of other ways to rename imported functions; see Sub::Exporter and Sub::Exporter::Tutorial.

Removing symbols from the import list

To preserve backwards compatibility with Exporter, the present module also supports exclamation marks to exclude some specific symbols from the import list. For example

  use Data::Domain qw/:all !Date/;

will import everything except the Date function.

METHODS COMMON TO ALL DOMAINS

new

The new method creates a new domain object, from one of the domain constructors listed below (Num, Int, Date, etc.). The Data::Domain class itself has no new method, because it is an abstract class.

This method is seldom called explicitly; it is usually more convenient to use the wrapper subroutines introduced above, i.e. to write Int(@args) instead of Data::Domain::Int->new(@args). All examples below will use this shorter notation.

Arguments to the new method may specify various options for the domain to be constructed. Option names always start with a dash. If no option name is given, parameters to the new method are passed to the default option defined in each constructor subclass. For example the default option in Data::Domain::List is -items, so

   my $domain = List(Int, String, Int);

is equivalent to

   my $domain = List(-items => [Int, String, Int]);

So in short, the "default option" is syntactic sugar for using positional parameters instead of named parameters.

Each domain constructor has its own list of available options; these will be presented below, together with each subclass (for example options for setting minimal/maximal values, regular expressions, string length, etc.). However, there are also some generic options, available in every domain constructor; these are listed here, in several categories.

Options for customizing the domain behaviour

-optional

If true, the domain will accept undef, without generating an error message.

-name

Defines a name for the domain, that will be printed in error messages instead of the subclass name.

-messages

Defines ad hoc messages for that domain, instead of the builtin messages. The argument can be a string, a hashref or a coderef, as explained in the "CUSTOMIZING ERROR MESSAGES" section.

Options for checking boolean properties

Options in this category check if the data possesses, or does not possess, a given property; hence, the argument to each option must be a boolean. For example, here is a domain that accepts all blessed objects that are not weak references and are not readonly :

  $domain = Whatever(-blessed => 1, -weak => 0, -readonly => 0);

Boolean property options are :

-true

Checks if the data is true.

-blessed

Checks if the data is blessed, according to "blessed" in Scalar::Util.

-package

Checks if the data is a package. This is considered true whenever the data is not a reference and satisfies $data->isa($data).

-ref

Checks if the data is a reference.

-isweak

Checks if the data is a weak reference, according to "isweak" in Scalar::Util.

-readonly

Checks if the data is readonly, according to "readonly" in Scalar::Util.

-tainted

Checks if the data is tainted, according to "tainted" in Scalar::Util.

Options for checking other general properties

Options in this category do not take a boolean argument, but a class name, method name, role or smart match operand.

-isa

Checks if the data is an object or a subclass of the specified class; this is checked through eval {$data->isa($class)}.

-can

Checks if the data implements the listed methods, supplied either as an arrayref (several methods) or as a scalar (just one method); this is checked through eval {$data->can($method)}.

-does

Checks if the data does the supplied role; this is checked through Scalar::Does.

-matches

Checks if the data smart matches the supplied right operand (i.e. $data ~~ $domain->{-matches}).

EXPERIMENTAL: options for checking return values

Disclaimer: options in this section are still experimental; the call API or structure of returned values might change in future versions of Data::Domain.

These options call methods or coderefs within the data, and then check the results against the supplied domains. This is somehow contrary to the principle of "domains", because a function call or method call not only inspects the data : it might also alter the data. However, one could also argue that peeking into an object's internals is contrary to the principle of encapsulation, so in this sense, method calls are more appropriate. You decide ... but beware of side-effects in your data!

-has
  $domain = Obj(-has => [
     foo          => String,               # ->foo() must return a String
     foo          => [-all => String],     # ->foo() in list context must
                                           # return a list of Strings
     [bar => 123] => Obj(-can => 'print'), # ->bar(123) must return a printable obj
   ]);

The -has option takes an arrayref argument; that arrayref must contain pairs of ($method_spec => $expected_result), where

  • $method_spec is either a method name, or an arrayref containing the method name followed by the list of arguments for calling the method.

