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Servlets Interview Questions - 3

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30.What is session?

A session refers to all the requests that a single client might make to a server in the course of viewing any pages associated with a given application. Sessions are specific to both the individual user and the application. As a result, every user of an application has a separate session and has access to a separate set of session variables.


31.What is Session Tracking?

Session tracking is a mechanism that servlets use to maintain state about a series of requests from the same user (that is, requests originating from the same browser) across some period of time.

32.What is the need of Session Tracking in web application?

HTTP is a stateless protocol i.e., every request is treated as new request. For web applications to be more realistic they have to retain information across multiple requests. Such information which is part of the application is reffered as "state". To keep track of this state we need session tracking.

Typical example: Putting things one at a time into a shopping cart, then checking out--each page request must somehow be associated with previous requests.

33.What are the types of Session Tracking ?

Sessions need to work with all web browsers and take into account the users security preferences. Therefore there are a variety of ways to send and receive the identifier:

  • URL rewriting : URL rewriting is a method of session tracking in which some extra data (session ID) is appended at the end of each URL. This extra data identifies the session. The server can associate this session identifier with the data it has stored about that session. This method is used with browsers that do not support cookies or where the user has disabled the cookies.

  • Hidden Form Fields : Similar to URL rewriting. The server embeds new hidden fields in every dynamically generated form page for the client. When the client submits the form to the server the hidden fields identify the client.

  • Cookies : Cookie is a small amount of information sent by a servlet to a Web browser. Saved by the browser, and later sent back to the server in subsequent requests. A cookie has a name, a single value, and optional attributes. A cookie's value can uniquely identify a client.

  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Sessions : Web browsers that support Secure Socket Layer communication can use SSL's support via HTTPS for generating a unique session key as part of the encrypted conversation.

Learn more about Session Tracking      

34.How do I use cookies to store session state on the client?

In a servlet, the HttpServletResponse and HttpServletRequest objects passed to method HttpServlet.service() can be used to create cookies on the client and use cookie information transmitted during client requests. JSPs can also use cookies, in scriptlet code or, preferably, from within custom tag code.

  • To set a cookie on the client, use the addCookie() method in class HttpServletResponse. Multiple cookies may be set for the same request, and a single cookie name may have multiple values.
  • To get all of the cookies associated with a single HTTP request, use the getCookies() method of class HttpServletRequest

35.What are some advantages of storing session state in cookies?
  • Cookies are usually persistent, so for low-security sites, user data that needs to be stored long-term (such as a user ID, historical information, etc.) can be maintained easily with no server interaction.
  • For small- and medium-sized session data, the entire session data (instead of just the session ID) can be kept in the cookie.

36.What are some disadvantages of storing session state in cookies?
  • Cookies are controlled by programming a low-level API, which is more difficult to implement than some other approaches.
  • All data for a session are kept on the client. Corruption, expiration or purging of cookie files can all result in incomplete, inconsistent, or missing information.
  • Cookies may not be available for many reasons: the user may have disabled them, the browser version may not support them, the browser may be behind a firewall that filters cookies, and so on. Servlets and JSP pages that rely exclusively on cookies for client-side session state will not operate properly for all clients. Using cookies, and then switching to an alternate client-side session state strategy in cases where cookies aren't available, complicates development and maintenance.
  • Browser instances share cookies, so users cannot have multiple simultaneous sessions.
  • Cookie-based solutions work only for HTTP clients. This is because cookies are a feature of the HTTP protocol. Notice that the while package javax.servlet.http supports session management (via class HttpSession), package javax.servlet has no such support.

37.What is URL rewriting?

URL rewriting is a method of session tracking in which some extra data is appended at the end of each URL. This extra data identifies the session. The server can associate this session identifier with the data it has stored about that session.

