openxava / documentation / Lesson 21: Custom Bean Validation annotation

Course: 1. Getting started | 2. Basic domain model (1) | 3. Basic domain model (2) | 4. Refining the user interface | 5. Agile development6. Mapped superclass inheritance | 7. Entity inheritance | 8. View inheritance | 9. Java properties | 10. Calculated properties | 11. @DefaultValueCalculator in collections | 12. @Calculation and collections totals | 13. @DefaultValueCalculator from file | 14. Manual schema evolution | 15. Multi user default value calculation | 16. Synchronize persistent and computed propierties | 17. Logic from database  | 18. Validating with @EntityValidator 19. Validation alternatives  | 20. Validation on remove  | 21: Custom Bean Validation annotation 22. REST service call from validation  | 23. Attributes in annotations  | 24. Refining the standard behavior | 25. Behavior & business logic | 26. References & collections | A. Architecture & philosophy | B. Java Persistence API | C. Annotations | D. Automated testing

Table of contents

Lesson 21: Custom Bean Validation annotation
Creating your own Bean Validation annotation
Using a Bean Validation from your entity
Defining your own ISBN annotation
Using Apache Commons Validator to implement the validation logic
In the last lesson you saw how to validate on remove. In this lesson you are going to see how to create your custom Bean Validation annotation.

If you don't like videos follow the instructions below.

Creating your own Bean Validation annotation

The techniques in the previous section are very useful for many validations. Nevertheless, sometimes you will face some validations that are very generic and you will want to reuse them over and over again. In this case to define your own Bean Validation annotation can be a good option. Defining a Bean Validation is more verbose but usage and reuse is simple; just adding an annotation to your property or class.
We are going to learn how to create a validator from Bean Validation.

Using a Bean Validation from your entity

It is very easy. Just annotate your property, as you see in the next code:
@ISBN // This annotation indicates this property must be validated as an ISBN
String isbn;
By merely adding @ISBN to your property, it will be validated before the entity is saved into the database. Great! The problem is that @ISBN is not included as a built-in constraint in the Bean Validation framework. This is not a big deal. If you want an @ISBN annotation, just create it. Indeed, we are going to create the @ISBN validation annotation in this section.
First of all, let's add a new isbn property to Product. Edit your Product class and add to it the code bellow:
String isbn;
Try out your Product module with the browser. Yes, the isbn property is already there. Now, you can add the validation.

Defining your own ISBN annotation

Let's create the @ISBN annotation. First, create a package in your project called com.yourcompany.invoicing.annotations. Then click with the right mouse button on it and choose New > Annotation, as following:
It will show a dialog, type ISBN for the annotation name and click on Finish:
Edit the code of your recently created ISBN annotation and leave it as in the next code:
package com.yourcompany.invoicing.annotations; // In 'annotations' package

import java.lang.annotation.*;
import javax.validation.*;
@Constraint(validatedBy = com.yourcompany.invoicing.validators.ISBNValidator.class)
@Target({ElementType.FIELD, ElementType.METHOD})
public @interface ISBN { // A regular Java annotation definition
    Class<?>[] groups() default{};
    Class<? extends Payload>[] payload() default{};
    String message() default "isbn_invalid"; // Message id from i18n file
As you can see, this is a regular annotation definition. The message attribute is the message to show to the user if the validation fails, you can write the message "as is" or put an i18n id. The developer can specify its own message when he uses the annotation, although we provide one by default, "isbn_invalid", so we have to add the next entry into
isbn_invalid=ISBN invalid or nonexistent
The @Constraint indicates the class with the validation logic. Let's write the ISBNValidator class.

Using Apache Commons Validator to implement the validation logic

We are going to write the ISBNValidator class with the validation logic for an ISBN. Instead of writing the ISBN validation logic by ourselves we'll use the Commons Validator project from Apache. Commons Validator contains validation algorithms for email addresses, dates, URLs and so on. The commons-validator.jar is included by default in OpenXava projects, so you can use it without further configuration. The code for ISBNValidator:
package com.yourcompany.invoicing.validators; // In 'validators' package

import javax.validation.*;
import com.yourcompany.invoicing.annotations.*;
import org.openxava.util.*;
public class ISBNValidator implements ConstraintValidator<ISBN, Object> { // Must implement ConstraintValidator
    private static org.apache.commons.validator.routines.ISBNValidator
        validator = // From 'Commons Validator' framework
            new org.apache.commons.validator.routines.ISBNValidator();
    public void initialize(ISBN isbn) {
    // Contains the validation logic
    public boolean isValid(Object value, ConstraintValidatorContext context) { 
        if (Is.empty(value)) return true;
        return validator.isValid(value.toString()); // Relies on 'Commons Validator'
As you see, the validator class must implement ConstraintValidator from the javax.validation package. This forces your validator to implement initialize() and isValid(). The isValid() method contains the validation logic. Note that if the value to validate is empty we assume that it is valid. Validating when the value is present is the responsibility of other annotations like @Required.
In this case the validation logic is plain vanilla, because we only call the ISBN validator from the Apache Commons Validator project.
@ISBN is ready to be used. Just annotate your isbn property with it. You can see how:
@Column(length=13) @ISBN
String isbn;
In this case when you save the class the import for @ISBN is not added automatically. This is because there is another @ISBN available (from Hibernate Validator library included in OpenXava), so OpenXava Studio does not know which one to choose. Don't worry, just put your mouse over the @ISBN annotation and a popup will be shown with several possible solutions, choose Import 'ISBN' (com.yourcompany.invoicing.annotations) so the correct import will be added to Product class:
Now, you can test your module, and verify that the ISBN values you enter are validated correctly. Congratulations, you have written your first Bean Validation. It's not so difficult. One annotation, one class.
This @ISBN is good enough for use in real life. Nevertheless, we'll try to improve it, simply to have the chance to experiment with a few interesting possibilities.


Congratulations! You have learned how to create your own Bean Validation annotation. In the next lesson you are going to learn how to call a REST service from a validation. 

Download source code of this lesson

Any problem with this lesson? Ask in the forum Everything fine? Go to lesson 22