Using jQuery validation plugin with fields in a jQuery UI .dialog()

One issue I ran into while using the jQuery UI library along with the jQuery validation plugin in an ASP.NET page is that when the dialog is created, it’s moved outside of the page’s main form.  jQuery validation requires all fields to be validated to be inside a form, so fields in the dialog won’t validate, plus if you need to have server-side controls inside of that dialog, there’s not a lot you can do to move the dialog or the form. (If you don’t have any server-side controls in the form, read skip further down for an alternate solution) Nested forms aren’t allowed, and ASP.NET throws an error if you put server-side controls outside the main form.  An easy (albeit hacky) solution I found was just to move the dialog and its overlay back inside the form tag after creation:

    open: function (event, ui) {
        $(".ui-widget-overlay”).prependTo(“form”); //moves the overlay
}).parent().appendTo(“form”); //moves the rest of the dialog

Obviously this is highly dependant on the the “ui-widget-overlay” class name in particular, which could change in future releases of jQuery UI so don’t just go copy/pasting this example in a few years and telling me it doesn’t work.  This also assumes you don’t have any other things to validate outside of the dialog, otherwise you’re going to have to use a different solution.

Alternate solution:

As mentioned above, this only works if you don’t have any server-side controls inside the dialog.  It’s pretty obvious in retrospect so I was debating even mentioning it, but I was confused about this at first so perhaps I can help save someone else a little time!  This issue arose because I needed to add another dialog, and of course putting them both inside the same form made them trigger validation events on both dialogs together, so nothing was ever valid!

Solution: move all dialogs outside of the main form tag, and add a form tags inside of each dialog. Validate each form separately, then post the information to a webmethod using AJAX.  That’s it!