Servlets

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What is a Servlet ?

The servlet is a Java programming language class used to process client requests and generate dynamic web content. Servlets are mostly used to process or store data submitted by an HTML form, provide dynamic content and manage state information that does not exist in the stateless HTTP protocol.

Explain the architechure of a Servlet.

The core abstraction that must be implemented by all servlets is the javax.servlet.Servlet interface. Each servlet must implement it either directly or indirectly, either by extending javax.servlet.GenericServlet or javax.servlet.http.HTTPServlet. Finally, each servlet is able to serve multiple requests in parallel using multithreading.

What is the difference between an Applet and a Servlet ?

An Applet is a client side java program that runs within a Web browser on the client machine. On the other hand, a servlet is a server side component that runs on the web server.An applet can use the user interface classes, while a servlet does not have a user interface. Instead, a servlet waits for client’s HTTP requests and generates a response in every request.

What is the difference between GenericServlet and HttpServlet ?

GenericServlet is a generalized and protocol-independent servlet that implements the Servlet and ServletConfig interfaces. Those servlets extending the GenericServlet class shall override the service method. Finally, in order to develop an HTTP servlet for use on the Web that serves requests using the HTTP protocol, your servlet must extend the HttpServlet instead. Check Servlet examples here.

Explain the life cycle of a Servlet.

On every client’s request, the Servlet Engine loads the servlets and invokes its init methods, in order for the servlet to be initialized. Then, the Servlet object handles all subsequent requests coming from that client, by invoking the service method for each request separately. Finally, the servlet is removed by calling the server’s destroy method.

What is the difference between doGet() and doPost() ?

doGET: The GET method appends the name-value pairs on the request’s URL. Thus, there is a limit on the number of characters and subsequently on the number of values that can be used in a client’s request. Furthermore, the values of the request are made visible and thus, sensitive information must not be passed in that way. doPOST: The POST method overcomes the limit imposed by the GET request, by sending the values of the request inside its body. Also, there is no limitations on the number of values to be sent across. Finally, the sensitive information passed through a POST request is not visible to an external client.

What is meant by a Web Application ?

A Web application is a dynamic extension of a Web or application server. There are two types of web applications: presentation-oriented and service-oriented. A presentation-oriented Web application generates interactive web pages, which contain various types of markup language and dynamic content in response to requests. On the other hand, a service-oriented web application implements the endpoint of a web service. In general, a Web application can be seen as a collection of servlets installed under a specific subset of the server’s URL namespace.

What is a Server Side Include (SSI) ?

Server Side Includes (SSI) is a simple interpreted server-side scripting language, used almost exclusively for the Web, and is embedded with a servlet tag. The most frequent use of SSI is to include the contents of one or more files into a Web page on a Web server. When a Web page is accessed by a browser, the Web server replaces the servlet tag in that Web page with the hyper text generated by the corresponding servlet.

What is Servlet Chaining ?

Servlet Chaining is the method where the output of one servlet is sent to a second servlet. The output of the second servlet can be sent to a third servlet, and so on. The last servlet in the chain is responsible for sending the response to the client.

How do you find out what client machine is making a request to your servlet ?

The ServletRequest class has functions for finding out the IP address or host name of the client machine. getRemoteAddr() gets the IP address of the client machine and getRemoteHost() gets the host name of the client machine. See example here.

What is the structure of the HTTP response ?

The HTTP response consists of three parts:

  • Status Code: describes the status of the response. It can be used to check if the request has been successfully completed. In case the request failed, the status code can be used to find out the reason behind the failure. If your servlet does not return a status code, the success status code, HttpServletResponse.SC_OK, is returned by default.
  • HTTP Headers: they contain more information about the response. For example, the headers may specify the date/time after which the response is considered stale, or the form of encoding used to safely transfer the entity to the user. See how to retrieve headers in Servlet here.
  • Body: it contains the content of the response. The body may contain HTML code, an image, etc. The body consists of the data bytes transmitted in an HTTP transaction message immediately following the headers.

What is a cookie ? What is the difference between session and cookie ?

A cookie is a bit of information that the Web server sends to the browser. The browser stores the cookies for each Web server in a local file. In a future request, the browser, along with the request, sends all stored cookies for that specific Web server.The differences between session and a cookie are the following:

  • The session should work, regardless of the settings on the client browser. The client may have chosen to disable cookies. However, the sessions still work, as the client has no ability to disable them in the server side.
  • The session and cookies also differ in the amount of information the can store. The HTTP session is capable of storing any Java object, while a cookie can only store String objects.

Which protocol will be used by browser and servlet to communicate ?

The browser communicates with a servlet by using the HTTP protocol.

What is HTTP Tunneling ?

HTTP Tunneling is a technique by which, communications performed using various network protocols are encapsulated using the HTTP or HTTPS protocols. The HTTP protocol therefore acts as a wrapper for a channel that the network protocol being tunneled uses to communicate. The masking of other protocol requests as HTTP requests is HTTP Tunneling.

What’s the difference between sendRedirect and forward methods ?

The sendRedirect method creates a new request, while the forward method just forwards a request to a new target. The previous request scope objects are not available after a redirect, because it results in a new request. On the other hand, the previous request scope objects are available after forwarding. FInally, in general, the sendRedirect method is considered to be slower compare to the forward method.

What is URL Encoding and URL Decoding ?

The URL encoding procedure is responsible for replacing all the spaces and every other extra special character of a URL, into their corresponding Hex representation. In correspondence, URL decoding is the exact opposite procedure.