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Using Recital with Apache Tomcat

In this article Chris Mavin, explains and details how to use the Recital Database Server with the Open Source Servlet Container Apache Tomcat.

Overview

PHP has exploded on the Internet, but its not the only way to create web applications and dynamic websites. Using Java Servlets, JavaServer Pages and Apache Tomcat you can develop web applications in a more powerful full featured Object Oriented Language, that is easier to debug, maintain, and improve.

Tomcat Installation

There are a number of popular Java application servers such as IBM Web Sphere and BEA WebLogic but today we will be talking about the use of Apache Tomcat 5, the Open Source implementation of the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages technologies developed at the Apache Software Foundation. The Tomcat Servlet engine is the official reference implementation for both the Servlet and JSP specifications, which are developed by Sun under the Java Community Process. What this means is that the Tomcat Server implements the Servlet and JSP specifications as well or better than most commercial application servers.

Apache Tomcat is available for free but offers many of the same features that commercially available Web application containers boast.

Tomcat 5 supports the latest Servlet and JSP specifications, Servlet 2.4, and JSP 2.0, along with features such as:

  • Tomcat can run as a standalone webserver or a Servlet/JSP engine for other Web Servers.

  • Multiple connectors - for enabling multiple protocol handlers to access the same Servlet engine.

  • JNDI - The Java Naming and Domain Interface is supported.

  • Realms - Databases of usernames and passwords that identify valid users of a web application.

  • Virtual hosts - a single server can host applications for multiple domain names. You need to edit server.xml to configure virtual hosts.

  • Valve chains.

  • JDBC - Tomcat can be configured to use any JDBC driver.

  • DBCP - Tomcat can use the Apache commons DBCP for connection pooling.

  • Servlet reloading (Tomcat monitors any changes to the classes deployed within that web server.)

  • HTTP functionality - Tomcat functions as a fully featured Web Server.

  • JMX, JSP and Struts-based administration.

Tomcat Installation

In this next two sections we will walk through the install and setup of Tomcat for use with the Recital database server.

To download Tomcat visit the Apache Tomcat web site is at http://jakarta.apache.org/tomcat.
Follow the download links to the binary for the hardware and operating system you require.

For Tomcat to function fully you need a full Java Development Kit (JDK). If you intend to simply run pre compiled JavaServer pages you can do so using just the Java Runtime Environment(JRE).

The JDK 1.5 is the preferred Java install to work with Tomcat 5, although it is possible to run Tomcat 5 with JDK 1.4 but you will have to download and install the compat archive available from the Tomcat website.

For the purpose of this article we will be downloading and using Tomcat 5 for Linux and JDK 5.0, 
you can download the JDK at http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp.

Now we have the JDK, if the JAVA_HOME environment variable isn't set we need to set it to refer to the base JDK install directory.

Linux/Unix:
$ JAVA_HOME= /usr/lib/j2se/1.4/
$ EXPORT $JAVA_HOME
Windows NT/2000/XP:

Follow the following steps:

1. Open Control Panel.
2. Click the System icon.
3. Go to the Advanced tab.
4. Click the Environment Variables button.
5. Add the JAVA_HOME variable into the system environment variables.


The directory structure of a Tomcat installation comprises of the following:

/bin 			- Contains startup, shutdown and other scripts. 
	/common  	- Common classes that the container and web applications can use.
	/conf 		- Contains Tomcat XML configuration files XML files.
	/logs 		- Serlvet container and application logs.
	/server 		- Classes used only by the Container.
	/shared 		- Classes shared by all web application.
	/webapps 	- Directory containing the web applications.
	/work 		- Temporary directory for files and directories.

The important files that you should know about are the following:

  • server.xml

The Tomcat Server main configuration file is the [tomcat install path]\conf\server.xml file. This file is mostly setup correctly for general use. It is within this file where you specify the port you wish to be running the server on. Later in this article I show you how to change the default port used from 8080 to port 80.

  • web.xml

The web.xml file provides the configuration for your web applications. There are two locations where the web.xml file is used, 
web-inf\web.xml provides individual web application configurations and [tomcat install path]conf\web.xml contains the server wide configuration.

Setting up Tomcat for use

We'll start by changing the port that Tomcat will be listening on to 80.

