There has been some talk recently about validating e-mail without using regular expressions.

I’m sure we’ve all used or seen something like this:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  attr_accessible :email

  email_regex = /\A[\w+\-.]+@[a-z\d\-.]+\.[a-z]+\z/i

  validates :email, :presence => true,
                    :format   => { :with => email_regex }

It works, but it uses the evil regex.

####What’s my solution?

David Cellis recently posted how he does it and I thought I’d also provide how I do it as well. I really like David’s solution and also understand that mine is probably overkill but I do feel that mine will catch more invalid e-mails that David’s way misses. I should also point out that I realize that mine is overkill since we all tend to confirm emails with gems like Devise so if someone enters in an incorrect email they’ll figure it out on their own.

The user model:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  validates :email, :presence => true, :email => true

From here I use a custom rails validator which I call app/validators/email_validator.rb.

Here is my validator file:

require 'mail'
class EmailValidator < ActiveModel::EachValidator
  def validate_each(record,attribute,value)
      m =
      r = m.domain && m.address == value
      t = m.__send__(:tree)
      r &&= (t.domain.dot_atom_text.elements.size > 1)
    rescue Exception => e
      r = false
    record.errors[attribute] << (options[:message] || "is invalid") unless r

No regex!

If are not familiar with rails validators they function much the same way as initializers (/config/initializers/) in that rails will load them at startup if they are in your app/validators/ directory. If you want them in another directory such as lib/validators/ which seems to be the convention simply add the following to your config/application.rb file:

config.autoload_paths += %W["#{config.root}/lib/validators/"]