Friday, January 11, 2008

JSP Interview Questions


How do I prevent the output of my JSP or Servlet pages from being cached by the browser?

A: You will need to set the appropriate HTTP header attributes to prevent the dynamic content output by the JSP page from being cached by the browser. Just execute the following scriptlet at the beginning of your JSP pages to prevent them from being cached at the browser. You need both the statements to take care of some of the older browser versions.


How does JSP handle run-time exceptions?

A: You can use the errorPage attribute of the page directive to have uncaught run-time exceptions automatically forwarded to an error processing page. For example:
<%@ page errorPage=\"error.jsp\" %>
redirects the browser to the JSP page error.jsp if an uncaught exception is encountered during request processing. Within error.jsp, if you indicate that it is an error-processing page, via the directive: <%@ page isErrorPage=\"true\" %> Throwable object describing the exception may be accessed within the error page via the exception implicit object. Note: You must always use a relative URL as the value for the errorPage attribute.


How can I implement a thread-safe JSP page? What are the advantages and Disadvantages of using it?

A: You can make your JSPs thread-safe by having them implement the SingleThreadModel interface. This is done by adding the directive <%@ page isThreadSafe="false" %> within your JSP page. With this, instead of a single instance of the servlet generated for your JSP page loaded in memory, you will have N instances of the servlet loaded and initialized, with the service method of each instance effectively synchronized. You can typically control the number of instances (N) that are instantiated for all servlets implementing SingleThreadModel through the admin screen for your JSP engine. More importantly, avoid using the tag for variables. If you do use this tag, then you should set isThreadSafe to true, as mentioned above. Otherwise, all requests to that page will access those variables, causing a nasty race condition. SingleThreadModel is not recommended for normal use. There are many pitfalls, including the example above of not being able to use <%! %>. You should try really hard to make them thread-safe the old fashioned way: by making them thread-safe .


How do I use a scriptlet to initialize a newly instantiated bean?


A jsp:useBean action may optionally have a body. If the body is specified, its contents will be automatically invoked when the specified bean is instantiated. Typically, the body will contain scriptlets or jsp:setProperty tags to initialize the newly instantiated bean, although you are not restricted to using those alone.

The following example shows the “today” property of the Foo bean initialized to the current date when it is instantiated. Note that here, we make use of a JSP expression within the jsp:setProperty action.

value="<%=java.text.DateFormat.getDateInstance().format(new java.util.Date()) %>" / >

<%-- scriptlets calling bean setter methods go here --%>


What's a better approach for enabling thread-safe servlets and JSPs? SingleThreadModel Interface or Synchronization?

A: Although the SingleThreadModel technique is easy to use, and works well for low volume sites, it does not scale well. If you anticipate your users to increase in the future, you may be better off implementing explicit synchronization for your shared data. The key however, is to effectively minimize the amount of code that is synchronzied so that you take maximum advantage of multithreading.

Also, note that SingleThreadModel is pretty resource intensive from the server\'s perspective. The most serious issue however is when the number of concurrent requests exhaust the servlet instance pool. In that case, all the unserviced requests are queued until something becomes free - which results in poor performance. Since the usage is non-deterministic, it may not help much even if you did add more memory and increased the size of the instance pool.


How can I enable session tracking for JSP pages if the browser has disabled cookies?

A: We know that session tracking uses cookies by default to associate a session identifier with a unique user. If the browser does not support cookies, or if cookies are disabled, you can still enable session tracking using URL rewriting. URL rewriting essentially includes the session ID within the link itself as a name/value pair. However, for this to be effective, you need to append the session ID for each and every link that is part of your servlet response. Adding the session ID to a link is greatly simplified by means of of a couple of methods: response.encodeURL() associates a session ID with a given URL, and if you are using redirection, response.encodeRedirectURL() can be used by giving the redirected URL as input. Both encodeURL() and encodeRedirectedURL() first determine whether cookies are supported by the browser; if so, the input URL is returned unchanged since the session ID will be persisted as a cookie.

Consider the following example, in which two JSP files, say hello1.jsp and hello2.jsp, interact with each other. Basically, we create a new session within hello1.jsp and place an object within this session. The user can then traverse to hello2.jsp by clicking on the link present within the page. Within hello2.jsp, we simply extract the object that was earlier placed in the session and display its contents. Notice that we invoke the encodeURL() within hello1.jsp on the link used to invoke hello2.jsp; if cookies are disabled, the session ID is automatically appended to the URL, allowing hello2.jsp to still retrieve the session object. Try this example first with cookies enabled. Then disable cookie support, restart the brower, and try again. Each time you should see the maintenance of the session across pages. Do note that to get this example to work with cookies disabled at the browser, your JSP engine has to support URL rewriting.

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