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This page can collect various General/UserInterface validation techniques.

The standard techniques differ according to what you are validating.

Menu Items

Write me!

Buttons and Other Controls

There is a page for General/ValidatingNSButtons; general UI validation principles apply

Toolbar Items

See General/NSToolbarSampleCode for one way to do it. See also General/ValidatingToolbarItems and General/ValidatingToolbarItemsInThreadedApp.

Panther introduces General/CocoaBindings, which can be used to validate controls (and maybe menus?).

A control’s enabled, editable, and hidden bindings can be bound to model keys, which can be tested for nil, not nil, false, or true, or anything else you like if you write the appropriate General/NSValueTransformer. You can bind these multiple times; the final value will be OR’d in the case of hidden or AND’d for editable and enabled.

Panther also introduces General/KeyValueObserving, which is a cool validation technique on its own. You can use it to avoid calling validation methods or posting validation notifications.

You can observe any model or controller property, so long as changes to the property are surrounded (automatically or manually) by willChangeValueForKey: and didChangeValueForKey:. Register an observer and write the observeValueForKeyPath:ofObject:change:context: method. This method should validate controls appropriately. You can validate on a per-key or per-object basis, or both. Your controller can observe changes to itself by calling [self observeValueForKeyPath:@”property” ofObject:self�].

Panther also introduces General/KeyValueValidation. This works in conjunction with General/CocoaBindings. When a value needs to be validated, a model object method like -validateFoobaz:error: is called automatically (if it exists). It should return YES or NO (along with an autoreleased error string). See full documentation at

Although the above page says that the validation method can correct the data and return YES, this is deprecated, and General/CocoaBindings does not support it.

What makes you say that? The July 2005 developer documentation still states that the validation method can correct the data and return YES, and I made it work with General/CocoaBindings.

There is an Apple page at which discusses using the General/NSValidatedUserInterfaceItem protocol and - (BOOL)validateUserInterfaceItem:(id <General/NSValidatedUserInterfaceItem>)anItem but says only General/NSMenuItem and General/NSToolbarItem support it. How can I get it to work with other controls? Or is General/CocoaBindings the way to go? (I’ve successfully avoided learning much about them up until now…)

This may sound like a stupid question, but … what exactly is user interface validation? I thought validating a control meant checking the value given by a user was valid, but that doesn’t seem to make sense w.r.t. menu and toolbar items. I feel like I’ve missed out some Basic GUI 101 course :)

In this case, the validUserInterfaceItem: and other methods return YES if the specified user interface item should be enabled, and NO if it should not. An example case might be disabling the Delete menu item if nothing is selected. –General/JediKnil

What follows used to be General/ValidatingNSButtons, but it is more specific and related to using Bindings for user interface validation:

I have a button that needs to be enabled or disabled based on whether a string is non-nil (the string is a path for my app to process.) I know I could just call setEnabled: on it (and every other button that needs it), but I’d like to do it a better way… As far as I can tell, my options are:

Are you retrieving the string from a text field? If so, it will not return nil; instead, it will return a blank General/NSString. That explains why the bindings does not work. Sorry, I don’t know enough about bindings or General/NSUserInterfaceValidation to help you further. Have you looked into making your own value transformer to see if it’s a blank string? – General/RyanBates

Okay, after doing a little testing I see my theory was not correct. Bindings work correctly with the General/NSIsNotNil value transformer, but it does not take effect until the user finishes editing the text field - this is probably not what you want, and a custom value transformer will not fix this problem. You will probably have to do it manually. – General/RyanBates

I fixed it… Eventually the string will come from a General/NSOpenPanel, but for now I’m just setting an instance variable myself. My problem was I was doing it directly, rather than going through a KVC-compliant accessor.

You are not supposed to bind the “enabled” property to anything but a boolean controller attribute, for example -canInsert or -canRemove or similar (or set of similar using the extended “enabled" additional bindings). Do not expect correct behaviour when binding to an attribute that returns an object.

Yes, but should it not matter if you have a value transformer which spits out a boolean?

My thoughts exactly. It works, anyway, whether or not it’s supposed to.