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14.7 Including or Manipulating the Tag Body Multiple Times

Rather than just including or processing the body of the tag a single time, you sometimes want to do so more than once. The ability to support multiple body inclusion lets you define a variety of iteration tags that repeat JSP fragments a variable number of times, repeat them until a certain condition occurs, and so forth. This section shows you how to build such tags.

The Tag Handler Class

Tags that process the body content multiple times should start by extending BodyTagSupport and implementing doStartTag, doEndTag, and, most importantly, doAfterBody as before. The difference lies in the return value of doAfterBody. If this method returns EVAL_BODY_TAG, the tag body is evaluated again, resulting in a new call to doAfterBody. This process continues until doAfterBody returns SKIP_BODY.

Listing 14.19 defines a tag that repeats the body content the number of times specified by the reps attribute. Since the body content can contain JSP (which gets made into servlet code at page translation time but invoked at request time), each repetition does not necessarily result in the same output to the client.

Listing 14.19 RepeatTag.java

package coreservlets.tags;

import javax.servlet.jsp.*;
import javax.servlet.jsp.tagext.*;
import java.io.*;

/** A tag that repeats the body the specified
 * number of times.

public class RepeatTag extends BodyTagSupport {
 private int reps;

 public void setReps(String repeats) {
  try {
   reps = Integer.parseInt(repeats);
  } catch(NumberFormatException nfe) {
   reps = 1;
 public int doAfterBody() {
  if (reps-- >= 1) {
   BodyContent body = getBodyContent();
   try {
    JspWriter out = body.getEnclosingWriter();
    body.clearBody(); // Clear for next evaluation
   } catch(IOException ioe) {
    System.out.println("Error in RepeatTag: " + ioe);
  } else {

The Tag Library Descriptor File

Listing 14.20 shows a TLD file that gives the name csajsp:repeat to the tag just defined. To accommodate request time values in the reps attribute, the file uses an rtexprvalue element (enclosing a value of true) within the attribute element.

Listing 14.20 csajsp-taglib.tld

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
<!DOCTYPE taglib
 PUBLIC "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD JSP Tag Library 1.1//EN"

<!-- a tag library descriptor -->

 <!-- after this the default space is

  A tag library from Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages,

 <!-- Other tags defined earlier... -->

  <info>Repeats body the specified number of times.</info>
   <!-- rtexprvalue indicates whether attribute
      can be a JSP expression. -->


The JSP File

Listing 14.21 shows a JSP document that creates a numbered list of prime numbers. The number of primes in the list is taken from the request time repeats parameter. Figure 14–8 shows one possible result.

Listing 14.21 RepeatExample.jsp

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<TITLE>Some 40-Digit Primes</TITLE>

<H1>Some 40-Digit Primes</H1>
Each entry in the following list is the first prime number 
higher than a randomly selected 40-digit number.

<%@ taglib uri="csajsp-taglib.tld" prefix="csajsp" %>

<!-- Repeats N times. A null reps value means repeat once. -->
<csajsp:repeat reps='<%= request.getParameter("repeats") %>'>
 <LI><csajsp:prime length="40" />


Figure 14–8 Result of RepeatExample.jsp when accessed with a repeats parameter of 20.

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