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5 Validation Functions

Tablicious provides several validation functions which can be used to check properties of function arguments, variables, object properties, and other expressions. These can be used to express invariants in your program and catch problems due to input errors, incorrect function usage, or other bugs.

These validation functions are named following the pattern mustBeXxx, where Xxx is some property of the input it is testing. Validation functions may check the type, size, or other aspects of their inputs.

The most common place for validation functions to be used will probably be at the beginning of functions, to check the input arguments and ensure that the contract of the function is not being violated. If in the future Octave gains the ability to declaratively express object property constraints, they will also be of use there.

Be careful not to get too aggressive with the use of validation functions: while using them can make sure invariants are followed and your program is correct, they also reduce the code’s ability to make use of duck typing, reducing its flexibility. Whether you want to make this trade-off is a design decision you will have to consider.

When a validation function’s condition is violated, it raises an error that includes a description of the violation in the error message. This message will include a label for the input that describes what is being tested. By default, this label is initialized with inputname(), so when you are calling a validator on a function argument or variable, you will generally not need to supply a label. But if you’re calling it on an object property or an expression more complex than a simple variable reference, the validator cannot automatically detect the input name for use in the label. In this case, make use of the optional trailing argument(s) to the functions to manually supply a label for the value being tested.

% Validation of a simple variable does not need a label
mustBeScalar (x);
% Validation of a field or property reference does need a label
mustBeScalar (, '');

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