Assert v2.0: Fluent API and Lazy Assertions

Almost two years ago I started developing a small library Assert (blog post) which contained a set of assertion methods to use in production code. With 18.000 installations from Packagist this is my most successful piece of open source software outside of the Doctrine universe. There is a fair number of contributors and I know several companies using the library in production.

The API however didn’t make me too happy, using the static method calls made it impossible to collect multiple errors and also made the code more verbose than necessary when validating the same value with multiple assertions.

Several weeks ago I stumbled across the Java library AssertJ that gave me the idea how to fix these problems. The last two days I had some time to implement those new functionalities and I am releasing a new version 2.0 of Assert today.

Fluent API

Instead of having to use the static assertion methods, there is now a new fluent API, invoked by calling the function Assert\that($value) and then all the assertions you want to call on that value.

Here are some examples:

<?php

\Assert\that(10)->notBlank()->integer()->range(0, 100);
\Assert\that(array('foo', 'bar'))->isArray()->all()->string();
\Assert\that(null)->nullOr()->boolean();

This new API allows for much shorter and compact assertions.

Lazy Assertions

Using Assert with webforms was never possible unless you wanted to show the user only exactly one error message. Because every assertion fails with an Exception, there was no way to execute multiple assertions and collect the errors. This has changed with the new lazy assertion API, that is similar to the Fluent API:

<?php
\Assert\lazy()
    ->that(10, 'foo')->string()
    ->that(null, 'bar')->notEmpty()
    ->that('string', 'baz')->isArray()
    ->verifyNow();

The method that($value, $propertyPath) requires a property path (name), so that you know how to differentiate the errors afterwards.

On failure verifyNow() will throw an exception Assert\\LazyAssertionException (this does not extend AssertionFailedException) with a combined message:

The following 3 assertions failed:
1) foo: Value "10" expected to be string, type integer given.
2) bar: Value "<NULL>" is empty, but non empty value was expected.
3) baz: Value "string" is not an array.

You can also call the method getErrorExceptions() to retrieve all the underyling AssertionFailedException objects and convert them something useable for the frontend.

Error Messages, Values and Constraints

In version 1.0 Assert did not have default error messages when failures occured. This has changed and now every assertion has a default failure message, as well as access to the value and constraints of an exception:

<?php

use Assert\AssertionFailedException;

try {
    \Assert\that(10)->range(100, 1000);
} catch (AssertionFailedException $e) {
    $e->getMessage(); // Value "10" is not between 100 and 1000.
    $e->getValue(); // 10
    $e->getConstraints(); // array('min' => 100, 'max' => 1000)
}

This helps during development when the assertion exceptions occur and also allows to provide error messages to the user, by using the exception code and the value and constraint data for translating into human readable messages.

You can find more information in the README of Assert.

More about: AssertLibrary