The most significant feature in Bean Validation 2.0 (JSR 380) is the support for container element constraints. I.e. you can now apply constraints to the contents of container types such as List, Map or Optional by annotating their type arguments (which became possible with Java 8): List<@Future LocalDate> shipmentDates.

In this blog post you’ll learn how to take advantage of that for the validation of custom container types, such as Multimap, Table or Graph from Google’s widely known Guava library.

As an example, let’s consider a Person class which should be able to keep multiple e-mail addresses of different types (e.g. two addresses of type "work" and two "private" addresses). Such use case can nicely be modelled using Guava’s Multimap type, which allows to store multiple values for a single key:

public class Person {

    public Multimap<String, String> emailsByType;

    // constructor etc.

To ensure that only valid data is stored, let’s put some constraints in place:

public Multimap<@NotBlank String, @NotBlank @Email String> emailsByType;

This should make sure that a ConstraintViolation is produced, if the emailsByType map contained

  • any blank string as a key

  • any blank string or a string which isn’t a valid e-mail address as a value

Now let’s see what happens if we validate a Person instance:

Person bob = new Person();
bob.emailsByType.put( "work", "" );
bob.emailsByType.put( "work", "not-an-email" );
bob.emailsByType.put( "private", "" );

Validator validator = Validation.buildDefaultValidatorFactory()

Set<ConstraintViolation<Bean>> violations = validator.validate ( bob );

We should get one constraint violation about the second "work" e-mail (which isn’t a valid e-mail address), right?

Unfortunately, that’s not quite what’s happening; instead an exception is raised:

javax.validation.ConstraintDeclarationException: HV000197:
No value extractor found for type parameter 'K' of type

This is Hibernate Validator’s way of telling us that it detected a constraint applying to one of the type parameters of Multimap (the <K> type parameter), but then it lacked information about how to obtain the values to be validated (the map keys in this case) from that container.

This makes sense from a specification point of view. While the Bean Validation spec defines built-in support for JDK collection types, it cannot make assumptions about custom container types such as the ones provided by Guava, let alone specific container types just defined in your project.

But the exception message above points us into the right direction: instead of just mandating support for a fixed number of container types, the spec defines the value extractors SPI which is used for the retrieval of container elements. By plugging in extractors for the custom container types you use, you can put constraints to them and the Bean Validation provider will call that SPI to fetch the container elements in order to validate them.

Value Extractors for Multimap

So let’s leverage that SPI for supporting Bean Validation constraints on the keys and values of Guava’s Multimap.

For each type parameter that should be constrainable, an implementation of javax.validation.valueextraction.ValueExtractor is required. Let’s begin by creating the extractor for multimap values:

public class MultimapValueExtractor implements ValueExtractor<Multimap<?, @ExtractedValue ?>> {

    public void extractValues(Multimap<?, ?> originalValue, ValueReceiver receiver) {
        // TODO

The ValueExtractor interface is parameterized with the type to extract from (Multimap in our case). As a container may support constraints on multiple type parameters, the @ExtractedValue annotation is used to mark that type parameter which this extractor deals with.

The interface just defines a single method, extractValues(). Here we need to implement the logic for fetching those elements from the container that correspond to the type parameter processed by the extractor. Each such element is to be passed to a suitable method of the given ValueReceiver object:

public void extractValues(Multimap<?, ?> originalValue, ValueReceiver receiver) {
    for ( Entry<?, ?> entry : originalValue.entries() ) {
        receiver.keyedValue( "<multimap value>", entry.getKey(), entry.getValue() );

ValueReceiver provides multiple methods such as keyedValue(), indexedValue() etc. One of them must be called for each element of the container. All receiver methods accept a node name (which will be used in the corresponding property path, should the validation yield any ConstraintViolation) and the element value. Our implementation iterates through the Multimap entries and for each entry it passes the string literal <multimap value> and the entry value to the receiver.

Depending on the receiver method called by the extractor, the property path node in the resulting ConstraintViolation will also return a key from Node#getKey() or a collection index from Node#getIndex(). Which of the receiver methods should be called, depends on the semantics of the container type. If it supports access by an index (such as List), indexedValue() should be called. For containers with key-style access (such as Map or Multimap), keyedValue() is the right match. For other multi-valued containers (e.g. Iterable), you’d call iterableValue() and finally, for any single-valued container (e.g. Optional), just value() should be called.

Similarly to the extractor for the multimap values, we also declare one for its keys:

public class MultimapKeyExtractor implements ValueExtractor<Multimap<@ExtractedValue ?, ?>> {

    public void extractValues(Multimap<?, ?> originalValue, ValueReceiver receiver) {
        for ( Object key : originalValue.keySet() ) {
            receiver.keyedValue( "<multimap key>", key, key );

In this case the @ExtractedValue annotation marks Multimap's type parameter <K> and as the validated value the extractor passes the map keys to the receiver.

Registering the Value Extractors

Having created the two value extractors for Multimap, they must be registered with the Bean Validation engine. There are multiple ways to do so (e.g. we could pass them to the bootstrap API when programmatically creating a ValidatorFactory), but the most convenient one is to rely on the service loader mechanism.

For that we just need to declare a file named META-INF/services/javax.validation.valueextraction.ValueExtractor and give the fully-qualified names of our custom extractor implementations as the contents:


The Bean Validation provider will automatically pick up all extractor implementations which are registered that way.

Finally, let’s run our example again and see how the resulting ConstraintViolation and its property path look like. (all the assertions in the example are true):

Person bob = new Person();
bob.emailsByType.put( "work", "" );
bob.emailsByType.put( "work", "not-an-email" );

Validator validator = Validation.buildDefaultValidatorFactory()

Set<ConstraintViolation<Bean>> violations = validator.validate (bean );
assert violations.size() == 1;

// one violation of the @Email constraint
ConstraintViolation<Bean> violation = violations.iterator().next();
assert violation.getInvalidValue().equals( "not-an-email" );
assert violation.getConstraintDescriptor().getAnnotation().annotationType().equals( Email.class );

Iterator<Node> pathNodes = violation.getPropertyPath().iterator();
assert pathNodes.hasNext() == true;

// first property path node
Node node =;
assert node.getName().equals( "emailsByType" );
assert node.getKind() == ElementKind.PROPERTY;

assert pathNodes.hasNext() == true;

// second node
node =;
assert node.getName().equals( "<multimap value>" );
assert node.getKind() == ElementKind.CONTAINER_ELEMENT;
assert node.getKey().equals( "work" );

assert pathNodes.hasNext() == false;

Of specific interest is the second node in the property path. It is of kind CONTAINER_ELEMENT and returns the name and key we passed in the value extractor. The invalid element’s value can be obtained via ConstraintViolation#getInvalidValue().


While Bean Validation 2.0 comes with support for many container types out of the box (besides the JDK collection types there’s for instance also support for Optional and the property types from JavaFX), it is also very easy to add support for other, custom container types by implementing the ValueExtractor SPI.

To learn more, take a look at the Value extraction chapter of the Hibernate Validator reference guide. It discusses some more advanced cases (e.g. support for non-generic containers) and all the different ways for registering custom extractors.

You can find a complete example with the source code of this blog post in our demos repository. And if you have any questions around value extractors, please let us know in the comments below.

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