Oct 12, 2011

JSP Interview Questions and Answers

Q. How does JSP differ from a desk top application?
A. Desktop applications (e.g. Swing) are presentation-centric, which means when you click a menu item you know which window would be displayed and how it would look. Web applications are resource-centric as opposed to being presentation-centric. Web applications should be thought of as follows: A browser should request from a server a resource (not a page) and depending on the availability of that resource and the model state, server would generate different presentation like a regular “read-only” web page or a form with input controls, or a “page-not-found” message for the requested resource. So think in terms of resources, not pages.

Servlets and JSPs are server-side presentation-tier components managed by the web container within an application server. Web applications make use of HTTP protocol, which is a stateless request-response based paradigm. JSP technology extends the Servlet technology, which means anything you can do with a Servlet you can do with a JSP as well.

Q. Did JSPs make servlets obsolete? 
A. No. JSPs did not make Servlets obsolete. Both Servlets and JSPs are complementary technologies. You can look at the JSP technology from an HTML designer’s perspective as an extension to HTML with embedded dynamic content and from a Java developer’s as an extension of the Java Servlet technology. JSP is commonly used as the presentation layer for combining HTML and Java code. While Java Servlet technology is capable of generating HTML with out.println(“….. ”) statements, where “out” is a PrintWriter. This process of embedding HTML code with escape characters in Servlets is cumbersome and hard to maintain. The JSP technology solves this by providing a level of abstraction so that the developer can use custom tags and action elements, which can speed up Web development and are easier to maintain.

Q. What is a model 0 pattern (i.e. model-less pattern) and why is it not recommended? What is a model-2  or MVC architecture?

Problem: The example shown above is based on a “model 0” (i.e. embedding business logic within JSP) pattern.  The model 0 pattern is fine for a very basic JSP page as shown above.  But real web applications would have business logic, data access logic etc, which would make the above code hard to read, difficult to maintain, difficult to refactor, and untestable. It is also not recommended to embed business logic and data access logic in a JSP page since it is protocol dependent (i.e. HTTP protocol) and makes it unable to be reused elsewhere like a wireless application using a WAP protocol,  a standalone XML based messaging application etc.       

Solution:  You can refactor the processing code containing business logic and data access logic into Java classes, which adhered to certain standards. This approach provides better testability, reuse and reduced the size of the JSP pages.  This is known as the “model 1” pattern where JSPs retain the responsibility of a controller, and view renderer with display logic but delegates the business processing to java classes known as Java Beans. The Java Beans are Java classes, which adhere to following items:

  • Implement or interface.
  • Provide a no-arguments constructor.
  • Private properties must have corresponding getXXX/setXXX methods.

The above model provides a great improvement from the model 0 or model-less pattern, but there are still some problems and limitations.

Problem:  In the model 1 architecture the JSP page is alone responsible for processing the incoming request and replying back to the user. This architecture may be suitable for simple applications, but complex applications will end up with significant amount of Java code embedded within your JSP page, especially when there is significant amount of data processing to be performed.  This is a problem not only for java developers due to design ugliness but also a problem for web designers when you have large amount of Java code in your JSP pages. In many cases, the page receiving the request is not the page, which renders the response as an HTML output because decisions need to be made based on the submitted data to determine the most appropriate page to be displayed.   This would require your pages to be redirected (i.e. sendRedirect (…)) or forwarded to each other resulting in a messy flow of control and design ugliness for the application. So, why should you use a JSP page as a controller, which is mainly designed to be used as a template?       

Solution: You can use the Model 2 architecture (MVC – Model, View, Controller architecture), which is a hybrid approach for serving dynamic content, since it combines the use of both Servlets and JSPs. It takes advantage of the predominant strengths of both technologies where a Servlet is the target for submitting a request and performing flow-control tasks and using JSPs to generate the presentation layer. As shown in the diagram below, the servlet acts as the controller and is responsible for request processing and the creation of any beans or objects used by the JSP as well as deciding, which JSP page to forward or redirect the request to  (i.e. flow control) depending on the data submitted by the user. The JSP page is responsible for retrieving any objects or beans that may have been previously created by the servlet, and as a template for rendering the view as a response to be sent to the user as an HTML.

Q. If you set a request attribute in your JSP, would you be able to access it in your subsequent request within your servlet code?
    [This question can be asked to determine if you understand the request/response paradigm]
A. The answer is no because your request goes out of scope, but if you set a request attribute in your servlet then you would be able to access it in your JSP.

Important: Servlets and JSPs are server side technologies and it is essential to understand the HTTP request/response paradigm. A common misconception is that the Java code embedded in the HTML page is transmitted to the browser with the HTML and executed in the browser. As shown in the diagram above, this is not true. A JSP is a server side component where the page is translated into a Java servlet and executed on the server. The generated servlet (from the JSP) outputs only HTML  code to the browser.  

As shown above in the diagram, if you set a request attribute in your servlet code, it can be retrieved in your JSP code, since it is still in scope. Once the response has been sent back to the user (i.e. the browser) the current request goes out of scope. When the user makes another request, a new request is created and the request attribute set by the JSP code in your previous request is not available to the new request object.  If you set a session attribute in your JSP, then it will be available in your subsequent request because it is still in scope.  You can access it by calling session.getAttribute(“JSPText”).

Note: The above questions and answers are extracted from my book entitled Java/J2EE Job Interview Companion. Only a few JSP questions and answers are shown.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:23 PM, September 07, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good

10:51 PM, February 03, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:19 PM, March 01, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your explanation is very similar to my Professor

1:24 AM, November 11, 2013  
Blogger nasir husain said...

recently asked important servlet interview questions with answer

5:49 PM, September 11, 2014  

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