Jakarta Servlet

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Original author(s)Pavni Diwanji
Developer(s)Eclipse Foundation
Initial releaseDecember 1996; 27 years ago (1996-12)
Stable release
6.0 / May 31, 2022; 2 years ago (2022-05-31)
Written inJava
PlatformJakarta EE
Size2.56 MB
TypeSoftware component for Web API
LicenseEclipse Public License
Life of a JSP file

A Jakarta Servlet, formerly Java Servlet is a Java software component that extends the capabilities of a server. Although servlets can respond to many types of requests, they most commonly implement web containers for hosting web applications on web servers and thus qualify as a server-side servlet web API. Such web servlets are the Java counterpart to other dynamic web content technologies such as PHP and ASP.NET.


A Jakarta Servlet is a Java class[1] in Jakarta EE that conforms to the Jakarta Servlet API,[2] a standard for implementing Java classes that respond to requests. Servlets could in principle communicate over any client–server protocol, but they are most often used with HTTP. In principle, any servlets can extend the GenericServlet class; however, realistically speaking, all servlets extend the HttpServlet class.[3] Thus "servlet" is often used as shorthand for "HTTP servlet".[4] Thus, a servlet can be used to add dynamic content to a web server using the Java platform.[5] The generated content is commonly HTML, but may be other data such as XML and more commonly, JSON.

The Jakarta Servlet API has, to some extent, been superseded[citation needed] by two standard Java technologies for web services:

A Servlet is an object that receives a request and generates a response based on that request. The basic Servlet package defines Java objects to represent servlet requests and responses, as well as objects to reflect the servlet's configuration parameters and execution environment.

The Servlet API, contained in the Java package hierarchy javax.servlet, defines the expected interactions of the web container and a servlet.[4]

The package javax.servlet.http defines HTTP-specific subclasses of the GenericServlet. This package includes session management objects that track multiple requests and responses between the web server and a client.

Servlets can maintain state in session variables across many server transactions by using HTTP cookies, or URL mapping. The application can keep track of session and cookies by using sessions and cookies.[6] There are several ways for creating and URL mapping for a servlet. Before servlet 3.0 specification (Tomcat 7.0), configuring the web.xml to map a servlet to a URL was the only option. For applications using the servlet 3.0 specification or later, the @WebServlet annotation can be used to map any servlet to one or more URL patterns.

Servlets may be packaged in a WAR file as a web application.[7]

A web container is required for deploying and running a servlet. A web container (also known as a servlet container) is essentially the component of a web server that interacts with the servlets.[1] The web container is responsible for managing the lifecycle of servlets, mapping a URL to a particular servlet and ensuring that the URL requester has the correct access rights.

Servlets can be generated automatically from Jakarta Server Pages (JSP) by the Jakarta Server Pages compiler. The difference between servlets and JSP is that servlets typically embed HTML inside Java code, while JSPs embed Java code in HTML. In general, when using JSPs, embedding Java code in JSP is considered bad practice.[8] Instead, a better approach would be to move the back-end logic from the JSP to the Java code in the Servlet.[8] This ensures that the Servlet is only responsible for processing, and the JSP is only responsible for presenting the HTML,[8] allowing for a clear separation of concerns and conformance to the single-responsibility principle.

While the direct usage of servlets to generate HTML (as shown in the example below) has become rare, the higher level MVC web framework in Jakarta EE (Faces) still explicitly uses the servlet technology for the low level request/response handling via the FacesServlet.

A somewhat older usage is to use servlets in conjunction with JSPs in a pattern called "Model 2", which is a flavor of the model–view–controller.


The Java Servlet API was first publicly announced at the inaugural JavaOne conference in May 1996.[9][10] About two months after the announcements at the conference, the first public implementation was made available on the JavaSoft website. This was the first alpha of the Java Web Server (JWS; then known by its codename Jeeves)[11] which would eventually be shipped as a product on June 5, 1997.[12]

In his blog on java.net, Sun veteran and GlassFish lead Jim Driscoll details the history of servlet technology.[13] James Gosling first thought of servlets in the early days of Java, but the concept did not become a product until December 1996 when Sun shipped JWS.[14][15][16] This was before what is now the Jakarta EE was made into a specification.

