Say I have a record defining a foreign key relationship which is set to required, such as:

public function defineRelations()
    return [
        'type' => [
            'required' => true,
            'onDelete' => static::CASCADE

If I try to save the record with typeId not set I'll eventually get a database exception but the error won't show up if I call $record->validate().

How do I make a relationship fail validation?

2 Answers 2


Yii/Active Record won't do this by default. You'd need to manually add an exists validation rule to the typeId attribute to get it to behave like you're looking for.

  • 1
    Thanks Brad. I have that working now. If I wanted to add the code to this the question to help others, what's the etiquette? Do I update my question or add my own answer? Sep 5, 2016 at 10:42
  • @JamiePittock I'd go ahead and request that Brad update his answer to include more details and add your own answer with the example that worked for you. As a reader, I'd vote up the answer with an explicit example and like the separation of question and answer so answers can be voted up independently. Sep 5, 2016 at 14:31
  • @BenParizek Yeah, on mobile. I can update it when I'm back at a real computer or feel free to add a separate answer Jamie because there's a 90% chance I'll forget, too.
    – Brad Bell
    Sep 5, 2016 at 15:19
  • Thanks guys. I've posted a separate answer. It was a bit trial and error to figure out but hopefully it'll help the next person looking. Sep 5, 2016 at 16:24

Thanks to Brad for pointing me in the right direction.

I added this rules method to my record.

public function rules()
   $rules = parent::rules();

   $rules[] = [
       'allowEmpty' => false,
       'attributeName' => 'id',
       'className' => 'Craft\Events_EventTypeRecord',
       'message' => 'You must enter a valid type'

   return $rules;

exist is a shortcut to Yii's built-in CExistValidator validator. The other key => value pairs are properties of that built-in validator.

You could also do it as a separate validator class. Something like:

<?php namespace Craft;

use CExistValidator;

class Events_EventTypeExistValidator extends CExistValidator

    public function validateAttribute($object,$attribute)
        $this->message = "You must enter a type";
        $this->allowEmpty = false;
        $this->attributeName = 'id';
        $this->className = 'Craft\Events_EventTypeRecord';


If you did it this way your record's rules method would include:

public function rules()
   $rules = parent::rules();

   $rules[] = ['typeId', 'Craft\Events_EventTypeExistValidator'];

   return $rules;

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