Home > Articles > Programming > Java

Struts Applications and Multilanguage Support

📄 Contents

  1. Options for Multilanguage Support
  2. Moving On
With Struts, you can build an application that can support multiple languages, preserve the MVC pattern, and help you to easily maintain your code. Dirk Bartkowiak discusses the principles of building multiple language support and shows you the enhanced possibilities that you can have with Struts.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

In a world that is getting smaller every day, the software developer's job is changing. Just a few months or years ago, you wrote software for your company that covered only this company's particular location or region. Now that you switched from native applications to a wider range, supporting more than one region and/or country, some of you are switching to J2EE, Web Applications, and (in search of a powerful framework) getting in touch with Struts.

This article introduces you to Struts and shows you how to build an application that can support multiple languages, preserve the MVC pattern, and help you to easily maintain your code. First, I discuss the principles of building multiple language support, including the different choices you have and showing you the enhanced possibilities that you can have with Struts.

Options for Multilanguage Support

There are many opportunities to deliver multiple language support to an application, and each one has positives and negatives.

User's Choice

One of the simplest ways to support more than one language is to provide a set of static HTML pages for each language you want to support. Just consider one HTML page as your starting point for an application and have a link for each language (for example, "Click here to view this site in English").

After this point, you can have separate page sets, but multiple times with the same application logic. If you think about it, it's not very handy for a user because he has to click on a link to only start this particular application. And it's not very friendly for your content team or you as the developer. You would run into the worst-case scenario: maintaining code that is equal in multiple sets of pages or servlets.

Server's Choice

The next step would be: "Hey, the user's browser is adjusted to a particular region; let me think of it. The browser tells me which region and language the user might like to see with every request to my server..."

Let's have a look at the request, sort it out, and redirect the user to the correct set of pages.

One of the neat things that HttpServletRequest provides is a simple way to retrieve the locale that is selected in the user's browser:

java.util.Locale currentLocale = request.getLocale();

Now that you can get the locale, you can let the server automatically redirect the user to the correct set of pages and servlets. But one problem is still present, however: You have to maintain multiple sets of your pages and servlets. Consider the pain that this may cause to a content publisher.


There is an answer to this problem: Struts and its powerful application framework. With Struts, you can support multiple languages at a glance. The Struts framework separates your logic from the presented content, later referred to as messages. You can easily manage your code, develop in a safe way, and stick with the model view controller (MVC) pattern.

Experience Struts

A simple way to let Struts manage your multilanguage needs is to use the standard Tag libraries, which are located in your Struts distribution. There, you can find the <bean:message/> tag. You have to utilize the parameter "key", which tells Struts which message it has to lookup.

To define the keys and the proper messages, you need an ApplicationResourceBundle. For every language you want to support, a single ApplicationResources_xx_XX.properties file is required (where "xx_XX" stands for the specific locale; for example, en_US).

Don't forget to adjust struts-config.xml:

<message-resources parameter="strutsmessagewas4.resources.ApplicationResources"/>

The ApplicationResources.properties itself can be used for messages that are the same for all languages. Make sure that your Resource Bundles are available in the application's class path. A simple example follows:

  1. Include the standard Struts Tag libraries:

  2. <%@ taglib uri="/WEB-INF/struts-html.tld" prefix="html" %>
    <%@ taglib uri="/WEB-INF/struts-bean.tld" prefix="bean" %>
  3. Start the output of your JSP with the following tag:

  4. <html:html locale="true"> 

    Make sure that you pass the attribute locale; otherwise, Struts does not look for the locale that the user's browser passes to the server via its request.

  5. Use bean Tag Library to let the framework generate messages on the JSP:

  6. <bean:message key="view.label.hello"/> 

    This code tells Struts to look up a message identified by "view.label.hello" for the locale stored in the current user's session.

  7. Close your JSP appropriately:

  8. </html:html>
  9. Don't forget to customize the Resource Bundle mentioned above.

That was pretty easy, and a lot of our problems are solved for the moment. We have a solid code base and we don't need to recompile or change the presentation logic when a change to content has to be made. But do we want content publishers to be able to edit files on an application server? Especially when mostly every Web Application accesses database systems? That brings us to the next step: customizing Struts message handling.

Extending MessageResources

Because we cannot tell the default message implementation to use a database for looking up messages, we have to provide our own MessageResources implementation. The minimum you have to do is to create two classes: the MessageResources implementation itself and a factory class that is called to instantiate this.

Let's start with the factory class:

package com.dbt.strutsmessage.model;

public class MessageResourcesFactory extends 
org.apache.struts.util.MessageResourcesFactory {

  * Factory to provide access to MessageResource implementation
  public org.apache.struts.util.MessageResources createResources(String
    configuration) {
    return new MessageResources(this, configuration);

All this class does is expose a factory method that returns an instance of your MessageResources implementation. Ensure that both classes are located in the same package. I did not import org.apache.struts.util.MessageResourcesFactory in order to avoid problems with the class loader.

The second step is to create the MessageResources class. For the smallest implementation, inherit org.apache.struts.util.MessageResources, implement java.io.Serializable, and overwrite public String getMessage(Locale currentLocale, String askedKey) {}.

This is the method that is called by the Struts framework to retrieve a message. Here is where you ask your backend logic for the message, identified by the given key and locale. A good suggestion for separating your business logic and database-specific objects from the Struts presentation layer is to use a singleton ApplicationModel. (You can see download the war-file here.)

The last step is telling Struts to use this implementation instead of the default classes that come with the framework. This can be achieved by two parameters, which are passed to the Struts instance via your web.xml.

Find the section in which the Struts Action servlet is published and add the following:



You have now created your own message handling logic.

Adding a Cache

Every developer knows the good advice for architectures: they should be bullet-proof, reliable, and fast in their execution.

"Only call the datalayer if you can't have it in your cache!"

In this case, we have to call the database every time a page makes use of <bean:message/>. Thinking of the type of data, we can assume that this information is fully cacheable:

private synchronized void cacheLocale(Locale locale) {
  // has some thread already cached, while we are waiting for 
  // for this method?
  if(messageLocales.contains(locale)) {

  String askedLocale = super.localeKey(locale);

  // ask Application for Messages associated to this locale
  Vector Messages = ApplicationModel.

  // store messages in cache
  // ...

For me, the best practice is to check the presence of a set of messages for the current asked locale, at the moment getMessage() is called. If that fails, the application calls cacheLocale(); otherwise, it does not return either the message for this locale, or (if it is not present) the message for the parent of the asked locale.

The interesting thing about cacheLocale() is that you have to be aware that more than one thread may want to call this method because every call to the MessageFactory from within your JSP results in multiple threads in this class. So we should recheck the cache for presence of the asked locale because it's more than obvious that a thread before has cached the locale for us.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020