5.2 Validation using Spring's Validator interface

Spring's features a Validator interface that you can use to validate objects. The Validator interface works using an Errors object so that while validating, validators can report validation failures to the Errors object.

Let's consider a small data object:

public class Person {

  private String name;
  private int age;

  // the usual getters and setters...

We're going to provide validation behavior for the Person class by implementing the following two methods of the org.springframework.validation.Validator interface:

Implementing a Validator is fairly straightforward, especially when you know of the ValidationUtils helper class that the Spring Framework also provides.

public class PersonValidator implements Validator {
    * This Validator validates just Person instances
    public boolean supports(Class clazz) {
        return Person.class.equals(clazz);
    public void validate(Object obj, Errors e) {
        ValidationUtils.rejectIfEmpty(e, "name", "name.empty");
        Person p = (Person) obj;
        if (p.getAge() < 0) {
            e.rejectValue("age", "negativevalue");
        } else if (p.getAge() > 110) {
            e.rejectValue("age", "too.darn.old");

As you can see, the static rejectIfEmpty(..) method on the ValidationUtils class is used to reject the 'name' property if it is null or the empty string. Have a look at the Javadoc for the ValidationUtils class to see what functionality it provides besides the example shown previously.

While it is certainly possible to implement a single Validator class to validate each of the nested objects in a rich object, it may be better to encapsulate the validation logic for each nested class of object in its own Validator implementation. A simple example of a 'rich' object would be a Customer that is composed of two String properties (a first and second name) and a complex Address object. Address objects may be used independently of Customer objects, and so a distinct AddressValidator has been implemented. If you want your CustomerValidator to reuse the logic contained within the AddressValidator class without recourse to copy-n-paste you can dependency-inject or instantiate an AddressValidator within your CustomerValidator, and use it like so:

public class CustomerValidator implements Validator {

   private final Validator addressValidator;

   public CustomerValidator(Validator addressValidator) {
      if (addressValidator == null) {
          throw new IllegalArgumentException("The supplied [Validator] is required and must not be null.");
      if (!addressValidator.supports(Address.class)) {
          throw new IllegalArgumentException(
            "The supplied [Validator] must support the validation of [Address] instances.");
      this.addressValidator = addressValidator;

    * This Validator validates Customer instances, and any subclasses of Customer too
   public boolean supports(Class clazz) {
      return Customer.class.isAssignableFrom(clazz);

   public void validate(Object target, Errors errors) {
      ValidationUtils.rejectIfEmptyOrWhitespace(errors, "firstName", "field.required");
      ValidationUtils.rejectIfEmptyOrWhitespace(errors, "surname", "field.required");
      Customer customer = (Customer) target;
      try {
          ValidationUtils.invokeValidator(this.addressValidator, customer.getAddress(), errors);
      } finally {

Validation errors are reported to the Errors object passed to the validator. In case of Spring Web MVC you can use <spring:bind/> tag to inspect the error messages, but of course you can also inspect the errors object yourself. More information about the methods it offers can be found from the Javadoc.