The Servlet1 specification was created by Pavni Diwanji[17][18] while she worked at Sun Microsystems, with version 1.0 finalized in June 1997. Starting with version 2.2, the specification was developed under the Java Community Process.

Servlet API history
Servlet API version Released Specification Platform Important Changes
Jakarta Servlet 6.0 May 31, 2022 6.0 Jakarta EE 10 remove deprecated features and implement requested enhancements
Jakarta Servlet 5.0 Oct 9, 2020 5.0 Jakarta EE 9 API moved from package javax.servlet to jakarta.servlet
Jakarta Servlet 4.0.3 Sep 10, 2019 4.0 Jakarta EE 8 Renamed from "Java" trademark
Java Servlet 4.0 Sep 2017 JSR 369 Java EE 8 HTTP/2
Java Servlet 3.1 May 2013 JSR 340 Java EE 7 Non-blocking I/O, HTTP protocol upgrade mechanism (WebSocket)[19]
Java Servlet 3.0 December 2009 JSR 315 Java EE 6, Java SE 6 Pluggability, Ease of development, Async Servlet, Security, File Uploading
Java Servlet 2.5 September 2005 JSR 154 Java EE 5, Java SE 5 Requires Java SE 5, supports annotation
Java Servlet 2.4 November 2003 JSR 154 J2EE 1.4, J2SE 1.3 web.xml uses XML Schema
Java Servlet 2.3 August 2001 JSR 53 J2EE 1.3, J2SE 1.2 Addition of Filter
Java Servlet 2.2 August 1999 JSR 902, JSR 903 J2EE 1.2, J2SE 1.2 Becomes part of J2EE, introduced independent web applications in .war files
Java Servlet 2.1 November 1998 2.1a Unspecified First official specification, added RequestDispatcher, ServletContext
Java Servlet 2.0 December 1997 JDK 1.1 Part of April 1998 Java Servlet Development Kit 2.0[20]
Java Servlet 1.0 December 1996 Part of June 1997 Java Servlet Development Kit (JSDK) 1.0[14]

Life cycle of a servlet

Three methods are central to the life cycle of a servlet. These are init(), service(), and destroy(). They are implemented by every servlet and are invoked at specific times by the server.

  • During initialization stage of the servlet life cycle, the web container initializes the servlet instance by calling the init() method,[21] passing an object implementing the javax.servlet.ServletConfig interface. This configuration object allows the servlet to access name-value initialization parameters from the web application.
  • After initialization, the servlet instance can service client requests. Each request is serviced in its own separate thread. The web container calls the service() method of the servlet for every request. The service() method determines the kind of request being made and dispatches it to an appropriate method to handle the request. The developer of the servlet must provide an implementation for these methods. If a request is made for a method that is not implemented by the servlet, the method of the parent class is called, typically resulting in an error being returned to the requester.
  • Finally, the web container calls the destroy() method that takes the servlet out of service. The destroy() method, like init(), is called only once in the lifecycle of a servlet.

The following is a typical user scenario of these methods.

  1. Assume that a user requests to visit a URL.
    • The browser then generates an HTTP request for this URL.
    • This request is then sent to the appropriate server.
  2. The HTTP request is received by the web server and forwarded to the servlet container.
    • The container maps this request to a particular servlet.
    • The servlet is dynamically retrieved and loaded into the address space of the container.
  3. The container invokes the init() method of the servlet.
    • This method is invoked only when the servlet is first loaded into memory.
    • It is possible to pass initialization parameters to the servlet so that it may configure itself.
  4. The container invokes the service() method of the servlet.
    • This method is called to process the HTTP request.
    • The servlet may read data that has been provided in the HTTP request.
    • The servlet may also formulate an HTTP response for the client.
  5. The servlet remains in the container's address space and is available to process any other HTTP requests received from clients.
    • The service() method is called for each HTTP request.
  6. The container may, at some point, decide to unload the servlet from its memory.
    • The algorithms by which this decision is made are specific to each container.
  7. The container calls the servlet's destroy() method to relinquish any resources such as file handles that are allocated for the servlet; important data may be saved to a persistent store.
  8. The memory allocated for the servlet and its objects can then be garbage collected.


The following example servlet prints how many times its service() method was called.

