Web forms for Clojure and ClojureScript - rendering, parsing, and validating
Latest commit 6de6386 Feb 14, 2017 @iku000888 iku000888 committed on GitHub Update CHANGELOG.md




Web forms for Clojure and ClojureScript:

  • Render a form via pluggable renderers (comes with Bootstrap and other renderers built in)
  • Parse form data from Ring-style param maps or strings
  • Validate parsed data using Verily

See a live demo at formative-demo.herokuapp.com (demo source)


Leiningen coordinate:

[formative "0.8.9"]


The important namespaces are formative.core and formative.parse.

(ns example.core
  (:require [formative.core :as f]
            [formative.parse :as fp]))

For the ClojureScript version, there's also formative.dom (see Dom Helpers).

Building a Form

To build a form, you need a form specification, which is a map that looks like this:

(def example-form
  {:fields [{:name :secret-code :type :hidden :datatype :int}
            {:name :email :type :email}
            {:name :password :type :password}
            {:name :remember :type :checkbox}]
   :validations [[:required [:secret-code :email :password]]
                 [:min-length 8 :password]]
   :values {:secret-code 1234
            :remember true}})

The map can contain keys such as :method and :action that directly correspond to HTML form attributes (although unlike HTML, "post" is the default :method). It can also contain special keys such as :fields and :submit-label. See the Form Specification section for more about the specification format.

Rendering a Form

Render a form using formative.core/render-form:

(f/render-form example-form)
;; Returns:
[:div {:class "form-shell form-horizontal bootstrap-form"}
 [:form {:method :post}
  ;; ... etc ...

Using the default :bootstrap-horizontal renderer and a Bootstrap theme, the form will look something like this when passed through Hiccup or Dommy:


Note: Formative does not include any CSS or images. You are responsible for providing those yourself.

Renderers are pluggable and can return any kind of format -- e.g., Hiccup or string. Formative comes with several built-in Hiccup renderers which you can set using the :renderer form specification key:

  • :bootstrap-horizontal (the default)
  • :bootstrap-stacked
  • :bootstrap3-stacked
  • :table
  • :inline

Custom form renderers can be implemented using the formative.render/render-form multimethod.

You can also render individual fields using formative.core/render-field. Unlike render-form, render-field always returns Hiccup data. render-field takes a field specification and an optional value:

(f/render-field {:name :flavor
                 :type :select
                 :options ["Chocolate" "Vanilla" "Strawberry"]}
;; Returns:
[:select {:name "flavor"}
 ([:option {:value "Chocolate"} "Chocolate"]
  [:option {:value "Vanilla", :selected true} "Vanilla"]
  [:option {:value "Strawberry"} "Strawberry"])]

Notice that the "Vanilla" option is selected in our generated element.

All of the built-in form renderers make use of render-field, but not all renderers are required to do so.

Parsing Form Data

formative.parse/parse-params will turn a form specification and form data into a map of parsed form data. It will parse each field according to its :type or :datatype keys.

;; From Ring param map
(fp/parse-params example-form
                 {:secret-code "1234"
                  :email "foobar@gmail.com"
                  :password "barbazquux"
                  :remember "false"})
;; Returns:
{:remember false, :secret-code 1234, :password "barbazquux", :email "foobar@gmail.com"}

;; From form data string
(fp/parse-params example-form
;; Returns:
{:remember false, :secret-code 1234, :password "barbazquux", :email "foobar@gmail.com"}

Notice that the :remember and :secret-code fields have been parsed from strings into their respective datatypes.

By default, validation will be performed on the parsed values and an exception thrown if validation fails. If the :validate keyword option to parse-params is false, ParseError records will be used in place of values that failed to parse, and no validation will be done.

Any exception thrown due to a failed parse or validation will contain a :problems ex-data key with information about the failed exception.

(fp/parse-params example-form {:secret-code "xxx"})
;; ExceptionInfo Problem parsing params  clojure.core/ex-info (core.clj:4227)

(ex-data *e)
;; {:problems ({:keys (:secret-code), :msg "must be a number"}), …}

(fp/parse-params example-form {:secret-code "xxx"} :validate false)
{:secret-code #formative.parse.ParseError{:bad-value "xxx"}}

The formative.parse/with-fallback macro (or formative.macros/with-fallback for ClojureScript) is a handy way to try parsing params, and call a "fallback" function if it fails. The fallback function will be supplied the problems as its argument.