  • $expected_result is either a domain, or an arrayref containing arguments for a List(...) domain. In the former case, the method call will be performed in scalar context; in the latter case, it will be performed in list context, and the resulting list will be checked against a List domain built from the given arguments.

Note that this property can be invoked not only on Obj, but on any domain; hence, it is possible to simultaneously check if an object has some given internal structure, and also answers to some method calls :

  $domain = Struct(              # must be a hashref
    -fields => {foo => String}   # must have a {foo} key with a String value
    -has    => [foo => String],  # must have a ->foo method that returns a String
   );
-returns
  $domain = Whatever(-returns => [
     []         => String,
     [123, 456] => Int,
   ]);

The -returns option treats the data as a coderef. It takes an arrayref argument; that arrayref must contain pairs of ($call_spec => $expected_result), where

  • $call_spec is an arrayref containing the list of arguments for calling the subroutine.

  • $expected_result is either a domain, or an arrayref containing arguments for a List(...) domain. In the former case, the method call will be performed in scalar context; in the latter case, it will be performed in list context.

inspect

  my $messages = $domain->inspect($some_data);

This method inspects the supplied data, and returns an error message (or a structured collection of messages) if anything is wrong. If the data successfully passed all domain tests, the method returns undef.

For scalar domains (Num, String, etc.), the error message is just a string. For structured domains (List, Struct), the return value is an arrayref or hashref of the same structure, like for example

  {anInt => "smaller than mimimum 3",
   aDate => "not a valid date",
   aList => ["message for item 0", undef, undef, "message for item 3"]}

The client code can then exploit this structure to dispatch error messages to appropriate locations (like for example the form fields from which the data was gathered).

smart match

Data::Domain overloads the smart match operator ~~, so one can write

  if ($data ~~ $domain) {...}

instead of

  if (!my $msg = $domain->inspect($data)) {...}

The error message from the last smart match operation can be retrieved from $Data::Domain::MESSAGE.

stringification

When printed, domains stringify to a compact Data::Dumper representation of their internal attributes; these details can be useful for debugging or logging purposes.

BUILTIN DOMAIN CONSTRUCTORS

Whatever

  my $just_anything = Whatever;
  my $is_defined    = Whatever(-defined => 1);
  my $is_undef      = Whatever(-defined => 0);
  my $is_true       = Whatever(-true => 1);
  my $is_false      = Whatever(-true => 0);
  my $is_of_class   = Whatever(-isa  => 'Some::Class');
  my $does_role     = Whatever(-does => 'Some::Role');
  my $has_methods   = Whatever(-can  => [qw/jump swim dance sing/]);

The Data::Domain::Whatever domain can contain any kind of Perl value, including undef (actually this is the only domain that contains undef). The only specific option is :

-defined

If true, the data must be defined. If false, the data must be undef.

The Whatever is mostly used together with some of the general options described above, like -true, -does, -can, etc.

Empty

The Data::Domain::Empty domain always fails when inspecting any data. This is sometimes useful within lazy constructors, like in this example :

  Struct(
    foo => String,
    bar => sub {
      my $context = shift;
      if (some_condition($context)) { 
        return Empty(-messages => 'your data is wrong')
      }
      else {
        ...
      }
    }
  )

The "LAZY CONSTRUCTORS" section gives more explanations about lazy domains.

Num

  my $domain = Num(-range =>[-3.33, 999], -not_in => [2, 3, 5, 7, 11]);

Domain for numbers (including floats). Numbers are recognized through "looks_like_number" in Scalar::Util. Options for the domain are :

-min

The data must be greater or equal to the supplied value.

-max

The data must be smaller or equal to the supplied value.

-range

-range => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min => $min, -max => $max.