Note that HttpServlet is a subclass of GenericServlet, an implementation of the Servlet interface.

The service() method of HttpServlet class dispatches requests to the methods doGet(), doPost(), doPut(), doDelete(), and so on; according to the HTTP request. In the example below service() is overridden and does not distinguish which HTTP request method it serves.

import java.io.IOException;

import jakarta.servlet.ServletConfig;
import jakarta.servlet.ServletException;
import jakarta.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import jakarta.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import jakarta.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

public class ServletLifeCycleExample extends HttpServlet {
    private Integer sharedCounter;

    public void init(final ServletConfig config) throws ServletException {
        getServletContext().log("init() called");
        sharedCounter = 0;

    protected void service(final HttpServletRequest request, final HttpServletResponse response) throws ServletException, IOException {
        getServletContext().log("service() called");
        int localCounter;
        synchronized (sharedCounter) {
            localCounter = sharedCounter;
        response.getWriter().write("Incrementing the count to " + localCounter);  // accessing a local variable
        response.getWriter().flush();   // flush response

    public void destroy() {
        getServletContext().log("destroy() called");

Container servers

The specification for Servlet technology has been implemented in many products. See a list of implementations on the web container page.

There are also other types of servlet containers such as those for SIP servlets, e.g., SailFin.


  1. ^ a b Murach & Urban 2014, pp. 170–171, §2 Essential servlet and JSP skills - Perspective - Summary.
  2. ^ "Servlet (Java(TM) EE 7 Specification APIs)". oracle.com. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  3. ^ Murach & Urban 2014, pp. 128–129, §2 Essential servlet and JSP skills - How to create and map a servlet.
  4. ^ a b "Servlet Essentials - Chapter 1". novocode.com. Archived from the original on 2017-12-18.
  5. ^ Murach & Urban 2014, pp. 40–42, §1 Get started right - The servlet for back-end processing.
  6. ^ Murach & Urban 2014, p. 87, §2 Essential servlet and JSP skills.
  7. ^ Murach & Urban 2014, p. 74, §1 Get started right - Other skills for working with web applications.
  8. ^ a b c Murach & Urban 2014, pp. 46–47, §1 Get started right - The JSP for the second page.
  9. ^ Freedman, Matt (June 26, 1996). "JavaOne conference report". JavaWorld. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  10. ^ Diwanji, Pavani; Connelly, Dave; Wagle, Prasad (May 29, 1996). "Java Server and Servlets" (PDF). Servers and Server Extensions. JavaOne 1996. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2000-08-16. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  11. ^ Chang, Phil Inje (July 1, 1997). "Interview: The Java Web Server team gives you the skinny". JavaWorld. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  12. ^ Chang, Phil Inje (June 1, 1997). "Java Web Server ships!". JavaWorld. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  13. ^ "Servlet History | community.oracle.com". Weblogs.java.net. 2005-12-10. Archived from the original on 2020-08-15. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
  14. ^ a b Hunter, Jason (March 2000). "Servlet Timeline". Beyond Java Servlet Programming. O'Reilly Conference on Java. O'Reilly Media.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Java Web Server". Javasoft. Sun Microsystems. Archived from the original on 1998-01-11. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  16. ^ "Java Web Server(tm)". Sun Microsystems. Archived from the original on 2002-02-06. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  17. ^ "Pavni Diwanji". Family Online Safety Institute. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  18. ^ US patent 5928323, Gosling, James A.; Diwanji, Pavni & Connelly, David W., "Apparatus and method for dynamically generating information with server-side software objects", published 1999-07-27, issued 1999-07-27, assigned to Sun Microsystems 
  19. ^ "What's new in Servlet 3.1 ? - Java EE 7 moving forward (Arun Gupta, Miles to go ...)". oracle.com. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  20. ^ Crawford, William; Hunter, Jason (November 1998). "Preface". Java Servlet Programming (1st ed.). O'Reilly Media. p. ix–x. ISBN 978-1-56592-391-1. We cover Version 2.0 of the Servlet API, which was introduced as part of the Java Web Server 1.1 in December 1997 and clarified by the release of the Java Servlet Development Kit 2.0 in April 1998.
  21. ^ Murach & Urban 2014, pp. 160–163, §15 How to develop servlet - More skills for working with servlets.


External links