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An Overview of JSP

📄 Contents

  1. Server-Side Scripting and Servlets
  2. JavaServer Pages
  3. The Power of Java
  4. Recap
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In this sample chapter, Damon Hougland and Aaron Tavistock provide an overview of JSP. They discuss server-side scripting and servlets, JavaServer Pages, and the power of Java.
This sample chapter is excerpted from Essential JSP for Web Professionals, by Damon Hougland and Aaron Tavistock.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

While JavaServer Pages™ (JSP) is still a somewhat new technology, the speed at which it is becoming a standard for creating enterprise-class Web applications is amazing. While Java technology has been slowly gaining ground in client/server and standalone applications, with both JSP and Java servlets, Java has become the major platform for large-scale eBusiness applications.

1.1 Server-Side Scripting and Servlets

To better understand why JSP has risen so fast in the realm of Web application development, it is best to have a brief introduction to server-side scripting languages and Java servlets.

1.1.1 Server-Side Scripting Solutions

There are several common scripting solutions to create Web applications. These are scripts that are run on the server before the page is sent to the user.

Netscape's server-side scripting solution is called Server-Side JavaScript (SSJS). In SSJS, JavaScript is executed on the server to modify HTML pages. In SSJS, scripts are precompiled to improve server performance. SSJS is available on several different versions of Netscape Web servers. To learn more about SSJS, go to: http://developer.netscape.com/tech/javascript/ssjs/ssjs.html.

Microsoft servers offer Active Server Pages (ASP). ASP is very similar to JSP. ASP allows developers to embed VBScript or JScript code directly into a Web page. ASP has to be compiled every time it is run, mirroring one of the major drawbacks of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts. ASP is available to developers running Microsoft's Internet Information Server 3.0 or above.

By far, the biggest drawback of the major scripting solutions is their proprietary nature. All of the solutions discussed are dependent on either certain Web servers or specific vendors.

1.1.2 Java Servlets

Java servlets are a powerful alternative to CGI programs and scripting languages. Servlets are extremely similar to proprietary server APIs (application programming interfaces), but because they are written in the Java programming language, they can be easily ported to any environment that supports the Java Servlet API. Since they run in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), they bypass the security problems that affect the server APIs.

Servlets are run inside a servlet engine. Each individual servlet is run as a thread inside a Web server process. This is a much more efficient solution than multiple server processes implemented by CGI programs. By running in threads, servlets are also very scaleable, and as they are a part of the Web server process themselves, they can interact closely with the Web server.

Servlets are extremely powerful replacements for CGI programs. They can be used to extend to any type of server imaginable. The built-in thread and security support make servlets a robust tool for extending a server service.

All major Web servers now support servlets. The major drawback of using Java servlets is in their power. The Java programming language is at once both powerful and complicated, and learning Java is a formidable task for the average Web developer.

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