-not_in

The data must be different from all values in the exclusion set, supplied as an arrayref.

Int

  my $domain = Int(-min => -999, -max => 999, -not_in => [2, 3, 5, 7, 11]);

Domain for integers. Integers are recognized through the regular expression /^-?\d+$/. This domain accepts the same options as Num and returns the same error messages.

Nat

  my $domain = Nat(-max => 999);

Domain for natural numbers (i.e. positive integers). Natural numbers are recognized through the regular expression /^\d+$/. This domain accepts the same options as Num and returns the same error messages.

Date

  Data::Domain::Date->parser('EU'); # default
  my $domain = Date(-min => '01.01.2001',
                    -max => 'today',
                    -not_in => ['02.02.2002', '03.03.2003', 'yesterday']);

Domain for dates, implemented via the Date::Calc module. By default, dates are parsed according to the European format, i.e. through the Decode_Date_EU method; this can be changed by setting

  Data::Domain::Date->parser('US'); # will use Decode_Date_US

or

  Data::Domain::Date->parser(\&your_own_date_parsing_function);
  # that func. should return an array ($year, $month, $day)

Options to this domain are:

-min

The data must be greater or equal to the supplied value. That value can be either a regular date, or one of the special keywords today, yesterday or tomorrow; these will be replaced by the appropriate date when performing comparisons.

-max

The data must be smaller or equal to the supplied value. Of course the same special keywords (as for -min) are also admitted.

-range

-range => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min => $min, -max => $max.

-not_in

The data must be different from all values in the exclusion set, supplied as an arrayref.

When outputting error messages, dates will be printed according to Date::Calc's current language (english by default); see that module's documentation for changing the language.

Time

  my $domain = Time(-min => '08:00', -max => 'now');

Domain for times in format hh:mm:ss (minutes and seconds are optional).

Options to this domain are:

-min

The data must be greater or equal to the supplied value. The special keyword now may be used as a value, and will be replaced by the current local time when performing comparisons.

-max

The data must be smaller or equal to the supplied value. The special keyword now may also be used as a value.

-range

-range => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min => $min, -max => $max.

String

  my $domain = String(qr/^[A-Za-z0-9_\s]+$/);

  my $domain = String(-regex     => qr/^[A-Za-z0-9_\s]+$/,
                      -antiregex => qr/$RE{profanity}/,  # see Regexp::Common
                      -range     => ['AA', 'zz'],
                      -length    => [1, 20],
                      -not_in    => [qw/foo bar/]);

Domain for strings. Things considered as strings are either scalar values, or objects with an overloaded stringification method; by contrast, a hash reference is not considered to be a string, even if it can stringify to something like "HASH(0x3f9fc4)" or "Some::Class=HASH(0x3f9fc4)" through Perl's internal rules.

Options to this domain are:

-regex

The data must match the supplied compiled regular expression. Don't forget to put ^ and $ anchors if you want your regex to check the whole string.

-regex is the default option, so you may just pass the regex as a single unnamed argument to String().

-antiregex

The data must not match the supplied regex.

-min

The data must be greater or equal to the supplied value.

-max

The data must be smaller or equal to the supplied value.

-range

-range => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min => $min, -max => $max.

-min_length

The string length must be greater or equal to the supplied value.

-max_length

The string length must be smaller or equal to the supplied value.

-length

-length => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min_length => $min, -max_length => $max.

-not_in

The data must be different from all values in the exclusion set, supplied as an arrayref.

Handle

  my $domain = Handle();

Domain for filehandles. This domain has no options. Domain membership is checked through "openhandle" in Scalar::Util.

Enum

  my $domain = Enum(qw/foo bar buz/);

Domain for a finite set of scalar values. Options are:

-values

Ref to an array of values admitted in the domain. This would be called as Enum(-values => [qw/foo bar buz/]), but since this it is the default option, it can be simply written as Enum(qw/foo bar buz/).

