5. Validation, Data-binding, the BeanWrapper, and PropertyEditors

5.1 Introduction

There are pros and cons for considering validation as business logic, and Spring offers a design for validation (and data binding) that does not exclude either one of them. Specifically validation should not be tied to the web tier, should be easy to localize and it should be possible to plug in any validator available. Considering the above, Spring has come up with a Validator interface that is both basic and eminently usable in every layer of an application.

Data binding is useful for allowing user input to be dynamically bound to the domain model of an application (or whatever objects you use to process user input). Spring provides the so-called DataBinder to do exactly that. The Validator and the DataBinder make up the validation package, which is primarily used in but not limited to the MVC framework.

The BeanWrapper is a fundamental concept in the Spring Framework and is used in a lot of places. However, you probably will not have the need to use the BeanWrapper directly. Because this is reference documentation however, we felt that some explanation might be in order. We will explain the BeanWrapper in this chapter since, if you were going to use it at all, you would most likely do so when trying to bind data to objects.

Spring's DataBinder and the lower-level BeanWrapper both use PropertyEditors to parse and format property values. The PropertyEditor concept is part of the JavaBeans specification, and is also explained in this chapter. Spring 3 introduces a "core.convert" package that provides a general type conversion facility, as well as a higher-level "format" package for formatting UI field values. These new packages may be used as simpler alternatives to PropertyEditors, and will also be discussed in this chapter.