Every URL on the page must be encoded using method HttpServletResponse.encodeURL(). Each time a URL is output, the servlet passes the URL to encodeURL(), which encodes session ID in the URL if the browser isn't accepting cookies, or if the session tracking is turned off.
E.g., http://abc/path/index.jsp;jsessionid=123465hfhs

  • URL rewriting works just about everywhere, especially when cookies are turned off.
  • Multiple simultaneous sessions are possible for a single user. Session information is local to each browser instance, since it's stored in URLs in each page being displayed. This scheme isn't foolproof, though, since users can start a new browser instance using a URL for an active session, and confuse the server by interacting with the same session through two instances.
  • Entirely static pages cannot be used with URL rewriting, since every link must be dynamically written with the session state. It is possible to combine static and dynamic content, using (for example) templating or server-side includes. This limitation is also a barrier to integrating legacy web pages with newer, servlet-based pages.

  • Every URL on a page which needs the session information must be rewritten each time a page is served. Not only is this expensive computationally, but it can greatly increase communication overhead.
  • URL rewriting limits the client's interaction with the server to HTTP GETs, which can result in awkward restrictions on the page.
  • URL rewriting does not work well with JSP technology.
  • If a client workstation crashes, all of the URLs (and therefore all of the data for that session) are lost.

38.How can an existing session be invalidated?

An existing session can be invalidated in the following two ways:

  • Setting timeout in the deployment descriptor: This can be done by specifying timeout between the <session-timeout>tags as follows:
  • <session-config>

    This will set the time for session timeout to be ten minutes.

  • Setting timeout programmatically: This will set the timeout for a specific session. The syntax for setting the timeout programmatically is as follows:
  • public void setMaxInactiveInterval(int interval)
    The setMaxInactiveInterval() method sets the maximum time in seconds before a session becomes invalid.
    Note :Setting the inactive period as negative(-1), makes the container stop tracking session, i.e, session never expires.

39.How can the session in Servlet can be destroyed?

An existing session can be destroyed in the following two ways:

  • Programatically : Using session.invalidate() method, which makes the container abonden the session on which the method is called.
  • When the server itself is shutdown.

40.A client sends requests to two different web components. Both of the components access the session. Will they end up using the same session object or different session ?

Creates only one session i.e., they end up with using same session .

Sessions is specific to the client but not the web components. And there is a 1-1 mapping between client and a session.

41.What is servlet lazy loading?
  • A container doesnot initialize the servlets ass soon as it starts up, it initializes a servlet when it receives a request for that servlet first time. This is called lazy loading.
  • The servlet specification defines the <load-on-startup> element, which can be specified in the deployment descriptor to make the servlet container load and initialize the servlet as soon as it starts up.
  • The process of loading a servlet before any request comes in is called preloading or preinitializing a servlet.

42.What is Servlet Chaining?

Servlet Chaining is a method where the output of one servlet is piped into a second servlet. The output of the second servlet could be piped into a third servlet, and so on. The last servlet in the chain returns the output to the Web browser.

43.How are filters?

Filters are Java components that are used to intercept an incoming request to a Web resource and a response sent back from the resource. It is used to abstract any useful information contained in the request or response. Some of the important functions performed by filters are as follows:

  • Security checks
  • Modifying the request or response
  • Data compression
  • Logging and auditing
  • Response compression

Filters are configured in the deployment descriptor of a Web application. Hence, a user is not required to recompile anything to change the input or output of the Web application.

44.What are the functions of an intercepting filter?

The functions of an intercepting filter are as follows:

  • It intercepts the request from a client before it reaches the servlet and modifies the request if required.
  • It intercepts the response from the servlet back to the client and modifies the request if required.
  • There can be many filters forming a chain, in which case the output of one filter becomes an input to the next filter. Hence, various modifications can be performed on a single request and response.
Intercepting Filter.gif

45.What are the functions of the Servlet container?

The functions of the Servlet container are as follows:

  • Lifecycle management : It manages the life and death of a servlet, such as class loading, instantiation, initialization, service, and making servlet instances eligible for garbage collection.
  • Communication support : It handles the communication between the servlet and the Web server.
  • Multithreading support : It automatically creates a new thread for every servlet request received. When the Servlet service() method completes, the thread dies.
  • Declarative security : It manages the security inside the XML deployment descriptor file.
  • JSP support : The container is responsible for converting JSPs to servlets and for maintaining them.

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