(defn submit-example-form [params]
  ;; Calls (show-example-form params :problems problems) if parsing fails
  (fp/with-fallback #(show-example-form params :problems %)
    (let [values (fp/parse-params example-form params))]
      ;; Success
      (prn-str values)))

Validating Parsed Data

Formative uses Verily to validate parsed data. By default, only datatypes are validated (unless :validate-types is set to false).

There are two ways to add your own validation to a form: :validations and :validator.


A sequence of validation specifications. For example:

[[:required [:foo :bar :password]]
 [:equal [:password :confirm-password] "Passwords don't match, dummy"]
 [:min-length 8 :password]]

All validation specifications accept a key or sequence of keys. The message is always optional.

Unless :required is used, all validations allow the keys to be absent from the map, or have a nil value (or blank if a string-based type).

Built in validations:

  • :required <keys> [msg] - must not absent, blank, or nil
  • :contains <keys> [msg] - must not be absent, but can be blank or nil
  • :not-blank <keys> [msg] - may be absent but not blank or nil
  • :exact <value> <keys> [msg] - must be a particular value
  • :equal <keys> [msg] - all keys must be equal
  • :email <keys> [msg] - must be a valid email
  • :url <keys> [msg] - must be a valid URL
  • :web-url <keys> [msg] - must be a valid website URL (http or https)
  • :us-tel <keys> [msg] - must be a valid US phone number
  • :matches <regex> <keys> [msg] - must match a regular expression
  • :min-length <len> <keys> [msg] - must be a certain length (for strings or collections)
  • :max-length <len> <keys> [msg] - must not exceed a certain length (for strings or collections)
  • :complete <keys> [msg] - must be a collection with no blank or nil values
  • :min-val <min> <keys> [msg] - must be at least a certain value
  • :max-val <max> <keys> [msg] - must be at most a certain value
  • :within <min> <max> <keys> [msg] - must be within a certain range (inclusive)
  • :after <date> <keys> [msg] - must be after a certain date
  • :before <date> <keys> [msg] - must be before a certain date
  • :in <coll> <keys> [msg] - must be contained within a collection
  • :us-zip <keys> [msg] - must be a valid US zip code
  • :us-state <keys> [msg] - must be a valid two-letter US state code
  • :ca-state <keys> [msg] - must be a valid two-letter Canadian province code
  • :country <keys> [msg] - must be a valid ISO alpha2 country code
  • Datatype validations: :string, :boolean, :integer, :float, :decimal, :date
  • Datatype collection validations: :strings, :booleans, :integers, :floats, :decimals, :dates


A function that takes a map of parsed values and returns a problem map or sequence of problem maps. A problem map has the keys :keys, indicating which keys were problems (optional), and :msg, a description of what's wrong. If nil or an empty sequence is returned, validation succeeds.

(defn validate-password [values]
  (when (#{"12345" "password" "hunter2"} (:password values))
    {:keys [:password] :msg "You can't use that password"}))

See Verily for more about validation functions.

Making Changes at Runtime

Typically form specifications are defined as vars, so you can refer to them easily from functions. However, many forms incorporate or depend on runtime data. For example, you might add or remove fields depending on the access level of the user.

You are of course free to tweak the form map yourself to make the appropriate runtime changes before rendering it. But merge-fields and remove-fields may come in handy and save you time.

merge-fields can modify and insert/append fields. remove-fields removes fields. Both can operate on a form or a sequence of fields. Example:

(let [form {:fields [{:name :a} {:name :b} {:name :c}]}]
  (-> form
      (f/merge-fields [{:name :a :datatype :int}
                       {:name :d :before :c}])
      (f/remove-fields [:b])))
;; {:fields ({:datatype :int, :name :a} {:name :d} {:name :c})}

As shown above, merge-fields will look for :before and :after keys in the given fields to decide whether to insert the field or append it.

