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abstract class Athena::Validator::Constraint
inherits Reference #

Athena::Validator validates values/objects against a set of constraints, i.e. rules. Each constraint makes an assertive statement that some condition is true. Given a value, a constraint will tell you if that value adheres to the rules of the constraint. An example of this could be asserting a value is not blank, or greater than or equal to another value.

It's important to note a constraint does not implement the validation logic itself. Instead, this is handled via an AVD::ConstraintValidator as defined via #validated_by. Having this abstraction allows for better reusability and testability.

Athena::Validator comes with a set of common constraints built in. See the individual types within AVD::Constraints for more information.


A constraint can be instantiated and passed to a validator directly:

# An array of constraints can also be passed.
AVD.validator.validate "",

Constraint annotation(s) can also be applied to instance variables to assert the value of that property adheres to the constraint.

class Example
  include AVD::Validatable

  def initialize(@name : String); end

  # More than one constraint can be applied to a property.
  property name : String

# Constraints are extracted from the annotations.
# An array can also be passed to validate against that list instead.

Constraints can also be added manually via code by defining an self.load_metadata(metadata : AVD::Metadata::ClassMetadata) : Nil method and adding the constraints directly to the AVD::Metadata::ClassMetadata instance.

# This class method is invoked when building the metadata associated with a type,
# and can be used to manually wire up the constraints.
def self.load_metadata(metadata : AVD::Metadata::ClassMetadata) : Nil
  metadata.add_property_constraint "name",

The metadata for each type is lazily loaded when an instance of that type is validated, and is only built once.


While most constraints can be instantiated with an argless constructor,they do have a set of optional arguments. * The message argument represents the message that should be used if the value is found to not be valid. The message can also include placeholders, in the form of {{ key }}, that will be replaced when the message is rendered. Most commonly this includes the invalid value itself, but some constraints have additional placeholders. * The payload argument can be used to attach any domain specific data to the constraint; such as attaching a severity with each constraint to have more serious violations be handled differently. See the Payload section. * The groups argument can be used to run a subset of the defined constraints. More on this in the Validation Groups section.

For example:

validator = AVD.validator

# Instantiate a constraint with a custom message, using a placeholder.
violations = validator.validate -4, message: "{{ value }} is not a valid age.  A user cannot have a negative age."

puts violations # =>
# -4:
#   -4 is not a valid age.  A user cannot have a negative age. (code: e09e52d0-b549-4ba1-8b4e-420aad76f0de)
Customizing the message can be a good way for those consuming the errors to determine WHY a given value is not valid.

Default Argument#

The first argument of the constructor is known as the default argument. This argument is special when using the annotation based approach in that it can be supplied as a positional argument within the annotation.

For example the default argument for AVD::Constraints::GreaterThan is the value that the value being validated should be compared against.


property age : Int32

Is equivalent to:

@[Assert::GreaterThan(value: 0)]
property age : Int32

NOTE: Only the first argument can be supplied positionally, all other arguments must be provided as named arguments within the annotation.

Message Plurality#

Athena::Validator has very basic support for pluralizing constraint #messages via AVD::Violation::ConstraintViolationInterface#plural.

For example the #message could have different versions based on the plurality of the violation. Currently this only supports two contexts: singular (1/nil) and plural (2+).

Multiple messages, separated by a |, can be included as part of an AVD::Constraint message. For example from AVD::Constraints::Size:

min_message : String = "This value is too short. It should have {{ limit }} {{ type }} or more.|This value is too short. It should have {{ limit }} {{ type }}s or more."

If violations' #plural method returns 1 (or nil) the first message will be used. If #plural is 2 or more, the latter message will be used.

TODO: Support more robust translations; like language or multiple pluralities.


The payload argument defined on every AVD::Constraint type can be used to store custom domain specific information with a constraint. This data can later be retrieved off of an AVD::Violation::ConstraintViolationInterface. An example use case for this could be mapping a "severity" to a CSS class based on how important each specific constraint is.

class User
  include AVD::Validatable

  def initialize(@email : String, @password : String); end

  @[Assert::NotBlank(payload: {"severity" => "error"})]
  getter email : String

  @[Assert::NotBlank(payload: {"severity" => "warning"})]
  getter password : String

violations = AVD.validator.validate "", ""

# Use this when rendering HTML, or JSON to allow dynamically customizing the response object.
violations[0].constraint.payload # => {"severity" => "error"}
violations[1].constraint.payload # => {"severity" => "warning"}

Validation Groups#

The groups argument defined on every AVD::Constraint type can be used to run a subset of validations.

For example, say we only want to validate certain properties when the user is first created:

class User
  include AVD::Validatable

  def initialize(@email : String, @password : String, @city : String); end

  @[Assert::Email(groups: "create")]
  getter email : String

  @[Assert::NotBlank(groups: "create")]
  @[Assert::Size(7.., groups: "create")]
  getter password : String

  getter city : String

user = "", "monkey123", ""

# Validate the user object, but only for those in the "create" group,
# if no groups are supplied, then all constraints in the "default" group will be used.
violations = AVD.validator.validate user, groups: "create"

# There are no violations since the city's size is not validated since it's not in the "create" group.
violations.empty? # => true

Using this configuration, there are three groups at play within the User class: 1. default - Contains constraints in the current type, and subtypes, that belong to no other group. I.e. city. 1. User - In this example, equivalent to all constraints in the default group. See AVD::Constraints::GroupSequence, and the note below. 1. create - A custom group that only contains the constraints explicitly associated with it. I.e. email, and password.

