A high performance form library built specifically for React.
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Serial Forms

Deprecation Warning: No longer maintaining

We will no longer be maintaining this module in favor of something more one-directional like redux-form. If you have any input or ideas, please reply here. Sorry, and thank you!

This library is a light abstraction over React forms (85k minified) that allows for customizable layouts for various types of data schemas. Serial Forms decouples the input itself from the data it generates by creating a serialized object that represents the input's value which may or may not be on the input itself. This separation of concerns makes it easy to work with third party components like Bootstrap and React Widgets or your own custom components. For example - you can create a complex component containing multiple <input> elements which produces one result in your serialized object, essentially acting as one field.

Serial Forms aims to accomplish the following goals:


Kitchen Sink

This example demonstrates a very basic form with validation, a repeater field, and an undo button.


npm install react-serial-forms


var SerialForms = require('react-serial-forms');


import SerialForms from 'react-serial-forms';

or better, just get what you need:

import {
} from 'react-serial-forms'


Include one of the files (minified or non-minfied) in the dist/ directory of the npm installed module.

The birds and the bees

There are 3 fundamental aspects to Serial Forms:

  1. Validation. On field change async check value for validity.
  2. Serialization. Serial Forms allows you to be expressive with creating forms by giving you the ability to specify how the data is formatted by the naming conventions of the name attribute.
  3. Freedom. You should not be restricted by using premade columns or rows. Just build the form the way you want with whatever frontend technology you want.

Without extending Serial Forms, the fields are very basic.

  • Input <InputField />
  • Textarea <TextareaField />
  • SelectField <SelectField />

These components except all of the attributes the native (react) components would, with the addition of a validation and messages attribute which allows you to specify how the field should validate.

The only real requirement is that a Input component must be inside a Form component.

States of an input

These will appear as classes on the component.

  • fresh: Newly constructed. Has not yet validated or changed.
  • valid: Passed validation(s).
  • invalid: Did not pass validation(s).


Vaidation is specified on the validation attribute. Currently, the following validators are included:

  • required
  • numeral
  • email

Multiple can be applied at one time by delimiting by a comma. Example:

<InputField validation='required' name='full_name' />
<InputField validation='required,email' name='email' type='email' />
<InputField validation='required,numeral' name='zip' type='number' />
<InputField validation='required,numeral' name='other-number' type='text' />
Custom Validation Messages

Supply an object to the special messages attribute to customize the validation message for any of the validators.

 * Format:
 * <validator name>: <message>
 * @type {object}
let messages = {
  required: 'I am a custom message for the required validator.'

<InputField validation='required' name='full_name' messages={messages} />
Custom Validators

Validators are 100% asynchronous as of v2.0!

// Some file for custom validators used throughout application...
import { validation } from 'react-serial-forms';

  name: 'unique_username',
  determine: function(value, pass, fail) {
    someAsyncRequest(value, (res) = {
      if (res.ok) {
      } else {
  message: 'Username is taken.'

// Implementation.
<InputField type='text' validation='unique_username' name='username' />


Serialization is based on the naming convention. This allows for the ability to easily create complex data structures in components without much post-submit processing. Thus, saving you tons of time.

  • name="my-title" = { "my-title": "<value>" }
  • name="fruits[n]" = { "fruits": ["<value>", "<value>", ...] }
  • name="fruits[0][name]" = { "fruits": [{"name": "<value>"}] }
  • And so on. You can nest arrays and objects infinitely.

You will more than likely want to obtain the serialized object onSubmit.

onSubmit(e) {
  let theform = this.refs.myform; // Grab from the refs.
  theform.validate((errors) {
    // Errors will be either false or an array of errors for the failed fields.
    // Perhaps do something with theform.serialize() here.

Numbers will be real integer and float values when the type='number' is used on the Input field. Otherwise, they will be strings as the type suggests - text.


<InputField type='file' />

Conveniently, the value for a file will be the actual files object. This will only be the case for newly added files of course. Otherwise, it will be whatever the value attribute is set to. Likely, the name of the file on the record.

Empty values

Empty values will always be null.

Select Field

Options should be specified with a collection of objects:

const choices = [
  { text: '- Select Something -', value: null },
  { text: 'Option 1', value: 'option_1' },
  { text: 'Option 2', value: 'option_2' }

<SelectField options={choices} />

If the select field has multiple={true}, then the value will be an array.

Providing defaults

Simply pass the pre-populated value a value attribute.


Extending this library is one of its main features. Please do.

Extend complex third-party components.

Here is an example of the Date Picker being extended. Using the technique of having a "host" hidden input allows us to handle any type of component - whether it returns a SyntheticEvent or not.

An example of creating a custom Form with react-bootstrap.
import React from 'react';
import { FormBase } from 'react-serial-forms';
import { Grid, Row, ButtonInput, Col } from 'react-bootstrap';

export default class BootstrapForm extends FormBase {
  constructor(props) {
  render() {
    return (
      <form onSubmit={this.props.onSubmit} method={this.props.method}>
            <Col xs={12}>
              <ButtonInput type='submit' bsStyle='primary' value={this.props.submitText} />

Let's make a form.

import {
} from 'react-serial-forms'

const options = [
  { text: '- Select Something -', value: null },
  { text: 'Rollerblading', value: 'rollerblading' },
  { text: 'Fishing', value: 'fishing' },
  { text: 'Camping', value: 'camping' },
  { text: 'Reading', value: 'reading' }

const form = (
    <InputField name='title' validation='required' />

    <div className='simpleList-numbered'>
      <InputField value='garlic' name='veges[0]' />
      <InputField value='pepper' name='veges[3]' />
      <InputField value='avocado' name='veges[2]' />
      <InputField value='carrot' name='veges[1]' />

    <div className='person'>
      <InputField value='john' name='people[0][first_name]' validation='required' />
      <InputField value='doe' name='people[0][last_name]' validation='required' />
      <SelectField multiple={true} value={['camping', 'fishing']} name='people[0][hobbies]' options={options} validation='required' />

      <div className='books'>

        <div className='book'>
          <InputField value='devil in the white city' name='people[0][books][0][title]' />
          <InputField type='number' value='2003' name='people[0][books][0][year]' />

        <div className='book'>
          <InputField value='react' name='people[0][books][1][title]' />
          <InputField type='number' value='2011' name='people[0][books][1][year]' />


    <div className='person'>
      <InputField value='crazy' name='people[1][first_name]' validation='required' />
      <InputField value='tom' name='people[1][last_name]' validation='required' />
      <SelectField multiple={true} value={['reading', 'rollerblading']} name='people[1][hobbies]' options={options} validation='required' />

      <div className='books'>

        <div className='book'>
          <InputField value='1984' name='people[1][books][0][title]' />
          <InputField type='number' value='1950' name='people[1][books][0][year]' />

        <div className='book'>
          <InputField value='dune' name='people[1][books][1][title]' />
          <InputField type='number' value='1963' name='people[1][books][1][year]' />

    <InputField name='submit' type='submit' value='Submit' />

Would automatically create a serialized object like this:

  "title": "My Title",
  "veges": [
  "people": [
      "first_name": "john",
      "last_name": "doe",
      "hobbies": [
      "books": [
          "title": "devil in the white city",
          "year": 2003
          "title": "react",
          "year": 2011
      "first_name": "crazy",
      "last_name": "tom",
      "hobbies": [
      "books": [
          "title": 1984,
          "year": 1950
          "title": "dune",
          "year": 1963


  • npm install
  • npm test
  • Make sure your IDE is eslint capable!