The Apache Tomcat Servlet/JSP Container

The Apache Tomcat 5.5 Servlet/JSP Container

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User Guide


Apache Tomcat Development

The Apache Tomcat 5.5 Servlet/JSP Container


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For administrators and web developers alike, there are some important bits of information you should familiarize yourself with before starting out. This document serves as a brief introduction to some of the concepts and terminology behind the Tomcat container. As well, where to go when you need help.


In the course of reading these documents, you'll run across a number of terms; some specific to Tomcat, and others defined by the Servlet or JSP specifications.

  • Context - In a nutshell, a Context is a web application.
  • Term2 - This is it.
  • Term3 - This is it!
Directories and Files

Throughout the docs, you'll notice there are numerous references to $CATALINA_HOME. This represents the root of your Tomcat installation. When we say, "This information can be found in your $CATALINA_HOME/README.txt file" we mean to look at the README.txt file at the root of your Tomcat install.

These are some of the key tomcat directories, all relative to $CATALINA_HOME:

  • /bin - Startup, shutdown, and other scripts. The *.sh files (for Unix systems) are functional duplicates of the *.bat files (for Windows systems). Since the Win32 command-line lacks certain functionality, there are some additional files in here.
  • /conf - Configuration files and related DTDs. The most important file in here is server.xml. It is the main configuration file for the container.
  • /logs - Log files are here by default.
  • /webapps - This is where your webapps go.
Configuring Tomcat

This section will acquaint you with the basic information used during the configuration of the container.

All of the information in the configuration files is read at startup, meaning that any change to the files necessitates a restart of the container.

Where to Go for Help

While we've done our best to ensure that these documents are clearly written and easy to understand, we may have missed something. Provided below are various web sites and mailing lists in case you get stuck.

As Tomcat 5 is a new release of Tomcat, keep in mind that some of the issues and solutions vary between the major versions of Tomcat (4.x versus 5). As you search around the web, there will be some documentation that is not relevant to Tomcat 5, but 3.x and 4.x. Doing 3.x or 4.x things to 5 will probably not work in most cases as the server.xml files are very different.

  • Current document - most documents will list potential hangups. Be sure to fully read the relevant documentation as it will save you much time and effort. There's nothing like scouring the web only to find out that the answer was right in front of you all along!
  • Tomcat FAQ as maintained by the developers.
  • Tomcat WIKI
  • Tomcat FAQ at jGuru
  • Tomcat mailing list archives - numerous sites archive the Tomcat mailing lists. Since the links change over time, clicking here will search Google.
  • The TOMCAT-USER mailing list, which you can subscribe to here. If you don't get a reply, then there's a good chance that your question was probably answered in the list archives or one of the FAQs. Although questions about web application development in general are sometimes asked and answered, please focus your questions on Tomcat-specific issues.
  • The TOMCAT-DEV mailing list, which you can subscribe to here. This list is reserved for discussions about the development of Tomcat itself. Questions about Tomcat configuration, and the problems you run into while developing and running applications, will normally be more appropriate on the TOMCAT-USER list instead.

And, if you think something should be in the docs, by all means let us know on the TOMCAT-DEV list, or send one of the doc authors email.

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