A Servlet is a Java class in Java EE that conforms to the Java Servlet API, a protocol by which a Java class may respond to HTTP requests. They are not tied to a specific client-server protocol, but are most often used with this protocol. The word "Servlet" is often used in the meaning of "HTTP Servlet". Thus, a software developer may use a servlet to add dynamic content to a Web server using the Java platform. The generated content is commonly HTML, but may be other data such as XML. Servlets are the Java counterpart to non-Java dynamic Web content technologies such as CGI and ASP.NET. Servlets can maintain state in session variables across many server transactions by using HTTP cookies, or URL rewriting.
The servlet API, contained in the Java package hierarchy
javax.servlet, defines the expected interactions of a Web container and a servlet. A Web container is essentially the component of a Web server that interacts with the servlets. 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.
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 package
javax.servlet.http defines HTTP-specific subclasses of the generic servlet elements, including session management objects that track multiple requests and responses between the Web server and a client. Servlets may be packaged in a WAR file as a Web application.
Servlets can be generated automatically from JavaServer Pages (JSP) by the JavaServer Pages compiler. The difference between Servlets and JSP is that Servlets typically embed HTML inside Java code, while JSPs embed Java code in HTML. While the direct usage of Servlets to generate HTML (as shown in the example below) is relatively rare nowadays, the higher level MVC web framework in Java EE (JSF) 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 flavour of the model-view-controller pattern.
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