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Document Update Validation

See also the official documentation for this topic.

A design document may define a member function called "validate_doc_update". Requests to create or update a document are validated against every "validate_doc_update" function defined in the database. The validation functions are executed in an unspecified order. A design document can contain only one validation function. Errors are thrown as javascript objects.

Example of a design document that validates the presence of an "address" field and returns :

   1 {
   2    "_id": "_design/myview",
   3    "validate_doc_update": "function(newDoc, oldDoc, userCtx, secObj) {
   4       if (newDoc.address === undefined) {
   5          throw({forbidden: 'Document must have an address.'});
   6       }"
   7 }

The result of a document update without the address field will look like this:

HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
WWW-Authenticate: Basic realm="administrator"
Server: CouchDB/0.9.0 (Erlang OTP/R12B)
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 00:02:32 GMT
Content-Type: text/plain;charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 57
Cache-Control: must-revalidate

{"error":"forbidden","reason":"Document must have an address."}

The "validate_doc_update" function accepts three arguments:

  1. newDoc - The document to be created or used for update.
  2. oldDoc - The current document if document id was specified in the HTTP request
  3. userCtx - User context object, which contains three properties:
    1. db - String name of database
    2. name - String user name
    3. roles - Array of roles to which user belongs. Currently only admin role is supported.
  4. secObj - The security object of the database (introduced in CouchDB-0.11.1).

Error Formats

Thrown errors must be javascript objects with a key of either "forbidden" or "unauthorized," and a value with the error message:

throw({forbidden: 'Error message here.'});


throw({unauthorized: 'Error message here.'});


Some of these functions are found in http://guide.couchdb.org/draft/validation.html . Use them inside your validate_doc_update functions.

  function required(field, message /* optional */) {
    message = message || "Document must have a " + field;
    if (!newDoc[field]) throw({forbidden : message});

  function unchanged(field) {
    if (oldDoc && toJSON(oldDoc[field]) != toJSON(newDoc[field]))
      throw({forbidden : "Field can't be changed: " + field});

  function user_is(role) {
    return userCtx.roles.indexOf(role) >= 0;

Here is a validation function I use to manage update Authorization using the roles as an ACL. A user may modify documents for which the accounts listed in his "roles" ACL are a prefix of the account specified.

  function user_match(account,message /* optional */) {
    for (var i in userCtx.roles) {
      var prefix = userCtx.roles[i];
      /* prefix-matching: "roles" will contain strings like "account:0003546" -- or define your own matching rules */
      if( ("account:"+account).substring(0,prefix.length) === prefix ) return;
    throw({forbidden : message||"No access to this account"});

  /* Usage */
  if(oldDoc) {
    if(newDoc._deleted) {
      user_match(newDoc.account,"You are not authorized to delete this document");
    } else {
      user_match(newDoc.account,"You are not authorized to modify this document");
  } else {
    user_match(newDoc.account,"You are not authorized to create this document");

Document_Update_Validation (last edited 2013-06-05 21:35:29 by 71)