contracheck-applicative: Validation types/typeclass based on the contravariance.

[ bsd3, library, validation ] [ Propose Tags ]

This package provides types and a typeclass that allow for effectful validation and easy composition. For documentation see the README. If there are any issues, contact me at or add an issue on gitlab.

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Versions [faq],,, 0.1.2
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Dependencies base (>=4.7 && <5), containers (>=0.4 && <0.7), contravariant (>=1.0.0 && <1.6), mmorph (>=1.0.0 && <1.2) [details]
License BSD-3-Clause
Copyright 2020 Fabian Birkmann
Author Fabian Birkmann
Category Validation
Uploaded by Birkmann at 2020-04-21T18:09:23Z
Distributions NixOS:0.1.2
Downloads 325 total (24 in the last 30 days)
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Maintainer's Corner

For package maintainers and hackage trustees

Readme for contracheck-applicative-0.1.2

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This package provides some simple yet useful types and functions to dynamically check properties of your data.

Table of contents

  1. Why use this library
  2. Quickstart
    1. Types
    2. Composition of Check's
    3. Combination of Check's
    4. Dealing with additional context
    5. Checkable Typeclass

Why use this library? <a name="why"></a>

Runtime-checking for properties of data is the poor man's parsing. Nonetheless, sometimes it has do be done, and most of the time is not really pretty.

Most validation libraries define validations to be a type like a -> Either Text a, which makes sense as it captures the essence of validations: Put something in, and you either get it back and know your data is alright, or you have an error to work with. But the type a -> Either Text a does not behave nicely:

  • On the type level it does not distinguish between unvalidated and validated values.
  • Validations are not combinable: There is no canonical monoid instance
  • Validations are not reusable: It is invariant; so it is neither co- nor contravariant.
  • Validations are not composable: There is no canonical way to combine a pair of validations (a -> Either Text a, b -> Either Text b) to a validation (a, b) -> Either Text (a, b)

This library attempts to fix these issues.

Quickstart <a name="quickstart"></a>

A Check is a function that takes an Unvalidated value and returns the result, possibly with a context: If the input has Passed the check or Failed it with a number of possible errors.

newtype Unvalidated a = Unvalidated { unsafeValidate :: a } 

data CheckResult 
    = Passed
    | Failed (Seq a)
newtype Check  e m a = Check { runCheck :: Unvalidated a -> m (CheckResult e) }
type    Check' e = Check e Identity

Types <a name="types"></a>

Basically all this library does is provide convenient instances for the following types.

Unvalidated <a name="unvalidated"></a>

newtype Unvalidated a = Unvalidated { unsafeValidate :: a } 

The Unvalidated newtype is to make a distinction between validated and unvalidated values on the type level. It is often convient to give an orphan instance for the typeclass of your choice via -XStandaloneDeriving so unvalidated data cannot sneak into your system, e.g.

{-# language StandaloneDeriving, GeneralizedNewtypeDeriving, DerivingStrategies #-}
import Data.Aeson(FromJSON)
deriving newtype instance (FromJSON a) => FromJSON (Unvalidated a)

CheckResult <a name="CheckResult"></a>

data CheckResult 
    = Passed
    | Failed (Seq a)
instance Monoid CheckResult
instance Functor CheckResult

It has a monoid instance that collects all possible errors, that is, it is not lazy in its failure component.

Check <a name="Check"></a>

newtype Check  e m a = Check { runCheck :: Unvalidated a -> m (CheckResult e) }
type    Check' e = Check e Identity

To start off lets give some simple examples. We construct Checks using the auxiliary combinators

  • failsWith :: e -> CheckResult e
  • failsNoMsg :: CheckResult e
  • checking' :: (a -> CheckResult e) -> Check' e a
  • test' :: Applicative m => (a -> Bool) -> (a -> e) -> Check e m a
import Data.Char(isAlpha)

checkEven :: Check' String Int
checkEven = test 
              ((== 0) . (`mod` 2)) 
              (mappend "Number not even: " . show)
type Age = Int
checkAge = test' (< 18) failsNoMsg

type Name = String
checkName = test $ \name -> 
    let invalidChars = filter (not . isAlpha) name
    in if null invalidChars
         then Passed
         else failsWith invalidChars

There are some other combinators to construct checks in various flavours, notably the test/(?>) family. You can run the checks using validateBy' if you want to use the validated result or just by runCheck if you just want to know if your input passed the check (though this is slower than it needs to be as the check collects all possible errors).