To do this we need to edit [tomcat install path]/conf/server.xml and change the port attribute of the connector element from 8080 to 80.

After you have made the alteration the entry should read as:

<!-- Define a non-SSL HTTP/1.1 Connector on port 8080 -->
<Connector port="80" maxHttpHeaderSize="8192"

Next we want to turn on Servlet reloading, this will cause the web application to be recompiled each time it is accessed, allowing us to make changes to the files without having to worry about if the page is being recompiled or not.

To enable this you need to edit [tomcat install path]/conf/context.xml and change <Context> element to <Context reloadable="true">.

After you have made the alteration the entry should read as:

<Context reloadable="true">
<WatchedResource>WEB-INF/web.xml</WatchedResource>
</Context>

Next we want to enable the invoker Servlet.

The "invoker" Servlet executes anonymous Servlet classes that have not been defined in a web.xml file.  Traditionally, this Servlet is mapped to the URL pattern "/servlet/*", but you can map it to other patterns as well.  The extra path info portion of such a request must be the fully qualified class name of a Java class that implements Servlet, or the Servlet name of an existing Servlet definition.

To enable the invoker Servlet you need to edit the to [tomcat install path]/conf/web.xml and uncomment the Servlet and Servlet-mapping elements that map the invoker /servlet/*.

After you have made the alteration the entry should read as:

<servlet>
<servlet-name>invoker</servlet-name>
<servlet-class>org.apache.catalina.servlets.InvokerServlet</servlet-class>
<init-param>
<param-name>debug</param-name>
<param-value>0</param-value>
</init-param>
<load-on-startup>2</load-on-startup>
</servlet>

<servlet-mapping>
<servlet-name>invoker</servlet-name>
<url-pattern>/servlet/*</url-pattern>
</servlet-mapping>

If you are you not interested in setting up your own install of Tomcat there are prebuilt versions Tomcat that has all of the above changes already made, and has the test HTML, JSP, and Servlet files already bundled. Just unzip the file, set your JAVA_HOME

Next we will give Tomcat and your web applications access to the Recital JDBC driver.

For the purposes of this article we are going to install the Recital JDBC driver in the /[tomcat install path]/common/lib/ this gives Tomcat and your web applications access to the Recital JDBC driver. The driver can be installed in a number of places in the Tomcat tree, giving access to the driver to specific application or just to the web application and not the container. For more information refer to the Tomcat documentation.

Copy the recitalJDBC.jar which is located at /[recital install path]/drivers/recitalJDBC.jar to the /[tomcat install path]/common/lib/ directory.

Linux:
$cp /[recital install path]/drivers/recitalJDBC.jar /[tomcat install path]/common/lib/
Once you have completed all the steps detailed above, fire up the server using the script used by your platform's Tomcat installation.

Linux/Unix:
[tomcat install path]/bin/startup.sh
Windows:
[tomcat install path]/bin/startup

If you are having problems configuring your Tomcat Installation or would like more detail visit the online documentation a the Apache Tomcat site.

Example and Links

Now we have setup our Tomcat installation, lets get down to it with a JSP example which uses the Recital JDBC driver to access the demonstration database (southwind) shipped with the Recital Database Server.

The example provided below is a basic JDBC web application, where the user simply selects a supplier from the listbox and requests the products supplied by that supplier.

To run the example download and extract the tar archive or simple save each of the two jsp pages individually into /[tomcat install path]/webapps/ROOT/ on your server.

By enabling the invoker Servlet earlier we have removed the need to set the example up as a web application in the Tomcat configuration files.

You can now access the example web application at http://[Server Name]/supplier.jsp if the page doesn't display, check you have followed all the Tomcat installation steps detailed earlier in this article and then make sure both Tomcat and a licensed Recital UAS are running.

Downloads:
Archive: jspExample.tar

Right click and save as individual files and rename as .jsp files:
supplier.txt details.txt

Further Reading on JSP and JDBC can be found at http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-webdata/

Final Thoughts

Recital and Apache tomcat are a powerful combination, using Java Servlet technology you can separate application logic and the presentation extremely well. Tomcat, JSP, Java Servlets and the Recital database server form a robust platform independent, easily maintained and administered solution with which to unlock the power of your Recital, Foxpro, Foxbase, Clipper, RMS and C-SAM data.

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