Validation in Spring Boot

Data validation is a critical component of any application development. It ensures that only high-quality data that adheres to predefined standards gets processed. Spring Boot, a renowned framework in the Java ecosystem, offers robust and straightforward validation methods that developers can leverage. This article provides a comprehensive look at how validation is conducted in Spring Boot applications, enabling you to implement these essential techniques effectively.

Importance of Data Validation in Spring Boot

In Spring Boot, as with any application, data validation is paramount. It involves ensuring that the data received aligns with certain criteria before it's processed. Examples of validation checks include verifying that a field is not left empty, an email is in the correct format, or a number falls within a specific range.

Spring Boot simplifies the process of handling data validation by leveraging annotations provided by the Java Bean Validation specification, also known as JSR 380, and its reference implementation, Hibernate Validator.

Setting up Validation in Spring Boot

To kickstart the process, Spring Boot’s starter dependencies make it easier to incorporate the Bean Validation API and its Hibernate Validator implementation into your project. By adding the spring-boot-starter-web dependency to your build configuration file, Hibernate Validator is implicitly included


With this in place, we can start implementing data validation in a Spring Boot application.

Implementing Bean Validation API

The Bean Validation API offers an array of annotations for object property validation. These annotations can be applied to your Java Bean fields or getters. Here's an illustrative example −

public class User {
   @Size(min = 2, max = 30)
   private String name;
   private String email;
   // getters and setters

In this User class, we use the @NotNull, @Size, and @Email annotations to define validation rules for the name and email fields.

Applying Validations in a Controller

To activate these validations, the object parameter in your controller method should be annotated with @Valid. If the object is invalid, an exception is raised. Here's how it works:

public ResponseEntity<String> addUser(@Valid @RequestBody User user) {
   // method logic

In this scenario, the @Valid annotation triggers the User object validation. If any validation rules are breached, a MethodArgumentNotValidException is raised.

Tailoring Error Messages

Custom error messages can be added directly to the Bean Validation annotations for a more personalized experience −

public class User {
   @NotNull(message = "Name cannot be null")
   @Size(min = 2, max = 30, message = "Name must be between 2 and 30 characters")
   private String name;
   @NotNull(message = "Email cannot be null")
   @Email(message = "Email should be valid")
   private String email;
   // getters and setters

Handling Validation Exceptions

Spring Boot also offers a way to handle exceptions at a global level through the @ControllerAdvice annotation. You can create a class to handle MethodArgumentNotValidException and return a customized response:

public class GlobalExceptionHandler {
   public ResponseEntity<List<String>handleValidationExceptions(MethodArgumentNotValidException ex) {
   List<String> errors = ex.getBindingResult()
   return new ResponseEntity<>(errors, HttpStatus.BAD_REQUEST);

In this GlobalExceptionHandler class, the handleValidationExceptions method is annotated with @ExceptionHandler to specify that it should be invoked when a MethodArgumentNotValidException is thrown. This method fetches all the errors from the exception and collects them into a list, which is then returned in the response entity with a BAD_REQUEST status.

Advanced Validation: Creating Custom Annotations

Spring Boot also provides the flexibility to create custom validation annotations. This feature allows developers to write their own specific rules that are not covered by the standard Bean Validation constraints

For example, if you want to validate that a string doesn't contain any numeric characters, you could create a NoNumbers constraint annotation and an associated validator class.

@Target({ ElementType.FIELD, ElementType.METHOD })
@Constraint(validatedBy = NoNumbersValidator.class)
public @interface NoNumbers {
   String message() default "Field should not contain numeric characters";
   Class<>[] groups() default { };
   Class< extends Payload>[] payload() default { };

And then implement the ConstraintValidator interface in your validator class −

public class NoNumbersValidator implements ConstraintValidator {
   public boolean isValid(String value, ConstraintValidatorContext context) {
      return value != null && !value.matches(".*\d.*");


Data validation in Spring Boot provides an essential mechanism to ensure the reliability and quality of your application's data. Using the Bean Validation API and Hibernate Validator, you can easily implement and customize validation rules. Moreover, by understanding how to handle exceptions and create custom validation rules, you can establish a robust and flexible validation system for your Spring Boot applications

Updated on: 19-Jul-2023


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