Composition of Checks <a name="composition"></a>

The Check type is contravariant in the parameter to be checked (in fact, the whole library is merely a big wrapper around the instances for the type classes from the package contravariant). This tells us that we can "pull back" checks to other types:

checkOdd = contramap (+1) checkEven

So if we have a Check for an a and know how to convert a b into an a that preserves the property to be checked, we get a Check for our b for free. You can also pull back a pair of checks to a product/sum of types ((,)/Either) using divide/choose from the type classes Divisible/Decidable (also defined in the package contravariant). We show how to use them by lifting a Check for an a to a Check for a list of as:

checkListBy :: Check' e a -> Check' e [a]
checkListBy checkA =
  choose split checkNil checkCons
    splitSum [] = Left ()
    splitSum (x:xs) = Right (x, xs)
    checkNil = mempty
    checkCons = divide id checkA (checkListBy checkA)

To check a list [a] we have to distinguish two cases (split); either it is empty (Left ()), then we apply the trivial check checkNil or it is a cons, then we apply the check to the head and check the rest of the list.

To summarize, we can use (with Types specialized to Check):

  • contramap (≡ >$<): (b -> a) -> Check e m a -> Check e m b
  • divide :: (a -> (b, c)) -> Check e m b -> Check e m c -> Check e m a
  • choose :: (a -> Either b c) -> Check e m b -> Check e m c -> Check e m a

Combination of Check's <a name="combination"></a>

But now you want to combine your checks, e.g. to check a registration form. A first attempt might be to use the monoid instance of CheckResult. Note that it collects all errors and does not short-circuit if a Check fails (as you do not want to be that guy that sends the registration form back twenty times with different errors). But fortunately the Monoid-instance of CheckResult lifts to Checks! That means we can use the Semigroup/Monoid operations on Checks, (mempty being the trivial Check that always succeeds).

data Registration = Registration 
    { registrationAge :: Age
    , registrationName :: Name
    , registrationEmail :: String 
    =  contramap registrationAge   checkAge 
    <> contramap registrationName  checkName
    <> contramap registrationEmail mempty -- of course unneccessary as it does nothing, but here for completeness

Dealing with additional Context <a name="context"></a>

Sometimes you need to check properties, but the check itself has a sideeffect e.g. making a HTTP request or reading from a database. This is no problem, as

  1. Checks may have a context (remember that Check' e a ≡ Check e Identity a, a Check with a trivial context).
  2. we can easily convert our checks between context as Checks are an instance of MFunctor from the package mmorph.
  3. we are all good as long as the context is an Applicative as then the monoid instance of CheckResult e lifts to m CheckResult e.

Let's give an example. Say you let users store URLs in a database, but for their convience you do not accept broken links.

import Network.HTTP.Client
import Network.HTTP.Types.Status(Status, statusCode)
import Network.HTTP.Client.TLS(newTlsManager)
import Control.Concurrent.Async(concurrently)
import Control.Validation.Check
import Control.Monad.Morph(MFunctor(..), generalize)

newtype Url = Url { getUrl ∷  String  }
        deriving (Show, Eq, IsString)

checkUrlNo4xx ∷ Check Status IO Url                 
checkUrlNo4xx = checking $ \url →  do
  m ← newTlsManager
  req ← parseRequest . getUrl $ url
  res ← httpLbs req m
  let stat =  (responseStatus res) ∷Status
      code = statusCode stat
  pure $ if code < 400 || code >= 500
     then  Passed
     else  failsWith stat

But now you allow your users to store several links, Facbook, LinkedIn, Twitter and whatnot. With foldWithCheck/traverseWithCheck you can lift checks to arbitary instances of Foldable or Traversable: foldWithCheck :: (Foldable f, Applicative m) => Check e m a -> Check e m (f a) traverseWithCheck :: (Traversable t, Applicative m) => Check e m a -> Check e m (t a)

type UrlList =  [ Url ] 
checkUrlList :: Check Status IO [Url]
checkUrlList = traverseWithCheck checkUrlNo4xx 

Thats all there is. Since it is that easy to generalize, Checks for foldables/traversable are ommited.

Well, its not really performant, as the Urls are checked in sequence. We can fix that by giving IO a "parallel" Applicative instance that performs all chained (<*>) in concurrently:

newtype ParIO a = ParIO { runParIO :: IO a } deriving Functor

instance Applicative ParIO where
    pure = ParIO . pure
    ParIO iof <*> ParIO iox = ParIO $ (\(f, x) -> f x) <$> concurrently iof iox

As we do not want to change the implementation of checkUrlNo4xx as it is fine on its own, but we can use hoist to lift the check to a context that is executed concurrently:

-- hoist :: Monad m => (forall a. m a -> n a) -> Check e m a -> Check e n a
-- ParIO :: forall a. IO a -> ParIO a
checkUrlListPar :: Check Status ParIO [Url]
checkUrlListPar = traverseWithCheck (hoist ParIO checkUrlNo4xx)


checkUrlListParWrong = hoist ParIO checkUrlList

does NOT work as here you lift into the parallel context after all the checks have been performed.

Thats about it.

Checkable typeclass <a name="typeclass"></a>

There is also a typeclass in the module Control.Validation.Class, but it has to be used with care as it does not perform any Checks on primitive types and this is often not what you want. You should probably use it only on nested structures made up solely from custom data types, and otherwise define the checks explicitly.