Undefined values are not allowed in the list (use the -optional argument instead).

List

  my $domain = List(String, Int, String, Num);

  my $domain = List(-items => [String, Int, String, Num]); # same as above

  my $domain = List(-all  => String(qr/^[A-Z]+$/),
                    -any  => String(-min_length => 3),
                    -size => [3, 10]);

  my $domain = List(-all => [String, Int, Whatever(-can => 'print')]);

Domain for lists of values (stored as Perl arrayrefs). Options are:

-items

Ref to an array of domains; then the first n items in the data must match those domains, in the same order.

This is the default option, so item domains may be passed directly to the new method, without the -items keyword.

-min_size

The data must be a ref to an array with at least that number of entries.

-max_size

The data must be a ref to an array with at most that number of entries.

-size

-size => [$min, $max] is equivalent to -min_size => $min, -max_size => $max.

-all

All remaining entries in the array, after the first n entries as specified by the -items option (if any), must satisfy the -all specification. That specification can be

  • a single domain : in that case, all remaining items in the data must belong to that domain

  • an arrayref of domains : in that case, remaining items in the data are grouped into tuples, and each tuple must satisfy the specification. So the last example above says that the list must contain triples where the first item is a string, the second item is an integer and the third item is an object with a print method.

-any

At least one remaining entry in the array, after the first n entries as specified by the -items option (if any), must satisfy that domain specification. A list domain can have both an -all and an -any constraint.

The argument to -any can also be an arrayref of domains, as in

   List(-any => [String(qr/^foo/), Num(-range => [1, 10]) ])

This means that one member of the list must be a string starting with foo, and one member of the list must be a number between 1 and 10. Note that this is different from

   List(-any => One_of(String(qr/^foo/), Num(-range => [1, 10]))

which says that one member of the list must be either a string starting with foo or a number between 1 and 10.

Struct

  my $domain = Struct(foo => Int, bar => String);
  my $domain = Struct(-fields => {foo => Int, bar => String}); # same as above
  
  my $domain = Struct(-fields  => [foo => Int, bar => String],
                      -exclude => '*'); # only 'foo' and 'bar', nothing else
  
  my $domain = Struct(-keys   => List(-all => String(qr/^[abc])),
                      -values => List(-all => Int));

Domain for associative structures (stored as Perl hashrefs). Options are:

-fields

Supplies a list of keys with their associated domains. The list might be given either as a hashref or as an arrayref. Specifying it as an arrayref is useful for controlling the order in which field checks will be performed; this may make a difference when there are context dependencies (see "LAZY CONSTRUCTORS" below ).

-exclude

Specifies which keys are not allowed in the structure. The exclusion may be specified as an arrayref of key names, as a compiled regular expression, or as the string constant '*' or 'all' (meaning that no key will be allowed except those explicitly listed in the -fields option.

-keys

Specifies a List domain, for inspecting the list of keys in the hash.

-values

Specifies a List domain, for inspecting the list of values in the hash.

One_of

  my $domain = One_of($domain1, $domain2, ...);

Union of domains : successively checks the member domains, until one of them succeeds. Options are:

-options

List of domains to be checked. This is the default option, so the keyword may be omitted.

All_of

  my $domain = All_of($domain1, $domain2, ...);

Intersection of domains : checks all member domains, and requires that all of them succeed. Options are:

-options

List of domains to be checked. This is the default option, so the keyword may be omitted.

BUILTIN SHORTCUTS

Below are the precise definition for the shortcut functions exported in the :shortcuts group. Each of these functions sets some initial options, but also accepts further options as arguments, so for example it is possible to write something like Obj(-does => 'Storable', -optional => 1), which is equivalent to Whatever(-blessed => 1, -does => 'Storable', -optional => 1).

