Introduction to Java web application & Servlets
In this article let’s us learn about how the communication happens in a web world.
Client: In case of web application, web browser acts as client through which a user sends a request to server.
Server: A server is a combination of a hardware machines and a number of software’s running on that machine. The duty of server is to serve resources that are being requested by the client.
Servers itself are capable of serving static resources only.
Inorder to communicate between client and server we need some set of rules so called http (Hyper text transfer protocol). In web there are a number of protocols other than http that does the communication work done, but almost in 99% of applications the requests being made are http requests.
Http: Http can be assumed as a common interface of interaction that both client and server understand.
HTTP is a stateless protocol i.e. HTTP supports only one request per connection. This means that with HTTP the clients connects to the server to send one request and then disconnects. This mechanism allows more users to connect to a given server over a period of time.
Web flow starts when a request is made by user via browser (client), this request is made as http request so that server can understand it. The server receives the request, finds the resources and return response to the client in form of HTTP. When a server answers a request the server usually sends some type of content to the client. The server often sends responds to the browser with a set of instructions written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). All browsers know how to display HTML page to the user.
Http Request: Http requests basically have three major components.
1 – HTTP method, there are 7 methods defined in java servlets but most of the time you will see either a get or post method.
2 – The requested page URL, the page to access like www.fb.com.
3 – Parameters, parameters (as userName, password… etc.) are being send as part of request on which the response is being generated.
Http Response: Http requests basically have three major components.
1 – A status code, this code tells the browser whether the request is successful or not.
2 – Content type, it tells the browser about the type of content that response web page contains in it (text, picture, html…etc).
3 – The content is the information that is served as response that the user was requested.
So far we are familiar with the request-response cycle and client-server model over the web.
So here, where the Servlet does come into the picture?
Let’s assume a user requests a page having some text information written on some topic. This page content is never going to change and the same page is sent back to every user request.
But if a user requests to access his facebook account, this time server needs to create a page of that user’s information based on username and password provided by the user. Here the username and password are called parameters and the response is being generated dynamically based on user’s request parameter are called dynamic pages.
As I said before that the server can serve only static pages as response, so in case if we need to serve dynamic pages then server must have something that provides dynamic contents to serve and this can be done via servlets. Servlets are nothing but helper applications that helps the server to response back dynamic pages.
We shall learn about how these servlets helps server in serving dynamic contents in our upcoming tutorials. In our next article we shall learn about Servlet Architecture.