What You Need To Know About Email Validation, Regex & More
Building a website is always a challenge especially when you're building through coding. While there are online services that offer easy to build websites, creating a website from scratch is often the choice of businesses. Aside from unlimited customizations, there is always the challenge of ensuring your website is secured against attacks. Building the website from scratch could increase the website's security as long as the best practices are observed.
One of the pitfalls of creating a website through coding is ensuring that data coming from visitors and users are correct and according to format. It may look easy on implementation but there is some serious coding required just to make sure every information entered by users is according to format.
The data that require the most validation when entered online is the email address. Name, address and other forms of information could be easily validated because they are either plain text, numbers or a combination of both. But an email address could be something entirely different because an email could use hyphens, dots, numbers and the addition of the symbol "@" on the email address makes it harder for validation.
Email Validation & Regex - Regular Expression Validation
Regular Expression or RegEx is a string of characters that validates the information entered by users. This is often used by web designers and programmers to implement simple functions such as find and/or replace since it could help specify the data that needs to be searched. But aside from RegEx usefulness on basic search and replace, it is also very useful in ensuring that the email address given is according to format.
Email validation on RegEx is pretty straightforward in terms of what to look for on an email address. Basically an email is divided into four parts:
- Name with "@"
- Domain followed by dot
- Any letters
- Another dot followed by letters
If you consider firstname.lastname@example.org, it only has three parts (name with "@", domain followed by dot and any letters) but there will be cases that the RegEx will extend its email validation to four parts when considering emails such as "email@example.com". By implementing this type of RegEx validation, an email could be validated as they are typed by users.
The Challenge in Web Programming/Design
At first glance, it seems that RegEx could be easily implemented when you focus on these four parts. But actual programming is so much more because the first part (name with "@") will have to validate letters with additional combinations of dots, numbers and hyphens. A wrong RegEx will immediately invalidate an email even if the correct information is provided. At the same time, it could deem an email with a wrong format as correct if the RegEx is incorrect.
Unfortunately, RegEx email validation is different per language but that is to be expected. Fortunately, websites such as emailregex.com exist so that programmers don't have to sweat so much in creating email validation on RegEx for email. Simply copy and paste the RegEx according to the language used in email validation for proper implementation.
While the good news of an easy copy-paste support for email RegEx validation, it should be noted that RegEx is never a perfect solution due to language barrier. There will always be a unique character coming in which could baffle RegEx. However, validation on email through RegEx is often at 99% especially when most visitors are only from countries using Roman alphabet.
An Alternative (but Flawed) Solution
Those who are not considering RegEx for email validation still have a simple option on how to ensure that their online visitors will enter a valid email: the entered email address will receive a validation link from the website for verification. It's a simple solution for webmasters because it allows immediate validation of email manually. Unfortunately, this method could be heavy for the server and susceptible to attacks especially when there are too many requests for email validation links.
When building a website with online engagement, one of the most important features to be implemented is to sign-up users through email. The website should immediately validate the email address through RegEx to prevent any problem with visitors' data. Fortunately, there are websites that offer free codes on RegEx depending on the language used on the website.