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Chapter 11. Hibernate Validator Specifics

11.1. Public API
11.2. Fail fast mode
11.3. Programmatic constraint declaration
11.4. Boolean composition of constraints
11.5. ResourceBundleLocator

In this chapter you will learn how to make use of several features provided by Hibernate Validator in addition to the functionality defined by the Bean Validation specification. This includes the fail fast mode, the API for programmatic constraint configuration and the boolean composition of constraints.


Using the features described in the following sections may result in application code which is not portable between Bean Validation providers.

Let's start, however, with a look at the public API of Hibernate Validator. Table 11.1, “Hibernate Validator public API” lists all packages belonging to this API and describes their purpose. Note that when a package is part of the public this is not necessarily true for its sub-packages.

Table 11.1. Hibernate Validator public API

org.hibernate.validatorClasses used by the Bean Validation bootstrap mechanism (eg. validation provider, configuration class); For more details see Chapter 8, Bootstrapping.
org.hibernate.validator.cfg, org.hibernate.validator.cfg.context, org.hibernate.validator.cfg.defsHibernate Validator's fluent API for constraint declaration; In org.hibernate.validator.cfg you will find the ConstraintMapping interface and in org.hibernate.validator.cfg.defs all constraint definitions. Refer to Section 11.3, “Programmatic constraint declaration” for the details.
org.hibernate.validator.constraints, org.hibernate.validator.constraints.brSome useful custom constraints provided by Hibernate Validator in addition to the built-in constraints defined by the Bean Validation specification; The constraints are described in detail in Section 2.3.2, “Additional constraints”.
org.hibernate.validator.group, org.hibernate.validator.spi.groupThe group sequence provider feature which allows you to define dynamic default group sequences in function of the validated object state; The specifics can be found in Section 5.3, “Redefining the default group sequence”.
org.hibernate.validator.messageinterpolation, org.hibernate.validator.resourceloading, org.hibernate.validator.spi.resourceloadingClasses related to constraint message interpolation; The first package contains Hibernate Validator's default message interpolator, ResourceBundleMessageInterpolator. The latter two packages provide the ResourceBundleLocator SPI for the loading of resource bundles (see Section 4.2.1, “ResourceBundleLocator”) and its default implementation.


The public packages of Hibernate Validator fall into two categories: while the actual API parts are intended to be invoked or used by clients (e.g. the API for programmatic constraint declaration or the custom constraints), the SPI (service provider interface) packages contain interfaces which are intended to be implemented by clients (e.g. ResourceBundleLocator).

Any packages not listed in that table are internal packages of Hibernate Validator and are not intended to be accessed by clients. The contents of these internal packages can change from release to release without notice, thus possibly breaking any client code relying on it.

Using the fail fast mode, Hibernate Validator allows to return from the current validation as soon as the first constraint violation occurs. This can be useful for the validation of large object graphs where you are only interested in a quick check whether there is any constraint violation at all.

Example 11.1, “Using the fail fast validation mode” shows how to bootstrap and use a fail fast enabled validator.

Here the validated object actually fails to satisfy both the constraints declared on the Car class, yet the validation call yields only one ConstraintViolation since the fail fast mode is enabled.

Refer to Section 8.2.6, “Provider-specific settings” to learn about the different ways of enabling the fail fast mode when bootstrapping a validator.

As per the Bean Validation specification, you can declare constraints using Java annotations and XML based constraint mappings.

In addition, Hibernate Validator provides a fluent API which allows for the programmatic configuration of constraints. Use cases include the dynamic addition of constraints at runtime depending on some application state or tests where you need entities with different constraints in different scenarios but don't want to implement actual Java classes for each test case.

By default, constraints added via the fluent API are additive to constraints configured via the standard configuration capabilities. But it is also possible to ignore annotation and XML configured constraints where required.

The API is centered around the ConstraintMapping interface. You obtain a new mapping via HibernateValidatorConfiguration#createConstraintMapping() which you then can configure in a fluent manner as shown in Example 11.2, “Programmatic constraint declaration”.

Constraints can be configured on multiple classes and properties using method chaining. The constraint definition classes NotNullDef and SizeDef are helper classes which allow to configure constraint parameters in a type-safe fashion. Definition classes exist for all built-in constraints in the org.hibernate.validator.cfg.defs package. By calling ignoreAnnotations() any constraints configured via annotations or XML are ignored for the given element.

Having configured the mapping, you must add it back to the configuration object from which you then can obtain a validator factory.

For custom constraints you can either create your own definition classes extending ConstraintDef or you can use GenericConstraintDef as seen in Example 11.3, “Programmatic declaration of a custom constraint”.

By invoking valid() a member is marked for cascasded validation which is equivalent to annotating it with @Valid. An example can be seen in Example 11.4, “Marking a property for cascaded validation”.

Not only bean constraints but also method constraints can be configured using the fluent API. As shown in Example 11.5, “Programmatic declaration of method constraints” methods are identified by their name and parameter types. Having selected a method, you can marke its parameters and/or return value for cascaded validation and add constraints.

Last but not least you can configure the default group sequence or the default group sequence provider of a type as shown in the following example.

Bean Validation specificies that the constraints of a composed constraint (see Section 6.4, “Constraint composition”) are all combined via a logical AND. This means all of the composing constraints need to return true in order for an overall successful validation.

Hibernate Validator offers an extension to this and allows you to compose constraints via a logical OR or NOT. To do so you have to use the ConstraintComposition annotation and the enum CompositionType with its values AND, OR and ALL_FALSE.

Example 11.7, “OR composition of constraints” shows how to build a composed constraint @PatternOrSize where only one of the composing constraints needs to be valid in order to pass the validation. Either the validated string is all lower-cased or it is between two and three characters long.


Using ALL_FALSE as composition type implicitly enforces that only a single violation will get reported in case validation of the constraint composition fails.

As described in Section 4.2, “Custom message interpolation”, Bean Validation allows to plug in custom message interpolator implementations.

With ResourceBundleLocator, Hibernate Validator provides an additional SPI which allows to retrieve error messages from other resource bundles than ValidationMessages while still using the actual interpolation algorithm as defined by the specification. Refer to Section 4.2.1, “ResourceBundleLocator” to learn how to make use of that SPI.