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Validating input in Express using express-validator

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Learn how to validate any data coming in as input in your Express endpoints

Say you have a POST endpoint that accepts the name, email and age parameters:

const express = require('express')
const app = express()

app.use(express.json())

app.post('/form', (req, res) => {
  const name  = req.body.name
  const email = req.body.email
  const age   = req.body.age
})

How do you perform server-side validation on those results to make sure:

The best way to handle validation on any kind of input coming from outside in Express is by using the express-validator package:

npm install express-validator

You require the check and validationResult objects from the package:

const { check, validationResult } = require('express-validator');

We pass an array of check() calls as the second argument of the post() call. Every check() call accepts the parameter name as argument. Then we call validationResult() to verify there were no validation errors. If there are any, we tell them to the client:

app.post('/form', [
  check('name').isLength({ min: 3 }),
  check('email').isEmail(),
  check('age').isNumeric()
], (req, res) => {
  const errors = validationResult(req)
  if (!errors.isEmpty()) {
    return res.status(422).json({ errors: errors.array() })
  }

  const name  = req.body.name
  const email = req.body.email
  const age   = req.body.age
})

Notice I used

There are many more of these methods, all coming from validator.js, including:

You can validate the input against a regular expression using matches().

Dates can be checked using

For exact details on how to use those validators, refer to https://github.com/chriso/validator.js#validators.

All those checks can be combined by piping them:

check('name')
  .isAlpha()
  .isLength({ min: 10 })

If there is any error, the server automatically sends a response to communicate the error. For example if the email is not valid, this is what will be returned:

{
  "errors": [{
    "location": "body",
    "msg": "Invalid value",
    "param": "email"
  }]
}

This default error can be overridden for each check you perform, using withMessage():

check('name')
  .isAlpha()
  .withMessage('Must be only alphabetical chars')
  .isLength({ min: 10 })
  .withMessage('Must be at least 10 chars long')

What if you want to write your own special, custom validator? You can use the custom validator.

In the callback function you can reject the validation either by throwing an exception, or by returning a rejected promise:

app.post('/form', [
  check('name').isLength({ min: 3 }),
  check('email').custom(email => {
    if (alreadyHaveEmail(email)) {
      throw new Error('Email already registered')
    }
  }),
  check('age').isNumeric()
], (req, res) => {
  const name  = req.body.name
  const email = req.body.email
  const age   = req.body.age
})

The custom validator:

check('email').custom(email => {
  if (alreadyHaveEmail(email)) {
    throw new Error('Email already registered')
  }
})

can be rewritten as

check('email').custom(email => {
  if (alreadyHaveEmail(email)) {
    return Promise.reject('Email already registered')
  }
})
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