Form madness

Those who follow my blog may remember an earlier entry on form validation. I looked into some of the possible solutions those who commented provided, but other than Solar_Form, each was either trying to generate HTML, or not generating HTML was considered a plugin type of behaviour (i.e., the HTML generation was the norm, and not generating HTML typically added layers). Discouraged, I continued plugging away on my own solution which was incorporating Solar_Valid for validations, adding some filtering, adding the ability to load definitions from a file, and adding the ability to use callbacks for either filters or validation rules.

I got some code together, tried it out, and felt that either something was missing, or I was doing something a little wrong. I posted the code source, and asked Paul Jones for feedback.

After some initial flurries of emails with Paul asking for more detail, me providing it, Paul asking questions, me attempting to answer... Paul had me look at the source for Solar_Form. In doing so, I discovered what he was suspecting, namely, that we were trying to build something similar. Rather than continue on parallel courses, I decided to jump in and help in this aspect of the Solar project.

And thus was Solar_Filter born, and then Solar_Form_Load_Xml. Solar_Filter is a class of static methods that provide ways to filter data; its primary use would be for pre-filtering form data before validation. In most cases, you may simply register a PHP function that accepts a value as an argument and returns a value; otherwise, all filter methods expect the value to filter as the first argument, and any other arguments follow. Solar_Form_Load_Xml loads a Solar_Form definition from an XML file using PHP5's simplexml functions. It simply takes the XML and creates an array that is compatible with Solar_Form::setElements().

I've also helped with a number of changes to Solar_Form -- you can now pass arrays to validate() instead of using the $_POST and/or $_GET arrays (useful for validating subsets or data coming from XMLHTTP requests), elements can have pre-filters via Solar_Filter, and you can load() form element definitions (currently via Solar_Form_Load_Xml only).

You may view Paul's and my handiwork by checking out Solar via the Solar subversion repository; the affected modules are Solar_Form, Solar_Filter, and Solar_Form_Load_Xml.

Documentation will be forthcoming once we iron out some bugs and get some good unit tests going. In the meantime, the API documentation is fairly coherent and informative. Questions may be directed to the Solar mailing list .

If you can, start testing so we can incorporate feedback for Paul's next release of Solar!

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