NOTE: When validating just the User object, the default group is equivalent to the User group. However, if the User object has other embedded types using the AVD::Constraints::Valid constraint, then validating the User object with the User group would only validate constraints that are explicitly in the User group within the embedded types.

By default, all constraints are validated in a single "batch". I.e. all constraints within the provided group(s) are validated, without regard to if the previous/next constraint is/was (in)valid. However, an AVD::Constraints::GroupSequence can be used to validate batches of constraints in steps. I.e. validate the first "batch" of constraints, and only advance to the next batch if all constraints in that step are valid.

NOTE: The payload is not used with the framework itself.

Custom Constraints#

If the built in AVD::Constraints are not sufficient to handle validating a given value/object; custom ones can be defined. Let's make a new constraint that asserts a string contains only alphanumeric characters.

This is accomplished by first defining a new class within the AVD::Constraints namespace that inherits from AVD::Constraint. Then define a Validator struct within our constraint that inherits from AVD::ConstraintValidator that actually implements the validation logic.

class AVD::Constraints::AlphaNumeric < AVD::Constraint
  # (Optional) A unique error code can also be defined to provide a machine readable identifier for a specific error.
  NOT_ALPHANUMERIC_ERROR = "1a83a8bd-ff79-4d5c-96e7-86d0b25b8a09"

  # (Optional) Allows using the `.error_message(code : String) : String` method with this constraint.
  @@error_names = {

  # Define an initializer with our default message, and any additional arguments specific to this constraint.
  def initialize(
    message : String = "This value should contain only alphanumeric characters.",
    groups : Array(String) | String | Nil = nil,
    payload : Hash(String, String)? = nil
    super message, groups, payload

  # Define the validator within our constraint that'll contain our validation logic.
  struct Validator < AVD::ConstraintValidator
    # Define our validate method that accepts the value to be validated, and the constraint.
    # Overloads can be used to filter values of specific types.
    def validate(value : _, constraint : AVD::Constraints::AlphaNumeric) : Nil
      # Custom constraints should ignore nil and empty values to allow
      # other constraints (NotBlank, NotNil, etc.) take care of that
      return if value.nil? || value == ""

      # We'll cast the value to a string,
      # alternatively we could just ignore non `String?` values.
      value = value.to_s

      # If all the characters of this string are alphanumeric, then it is valid
      return if value.each_char.all? &.alphanumeric?

      # Otherwise, it is invalid and we need to add a violation,
      # see `AVD::ExecutionContextInterface` for additional information.
      self.context.add_violation constraint.message, NOT_ALPHANUMERIC_ERROR, value

puts AVD.validator.validate "$", # =>
# $:
#   This value should contain only alphanumeric characters. (code: 1a83a8bd-ff79-4d5c-96e7-86d0b25b8a09)

NOTE: The constraint MUST be defined within the AVD::Constraints namespace for implementation reasons. This may change in the future.

We are now able to use this constraint as we would one of the built in ones; either by manually instantiating it, or applying an @[Assert::AlphaNumeric] annotation to a property.

See AVD::ConstraintValidatorInterface for more information on custom validators.

NOTE: The AVD::Constraints::Compound constraint can be used to create a constraint that consists of one or more other constraints.

Direct known subclasses

Athena::Validator::Constraints::Blank Athena::Validator::Constraints::Callback Athena::Validator::Constraints::Choice Athena::Validator::Constraints::Composite Athena::Validator::Constraints::Email Athena::Validator::Constraints::EqualTo(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::GreaterThan(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::GreaterThanOrEqual(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::IP Athena::Validator::Constraints::ISBN Athena::Validator::Constraints::IsFalse Athena::Validator::Constraints::ISIN Athena::Validator::Constraints::IsNil Athena::Validator::Constraints::ISSN Athena::Validator::Constraints::IsTrue Athena::Validator::Constraints::LessThan(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::LessThanOrEqual(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::Luhn Athena::Validator::Constraints::NotBlank Athena::Validator::Constraints::NotEqualTo(ValueType) Athena::Validator::Constraints::NotNil Athena::Validator::Constraints::Range Athena::Validator::Constraints::Regex Athena::Validator::Constraints::Size Athena::Validator::Constraints::Unique Athena::Validator::Constraints::URL Athena::Validator::Constraints::Valid Athena::Validator::Spec::FailingConstraint


DEFAULT_GROUP = "default" #

The group that self is a part of if no other group(s) are explicitly defined.

Class methods#

.error_name(error_code : String) : String #

Returns the name of the provided error_code.

View source

.new(message : String, groups : Array(String) | String | Nil = nil, payload : Hash(String, String)? = nil) #

View source


#add_implicit_group(group : String) : Nil #

Adds the provided group to #groups if self is in the AVD::Constraint::DEFAULT_GROUP.

View source

#groups : Array(String) #

The validation groups self is a part of.

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#groups=(groups : Array(String)) #

The validation groups self is a part of.

View source

#message : String #

Returns the message that should be rendered if self is found to be invalid.

NOTE: Some subtypes do not use this and instead define multiple message properties in order to support more specific error messages.

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#payload : Hash(String, String)? #

Returns any domain specific data associated with self.

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abstract #validated_by : AVD::ConstraintValidator.class #

Returns the AVD::ConstraintValidator.class that should handle validating self.

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