True

Whatever(-true => 1)

False

Whatever(-true => 0)

Defined

Whatever(-defined => 1)

Undef

Whatever(-defined => 0)

Blessed

Whatever(-blessed => 1)

Unblessed

Whatever(-blessed => 0)

Regexp

Whatever(-does => 'Regexp')

Obj

Whatever(-blessed => 1) (synonym to Blessed)

Class

Whatever(-blessed => 0, -isa => 'UNIVERSAL')

LAZY CONSTRUCTORS (CONTEXT DEPENDENCIES)

Principle

If an element of a structured domain (List or Struct) depends on another element, then we need to lazily construct that subdomain. Consider for example a struct in which the value of field date_end must be greater than date_begin : the subdomain for date_end can only be constructed when the argument to -min is known, namely when the domain inspects an actual data structure.

Lazy domain construction is achieved by supplying a subroutine reference instead of a domain object. That subroutine will be called with some context information, and should return the domain object. So our example becomes :

  my $domain = Struct(
       date_begin => Date,
       date_end   => sub {my $context = shift;
                          Date(-min => $context->{flat}{date_begin})}
     );

Structure of context

The supplied context is a hashref containing the following information:

root

the overall root of the inspected data

path

the sequence of keys or array indices that led to the current data node. With that information, the subdomain is able to jump to other ancestor or sibling data nodes within the tree (see also the "node_from_path" helper function).

flat

a flat hash containing an entry for any hash key met so far while traversing the tree. In case of name clashes, most recent keys (down in the tree) override previous keys.

list

a reference to the last list (arrayref) encountered while traversing the tree.

To illustrate this, the following code :

  my $domain = Struct(
     foo => List(Whatever, 
                 Whatever, 
                 Struct(bar => sub {my $context = shift;
                                    print Dumper($context);
                                    String;})
                )
     );
  my $data = {foo => [undef, 99, {bar => "hello, world"}]};
  $domain->inspect($data);

will print :

  $VAR1 = {
    'root' => {'foo' => [undef, 99, {'bar' => 'hello, world'}]},
    'path' => ['foo', 2, 'bar'],
    'list' => $VAR1->{'root'}{'foo'},
    'flat' => {
      'bar' => 'hello, world',
      'foo' => $VAR1->{'root'}{'foo'}
    }
  };

Examples of lazy domains

Contextual sets

The domain below accepts hashrefs with a country and a city, but also checks that the city actually belongs to the given country :

  %SOME_CITIES = {
     Switzerland => [qw/Genève Lausanne Bern Zurich Bellinzona/],
     France      => [qw/Paris Lyon Marseille Lille Strasbourg/],
     Italy       => [qw/Milano Genova Livorno Roma Venezia/],
  };
  my $domain = Struct(
     country => Enum(keys %SOME_CITIES),
     city    => sub {
        my $context = shift;
        Enum(-values => $SOME_CITIES{$context->{flat}{country}});
      });

Ordered lists

A domain for ordered lists of integers:

  my $domain = List(-all => sub {
      my $context = shift;
      my $index = $context->{path}[-1];
      return $index == 0 ? Int
                         : Int(-min => $context->{list}[$index-1]);
    });

The subdomain for the first item in the list has no specific constraint; but the next subdomains have a minimal bound that comes from the previous list item.

Recursive domain

A domain for expression trees, where leaves are numbers, and intermediate nodes are binary operators on subtrees :

  my $expr_domain;
  $expr_domain = One_of(Num, Struct(operator => String(qr(^[-+*/]$)),
                                    left     => sub {$expr_domain},
                                    right    => sub {$expr_domain}));

Observe that recursive calls to the domain are encapsulated within sub {...} so that they are treated as lazy domains.

WRITING NEW DOMAIN CONSTRUCTORS

Implementing new domain constructors is fairly simple : create a subclass of Data::Domain and implement a new method and an _inspect method. See the source code of Data::Domain::Num or Data::Domain::String for short examples.

