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Eclipse EMF Validation Framework
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Static Constraint Providers

Constraints are contributed into the EMF Validation Framework by constraint providers. These are declared as extensions on the org.eclipse.emf.validation.constraintProviders point. The framework offers support for two kinds of providers: static providers, which declare all of their constraints in the plugin.xml, and dynamic providers, which obtain their constraints at run-time from some source that they determine. Static providers, the subject of this topic, are really just a built-in implementation of the dynamic provider API.

Statically Declaring Constraints

The static constraint provider declares all of its constraints in its extension in the plugin.xml file on the org.eclipse.emf.validation.constraintProviders extension point. Each <constraint> element provides all of the metadata required by the constraint descriptor, plus a language-specific declaration of the constraint's implementation. For OCL constraints, this is simply the constraint expression. For Java constraints, it is the class name.

<extension point="org.eclipse.emf.validation.constraintProviders">
  <category name="Library Constraints" id="org.eclipse.example.library">

    <package namespaceUri="https:///org/eclipse/emf/examples/library/extlibrary.ecore/1.0.0"/>
    <constraints categories="org.eclipse.example.library">
            name="Library Must have a Unique Name"
        <description>Libraries have unique names.</description>
        <message>{0} has the same name as another library.</message>
        <target class="Library">
            <event name="Set">
                 <feature name="name"/>

The example above declares a category with an ID and a localizable name. This category is referenced as one of the categorizations of the group of constraints that is declared in the <constraintProvider> element.

The constraint provider class is implicit; the provider that obtains static constraint definitions from the plugin.xml is provided by the framework and is the default provider. This example indicates that it provides constraints for the EXTLibrary example model. This is a high-level enablement condition, which allows the framework to not consult or even instantiate this provider until it needs to validate library objects. Any number of packages can be specified.

Next is a group of <constraints> which, as mentioned already, is associated with the category defined earlier. This example declares a single constraint in this group. It is a Java-language constraint implemented by the class indicated, which must be accessible on the declaring plug-in's classpath (not necessarily deployed in this plug-in). It specifies severity (error would be the default), evaluation mode (batch is the default), localizable name, and unique ID. The ID's uniqueness is ensured by the framework; if it is not already prepended by the declaring plug-in's ID, then the framework will prepend it on the plug-in's behalf. Thus, the ID could have been specified simply as "LibraryNameIsUnique."

The status code is arbitrary, used merely to populate the IStatus objects created by the framework on constraint violation. The localizable description appears in the preference page, and the message appears in problems reported by the constraint. Any number of positional arguments (in the MessageFormat pattern) may be specified. The constraint implementation determines how they are filled.

Last, but very important, is the declaration of the EClasses targeted by this constraint and the events that trigger it. Zero or more targets may be specified (none implying any object of the constraint provider's packages). This example is a live constraint, and specifies that it is triggered by Notification.SET event types on the name feature. A batch constraint would not specify such triggers.

Note that these events are not really sufficient to ensure that live validation always detects when duplication of library names occurs. For example, a library that already has a duplicate name may be attached to the model. In this case, the application may not receive and events from the name because it doesn't start listening until the library is attached. Another topic discusses a mechanism that can help with this problem.

Copyright (c) 2000, 2007 IBM Corporation and others. All Rights Reserved.

  Published under the terms of the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 ("EPL") Design by Interspire