The service provided by a servlet is implemented in the service method
of a GenericServlet, in the do`Method methods (where Method can take
the value `Get, Delete, Options, Post, Put, or Trace) of an
HttpServlet object, or in any other protocol-specific methods defined
by a class that implements the Servlet interface. The term service
method is used for any method in a servlet class that provides a service
to a client.
The general pattern for a service method is to extract information from
the request, access external resources, and then populate the response,
based on that information. For HTTP servlets, the correct procedure for
populating the response is to do the following:
Retrieve an output stream from the response.
Fill in the response headers.
Write any body content to the output stream.
Response headers must always be set before the response has been
committed. The web container will ignore any attempt to set or add
headers after the response has been committed. The next two sections
describe how to get information from requests and generate responses.
Getting Information from Requests
A request contains data passed between a client and the servlet. All
requests implement the ServletRequest interface. This interface
defines methods for accessing the following information:
Parameters, which are typically used to convey information between
clients and servlets
Object-valued attributes, which are typically used to pass information
between the web container and a servlet or between collaborating
Information about the protocol used to communicate the request and
about the client and server involved in the request
Information relevant to localization
You can also retrieve an input stream from the request and manually
parse the data. To read character data, use the BufferedReader object
returned by the request’s getReader method. To read binary data, use
the ServletInputStream returned by getInputStream.
HTTP servlets are passed an HTTP request object, HttpServletRequest,
which contains the request URL, HTTP headers, query string, and so on.
An HTTP request URL contains the following parts:
The request path is further composed of the following elements.
Context path: A concatenation of a forward slash (/) with the
context root of the servlet’s web application.
Servlet path: The path section that corresponds to the component alias
that activated this request. This path starts with a forward slash
Path info: The part of the request path that is not part of the
context path or the servlet path.
You can use the getContextPath, getServletPath, and getPathInfo
methods of the HttpServletRequest interface to access this
information. Except for URL encoding differences between the request URI
and the path parts, the request URI is always comprised of the context
path plus the servlet path plus the path info.
Query strings are composed of a set of parameters and values. Individual
parameters are retrieved from a request by using the getParameter
method. There are two ways to generate query strings.
A query string can explicitly appear in a web page.
A query string is appended to a URL when a form with a GET HTTP
method is submitted.
A response contains data passed between a server and the client. All
responses implement the ServletResponse interface. This interface
defines methods that allow you to do the following.
Retrieve an output stream to use to send data to the client. To send
character data, use the PrintWriter returned by the response’s
getWriter method. To send binary data in a Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME) body response, use the ServletOutputStream returned
by getOutputStream. To mix binary and text data, as in a multipart
response, use a ServletOutputStream and manage the character sections
Indicate the content type (for example, text/html) being returned by
the response with the setContentType(String) method. This method must
be called before the response is committed. A registry of content type
names is kept by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) at
Indicate whether to buffer output with the setBufferSize(int)
method. By default, any content written to the output stream is
immediately sent to the client. Buffering allows content to be written
before anything is sent back to the client, thus providing the servlet
with more time to set appropriate status codes and headers or forward to
another web resource. The method must be called before any content is
written or before the response is committed.