DOM Helpers

For the ClojureScript version of Formative, several DOM helpers are provided in the formative.dom namespace. For the most common use case, there's formative.dom/handle-submit, which attaches an event handler to a form's "submit" browser event, validates submitted data, then:

  • If validation fails, shows the problems (or, if provided, calls a custom failure function with the problems data as the argument)
  • If validation succeeds, calls a success function with parsed params as the argument


  example-form container-el
  (fn [params]
    (js/alert (pr-str params))))

Other useful functions in formative.dom:

  • serialize [form-el] - given a form element, returns a form data string
  • clear-problems [container-or-form-el] - clears problems from a form
  • show-problems [form-spec container-or-form-el problems] - shows problems for a form

CSRF Protection

If you include the ring-anti-forgery middleware in your app, Formative will automatically include its CSRF token in forms with method :post (the default).

Quick Reference

Form Specification

Valid keys for a form specification include the following HTML form attributes:

  :action :method :enctype :accept :name :id :class
  :onsubmit :onreset :accept-charset :autofill :novalidate

Unlike an HTML form, :method defaults to :post. If method is something other than :get or :post, a hidden field with name "_method" will be added, and the form method set to :post. If you are using Compojure for routing, it will recognize the "_method" field.

The following special keys are also supported:

  :renderer       - Determines the type of renderer to use. Built-in options:
                      :bootstrap-horizontal (the default)
  :fields         - Sequence of form field specifications. See below.
  :values         - Map of values used to populate the form fields, or a
                    form-data-encoded string
  :submit-label   - Label to use on the submit button. Defaults to "Submit"
  :cancel-label   - Label to use on the cancel button. Defaults to "Cancel"
  :cancel-href    - When provided, shows a "Cancel" link or button next to the
                    submit button
  :validations    - A sequence of validation specifications
  :validator      - A function to call to validate parsed values for this
                    form. The function should take a map of values and return
                    a sequence of problem maps for each field that failed to
                    validate. The problem map should contain the keys :keys
                    and :msg.
  :validate-types - Whether to validate datatypes; true by default.
  :problems       - Sequence of field names or problem maps. Form
                    renderers typically add a class and style to highlight
                    problem fields and, if problem maps are provided,
                    show descriptive messages.
  :timezone       - String of timezone with which to localize the display of
                    :datetime-select fields. The default is UTC. JVM only.

New form renderers can be implemented using the formative.render/render-form multimethod.

Field Specification

A field specification is a map with keys corresponding to HTML attributes and the following special keys:

  :name         - Required name of the field, a keyword or string. Use
                  dotted keywords like :foo.bar to represent fields that
                  will parse as nested map values.
  :label        - Optional display name. Auto-generated from :name if not
  :type         - Type of the field. Defaults to :text. See below for
                  built-in types. If an unrecognized type is provided,
                  an <input> element with that type will be assumed.
                  Certain types imply particular parsing or validation
                  rules - e.g., an :email field must be a valid email.
  :datatype     - Optional. Datatype of the field used for parsing. Can be
                  one of:

                  :str, :int, :long, :boolean, :float, :double, :decimal,
                  :bigint, :date, :time, :instant, :file.

                  Defaults to :str.

                  All types can be appended with an "s" when a sequence
                  is expected - e.g., :ints for a sequence of integers. This
                  is useful for fields that have composite values, such as

                  :date field values are expected to be in yyyy-MM-dd
                  format by default. Set :date-format to change that. :time
                  fields may be in H:m or H:m:s format. :instant fields
                  are in EDN instant (RFC-3339) format.

                  All date/time fields are parsed into java.util.Date
                  or java.sql.Time (or Date for ClojureScript) objects
                  created using the UTC timezone.
  :datatype-error - Optional custom error message to use if datatype
                  validation fails.
  :blank-nil    - When the value is parsed, replace a blank string with nil
  :flatten      - If a value parses to a map (e.g. for :compound fields),
                  adds each key of the map to the top level values map,
                  prefixed with the field name and a dash.
  :note         - A bit of explanatory content to accompany the field
  :prefix       - Content to insert before a field
  :suffix       - Content to insert after a field

Field Types

Built-in field types:

