Servlet Mappings

Servlet Mappings allow you to define certain URL patterns that get directed to a specified servlet. To understand this topic, it is important to understand the components of the URL. Here is a sample URL:


After the name of the server box and the port number of the Web Server, there is some characters (in this case /arbs) that tell the Java App Server what Web Application to associate this request with. This is also called the Web Application's 'context root'. After that is a directory name (in this case /rbsdir - that is a subdirectory of the Web Application), and that is followed by the name of actual file to be served up - whether it is html, JSP, or Servlet.

First a word to clarify by what we mean by Web Application mapping characters, or 'context root', in this case /arbs.  The way a context root for a Web Applicaiton is determined depends on whether or not the Web Application part of an Enterprise Application.

Web Application Not Part of an Enterprise Application
o A Web Application can be in a subdirectory of the root directory of the web applicaitons. In this case its context root is the name of the Web Application's subdirectory.

o One can 'jar' the contents of a Web Application directory into what is called a Web Application Archive (war file). You can put this war file (it has a suffix of .war) in the /jserv directory. In this case its context room is the name of the .war file.

Web Application is Part of an Enterprise Application
o A Web Application can be in a subdirectory of the Enterprise Application root directory (root-ear in our case). Or it can be a .war file in this directory. In either case, it is defined in a file called root-ear/META-INF/application.xml. All the modules in the Enterprise Application are defined in the application.xml file, along with what their context root is. In other words, when a Web Application is part of an Enterprise Application, its context root is defined in the application.xml file for the Enterprise Application.

Only one Web Application can have a context root of "/", as defined in application.xml.

Servlet Mapping Characters
It is the area of the URL after the 'Web Application mapping characters' that we can begin the topic of Servlet Mapping characters. There are two types of Servlet Mapping characters.

For the first example, let's say we want a group of URL's to be handled by a Servlet called Payroll.class. You could say that you want all URL's that begin as follows to be routed to the Servlet called Payroll.class.

Anything after the letters /payroll in the URL are passed as parameters to the Payroll.class Servlet for it to handle. This Servlet mapping definition is put in the web.xml file as follows:


The second type of servlet mapping is for a set of file names. Let's say you want all URL's that end with a file name that end with the characters *.doc to be handled by the Servlet called HandleDocs.class. You would put into the web.xml file the following lines:


In order to have the Servlet Mappings take effect, the Server has to be restarted.

Parenthentically, there are two Servlet Mappings that are built into the Servlet/JSP specification. There are Servlets that are associated with the a url-pattern of /servlet to handle all Servlets, and there is a Servlet that is to be given control whenever the URL ends with a file *.jsp, to handle JSP processing.

Here is an example of the Servlet itself, to which the Servlet Mapping refers:

import javax.servlet.*;
import javax.servlet.http.*;
public class HandleDocs extends HttpServlet{
public void service (ServletRequest req , ServletResponse res) throws IOException
PrintWriter out = res.getWriter();
out.println("This Servlet Can Now Handle Documents<BR>");