However, before writing such a class, consider whether the existing mechanisms are not enough for your needs. For example, many domains could be expressed as a String constrained by a regular expression; therefore it is just a matter of writing a subroutine that wraps a call to the domain constructor, while supplying some of its arguments :

  sub Phone   { String(-regex    => qr/^\+?[0-9() ]+$/, 
                       -messages => "Invalid phone number", @_) }
  sub Email   { String(-regex    => qr/^[-.\w]+\@[\w.]+$/,
                       -messages => "Invalid email", @_) }
  sub Contact { Struct(-fields => [name   => String,
                                   phone  => Phone,
                                   mobile => Phone(-optional => 1),
                                   emails => List(-all => Email)   ], @_) }

Observe that these examples always pass @_ to the domain call : this is so that the client can still add its own arguments to the call, like

  $domain = Phone(-name     => 'private phone',
                  -optional => 1,
                  -not_in   => [ 1234567, 9999999 ]);

CONSTANT SUBDOMAINS

For convenience, elements of List() or Struct() may be plain scalar constants, and are automatically translated into constant domains :

  $domain = Struct(foo => 123,
                   bar => List(Int, 'buz', Int));

This is exactly equivalent to

  $domain = Struct(foo => Int(-min => 123, -max => 123),
                   bar => List(Int, String(-min => 'buz', -max => 'buz'), Int));

CUSTOMIZING ERROR MESSAGES

Messages returned by validation rules have default values, but can be customized in several ways.

General structure of error messages

Each error message has an internal string identifier, like TOO_SHORT, NOT_A_HASH, etc. The section "Message identifiers" below tells which message identifiers may be generated by each domain constructor.

Message identifiers are then associated with user-friendly strings, either within the domain itself, or via a global table. Such strings are actually sprintf format strings, with placeholders for printing some specific details about the validation rule : for example the String domain defines default messages such as

      TOO_SHORT    => "less than %d characters",
      SHOULD_MATCH => "should match '%s'",

The -messages option to domain constructors

Any domain constructor may receive a -messages option to locally override the messages for that domain. The argument may be

  • a plain string : that string will be returned for any kind of validation error within the domain

  • a hashref : keys of the hash should be message identifiers, and values should be the associated error strings.

  • a coderef : the referenced subroutine is called, and should return the error string. The called subroutine receives the message identifier as argument.

Here is an example :

  sub Phone { 
    String(-regex      => qr/^\+?[0-9() ]+$/, 
           -min_length => 7,
           -messages   => {
             TOO_SHORT    => "phone number should have at least %d digits",
             SHOULD_MATCH => "invalid chars in phone number",
            }, @_);
  }

The messages class method

Default strings associated with message identifiers are stored in a global table. The Data::Domain distribution contains builtin tables for english (the default) and for french : these can be chosen through the messages class method :

  Data::Domain->messages('english');  # the default
  Data::Domain->messages('français');

The same method can also receive a custom table.

  my $custom_table = {...};
  Data::Domain->messages($custom_table);

This should be a two-level hashref : first-level entries in the hash correspond to Data::Domain subclasses (i.e Num => {...}, String => {...}), or to the constant Generic; for each of those, the second-level entries should correspond to message identifiers as specified in the doc for each subclass (for example TOO_SHORT, NOT_A_HASH, etc.). Values should be strings suitable to be fed to sprintf. Look at $builtin_msgs in the source code to see an example.

Finally, it is also possible to write your own message generation handler :

  Data::Domain->messages(sub {my ($msg_id, @args) = @_;
                              return "you just got it wrong ($msg_id)"});

What is received in @args depends on which validation rule is involved; it can be for example the minimal or maximal bounds, or the regular expression being checked.

The -name option to domain constructors

The name of the domain is prepended in front of error messages. The default name is the subclass of Data::Domain, so a typical error message for a string would be

  String: less than 7 characters

However, if a -name is supplied to the domain constructor, that name will be printed instead;

  my $dom = String(-min_length => 7, -name => 'Phone');
  # now error would be: "Phone: less than 7 characters"

Message identifiers

This section lists all possible message identifiers generated by the builtin constructors.