  :text         - Single-line text input
  :textarea     - Multi-line text input
  :select       - Dropdown. Special keys:
                    :options - options to display; see below for format
                    :placeholder - text for a first, disabled option
                    :first-option - option to prepend to the other options
  :checkbox     - Defaults to true/false when no :value is given. Special
                    :value - value of a checked input (default true)
                    :unchecked-value - value of an unchecked input (default
  :checkboxes   - Multiple checkboxes that parse to a collection of values.
                  Special keys:
                    :options - options to display; see below for format
                    :cols - number of columns to group checkboxes into
  :radios       - Multiple radio inputs that parse to a single value.
                  Special keys:
                    :options - options to display; see below for format
  :email        - Email text input
  :us-state     - United States state dropdown. Accepts :select special
  :us-zip       - United States ZIP code
  :ca-state     - Canadian province
  :country      - Country dropdown. Accepts :select special keys.
  :us-tel       - United States phone number (10 digits plus optional
                  "x" + extension). Will be normalized and formatted
  :date-select  - Date dropdown. Renders as multiple :select fields, parses
                  as a UTC java.util.Date (or Date for ClojureScript).
                  Accepts Joda dates as values.
                  Special keys:
  :year-select  - Year dropdown, parses to integer. Accepts :select special
                  keys plus:
  :month-select - Month dropdown, parses to integer (1-12). Accepts :select
                  special keys plus:
                    :numbers - when true, shows numbers instead of month
  :time-select  - Time dropdown. Renders as one or more :select fields, parses
                  as a UTC java.sql.Time (or Date for ClojureScript).
                  Accepts Joda times as values.
                  Special keys:
                    :compact - true to use a single dropdown (default false)
                    :ampm - true to use am/pm (the default); false to use
                            24-hour format
                    :step - step between minutes/seconds; default 5
                    :seconds - whether to include a seconds field
                    :start - when :compact is true, start time
                    :end - when :compact is true, end time (inclusive)
  :datetime-select - Combined date/time dropdown. Parses as a UTC
                  java.util.Date (or Date for ClojureScript).
                  Accepts Joda date values. See :date-select
                  and :time-select for special keys, plus:
                    :timezone - String of timezone with which to localize the
                                display. The default is UTC. JVM only.
  :currency     - Text input for money. Parses as a :decimal datatype
  :file         - File upload input. Special keys:
                    :upload-handler - optional handler called when a file is
                      uploaded. The field's specification and Ring param
                      value are passed as arguments to the handler. The
                      handler can return whatever value is appropriate
                      (e.g., a String or a File).
  :compound     - Multiple fields displayed and parsed as one field. Special
                    :separator - string or Hiccup data; defaults to a space
                    :combiner - a function which takes a collection of the
                                rendered fields and returns Hiccup data
                                that represents the combined field; by
                                default, fields are combined by interposing
                                the separator
  :submit       - Submit button. Included by default, but can be added
                  explicitly if you prefer. Unlike with a default submit
                  button, its value will be parsed.


The :options key for :select and other types accepts a collection of any of the following formats:

      ["value" "label" sub-options]
      {:value "value" :label "label" :options sub-options}
      "value and label"

If sub-options are provided, the element is rendered as a group (e.g., optgroup for :select fields).

The :options value can also be a function of no arguments or a Delay object -- either of which must yield a collection in one of the above formats.

By default, a field with :options set only accepts values from within :options when validated. Set :validate-options to false on the field to accept any value.

Presentational Field Types

The following presentational types are also available. They are excluded from parsing.

  :heading      - Section heading. In the default renderer, acts as a fieldset
                  separator. Special keys:
                    :text - heading text
  :html         - Custom, unlabeled HTML. Special keys:
                    :html - HTML string or Hiccup data
  :labeled-html - Custom, labeled HTML. Special keys:
                    :html - HTML string or Hiccup data

Field types are extensible with the formative.render/render-field and formative.parse/parse-input multimethods.


See a live demo at formative-demo.herokuapp.com or view the demo source.


This project uses Cljc with reader conditionals to share and emit Clojure and ClojureScript code. To start a REPL, run:

$ lein repl :headless

Then connect via nREPL in your preferred editor.


Copyright © 2012-2013 Justin Kramer

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.