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What is JSP?

 

Java Server Pages (JSP) is a technology that lets you mix regular, static HTML with dynamically-generated HTML. Many Web pages that are built by CGI programs are mostly static, with the dynamic part limited to a few small locations. But most CGI variations, including servlets, make you generate the entire page via your program, even though most of it is always the same. JSP lets you create the two parts separately. Here's an example:

 



<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML>
<HEAD><TITLE>Welcome to Our Store</TITLE></HEAD>
<BODY>
<H1>Welcome to Our Store</H1>
<SMALL>Welcome,
<!-- User name is "New User" for first-time visitors -->
<% out.println(Utils.getUserNameFromCookie(request)); %> To access your account settings, click
<A href="/Account-Settings.html">here.</A></SMALL>
<P>

Regular HTML for all the rest of the on-line store's Web page.

</BODY></HTML>

 

What are the Advantages of JSP?

 

vs. Active Server Pages (ASP)

 

ASP is a similar technology from Microsoft. The advantages of JSP are twofold. First, the dynamic part is written in Java, not Visual Basic or other MS-specific language, so it is more powerful and easier to use. Second, it is portable to other operating systems and non-Microsoft Web servers.

 

vs. Pure Servlets

 

JSP doesn't give you anything that you couldn't in principle do with a servlet. But it is more convenient to write (and to modify!) regular HTML than to have a zillion println statements that generate the HTML. Plus, by separating the look from the content you can put different people on different tasks: your Web page design experts can build the HTML, leaving places for your servlet programmers to insert the dynamic content.

 

vs. Server-Side Includes (SSI)

 

SSI is a widely-supported technology for including externally-defined pieces into a static Web page. JSP is better because it lets you use servlets instead of a separate program to generate that dynamic part. Besides, SSI is really only intended for simple inclusions, not for "real" programs that use form data, make database connections, and the like.

 

vs. JavaScript

 

JavaScript can generate HTML dynamically on the client. This is a useful capability, but only handles situations where the dynamic information is based on the client's environment. With the exception of cookies, HTTP and form submission data is not available to JavaScript. And, since it runs on the client, JavaScript can't access server-side resources like databases, catalogs, pricing information, and the like.

 

vs. Static HTML

 

Regular HTML, of course, cannot contain dynamic information. JSP is so easy and convenient that it is quite feasible to augment HTML pages that only benefit marginally by the insertion of small amounts of dynamic data. Previously, the cost of using dynamic data would preclude its use in all but the most valuable instances.

 

Finding out more

 

Definitive book is

 

Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages by Marty Hall ISBN 0-13-089340-4

 

As usual the Sun site is also very useful.

 

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