Whatever

MATCH_DEFINED, MATCH_TRUE, MATCH_ISA, MATCH_CAN, MATCH_DOES, MATCH_BLESSED, MATCH_SMART.

Num

INVALID, TOO_SMALL, TOO_BIG, EXCLUSION_SET.

Date

INVALID, TOO_SMALL, TOO_BIG, EXCLUSION_SET.

Time

INVALID, TOO_SMALL, TOO_BIG.

String

TOO_SHORT, TOO_LONG, TOO_SMALL, TOO_BIG, EXCLUSION_SET, SHOULD_MATCH, SHOULD_NOT_MATCH.

Enum

NOT_IN_LIST.

List

The domain will first check if the supplied array is of appropriate shape; in case of of failure, it will return one of the following scalar messages : NOT_A_LIST, TOO_SHORT, TOO_LONG.

Then it will check all items in the supplied array according to the -items and -all specifications; in case of failure, an arrayref of messages is returned, where message positions correspond to the positions of offending data items.

Finally, the domain will check the -any constraint; in case of failure, it returns an ANY scalar message. Since that message contains the name of the missing domain, it is a good idea to use the -name option so that the message is easily comprehensible, as for example in

  List(-any => String(-name => "uppercase word", 
                      -regex => qr/^[A-Z]$/))

Here the error message would be : should have at least one uppercase word.

Struct

The domain will first check if the supplied hash is of appropriate shape; in case of of failure, it will return one of the following scalar messages : NOT_A_HASH, FORBIDDEN_FIELD.

Then it will check all entries in the supplied hash according to the -fields specification, and return a hashref of messages, where keys correspond to the keys of offending data items.

One_of

If all member domains failed to accept the data, an arrayref or error messages is returned, where the order of messages corresponds to the order of the checked domains.

All_of

If any member domain failed to accept the data, an arrayref or error messages from all failing subdomains is returned, where the order of messages corresponds to the order of the checked domains.

INTERNALS

Variables

MAX_DEEP

In order to avoid infinite loops, the "inspect" method will raise an exception if $MAX_DEEP recursive calls were exceeded. The default limit is 100, but it can be changed like this :

  local $Data::Domain::MAX_DEEP = 999;

Methods

node_from_path

  my $node = node_from_path($root, @path);

Convenience function to find a given node in a data tree, starting from the root and following a path (a sequence of hash keys or array indices). Returns undef if no such path exists in the tree. Mainly useful for contextual constraints in lazy constructors.

msg

Internal utility method for generating an error message.

subclass

Method that returns the short name of the subclass of Data::Domain (i.e. returns 'Int' for Data::Domain::Int).

_expand_range

Internal utility method for converting a "range" parameter into "min" and "max" parameters.

_build_subdomain

Internal utility method for dynamically converting lazy domains (coderefs) into domains.

SEE ALSO

Doc and tutorials on complex Perl data structures: perlref, perldsc, perllol.

Other CPAN modules doing data validation : Data::FormValidator, CGI::FormBuilder, HTML::Widget::Constraint, Jifty::DBI, Data::Constraint, Declare::Constraints::Simple, Moose::Manual::Types, Smart::Match, Test::Deep, Params::Validate, Validation::Class.

Among those, Declare::Constraints::Simple is the closest to Data::Domain, because it is also designed to deal with substructures; yet it has a different approach to combinations of constraints and scope dependencies.

Some inspiration for Data::Domain came from the wonderful Parse::RecDescent module, especially the idea of passing a context where individual rules can grab information about neighbour nodes. Ideas for some features were borrowed from Test::Deep and from Moose::Manual::Types.

AUTHOR

Laurent Dami, <dami at cpan.org>

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2012 by Laurent Dami.

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.




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