Newborn Challenges Data Entry Establishment

Derek Harmon / Thursday, June 21, 2007

I was struck by the ramifications of a New Zealand Herald report today by Eveline Jenkin about a newborn whose parents want to name the child "4real," but where the NZ government has refused to register the boy with that name.  As Internet culture increasingly blends with real world society, this makes me think we may have to question some of the preconceived notions we carry around about what the format of a legal name should be.

Can your application deal with names containing numbers? are such names accepted or rejected as "invalid?"  will such names always sort to the top or bottom of your data tables?  does your user interface provide a way to select names starting with something other than a letter?

If you answered "No" to any of these questions then you may need to revisit what your validity constraints on names are, if such names become trendy.

Regular expressions are one means of verifying the data users enter into our applications, and support for value constraints that specify a RegexPattern are built into our controls like the xamEditors™.  When using NetAdvantage for WPF, you can declare these regular expressions in XAML which makes them somewhat easier to maintain then having to dig into the source code:

<igEditors:XamTextEditor x:Name="editFirstName"
 InvalidValueBehavior="DisplayErrorMessage" >
<igEditors:ValueConstraint MinLength="2" RegexPattern="\w+" />

Patterns that give you flexibility are paramount when it comes to the volatile and sometimes unexpected changes that can overtake cultural norms at anytime. 

As good as XAML is for declaring a regex used for validating data entry, separating the regular expression from the code by storing regular expressions used for validation in a database may be a more sustainable and easily maintained choice.  By designing your app to get all of its validation constraints from a database you can enable changes to be made in the validation constraints more easily than redeploying code changes to the app.

Whether or not 4real's parents succeed in their appeal, I think we can all take this story as an opportunity (and a wake-up call) to reassess how we're doing our data entry and validation.