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Servlets Tutorial
Servlets Introduction
Servlets Life Cycle
Handling the Client Request:Form Data
Handling the Client Request: HTTP Request Headers
Accessing the Standard CGI Variables
Generating the Server Response: HTTP Status Codes
Generating the Server Response: HTTP Response Headers
Handling Cookies
Session Tracking
Connecting to database in Servlets
Filters in Servlet
Servlets Summary

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Handling the Client Request: HTTP Request Headers

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  • When the HTTP client (e.g. a browser) sends a request, it is required to supply a request line (usually GET or POST).

  • A D V E R T I S E M E N T

  • If it wants to, it can also send the number of headers, all of which are optional except for Content-Length, which is required only for POST requests

HTTP Request Header Methods Available in Servlets


-getHeader (header name is not case sensitive)

-getAuthType and getRemoteUser
-Related info

An Overview of Request Headers

When the HTTP client (e.g. a browser) sends a request, it is required to supply a request line (usually GET or POST). If it wants to, it can also send the number of headers, all of which are optional except for Content-Length, which is required only for POST requests. Here are the most common headers:

  • Accept The MIME types that the browser prefers.
  • Accept-Charset The character set that the browser expects.
  • Accept-Encoding The types of data encodings (such as gzip) that the browser knows how to decode. Servlet can explicitly check for gzip support and return gzipped HTML pages to browsers that support them, setting the Content-Encoding response header to indicate that they are gzipped. In many cases, this can reduce page download times by a factor of five or ten.

  • Accept-Language The language the browser is expecting, in case the server has versions in more than the one language.

  • Authorization Authorization info, usually in response to the WWW-Authenticate header from the server.

  • Connection Use persistent connection? If a servlet get a Keep-Alive value here, or gets a request line indicating HTTP 1.1 (where persistent connections are the default), it may be able to take advantage of persistent connections, saving significant time for Web pages that include several small pieces (images or applet classes). To do this, it needs to send the Content-Length header in the response, which is most easily accomplished by writing into a ByteArrayOutputStream, then looking up the size just before writing it out.

  • Content-Length (for POST messages, how much the data is attached)

  • Cookie (one of most important headers; see separate section in this tutorial on handling cookies)

  • From (email address of the requester; only used by Web spiders and other custom clients, not by browsers)

  • Host (host and the port as listed in the original URL)
  • If-Modified-Since (only return documents newer than this, otherwise send the 304 "Not Modified" response)

  • Pragma (the no-cache value indicates that the server should return the fresh document, even if it is a proxy with a local copy)

  • Referer (the URL of the page containing the link the user followed to get to the current page)

  • User-Agent (type of the browser, useful if servlet is returning browser-specific content)

  • UA-Pixels, UA-Color, UA-OS, UA-CPU (nonstandard header sent by some Internet Explorer versions, indicating screen size, color depth, operating system, and cpu type used by the browser's system)

Reading Request Headers from Servlets

Reading headers is the very straightforward; just call the getHeader method of the HttpServletRequest, which returns a String if the header was supplied on this request, null otherwise. However, there are the couple of headers that are so commonly used that they have special access methods. The getCookies method returns contents of the Cookie header, parsed and stored in an array of Cookie objects. See the separate section of this tutorial on cookies. The getAuthType and getRemoteUser methods break Authorization header into its component pieces. The getDateHeader and getIntHeader methods read the specified header and then convert them to Date and int values, respectively.

Rather than looking up one of the particular header, you can use the getHeaderNames to get an Enumeration of all header names received on this particular request.

Finally, in addition to looking up request headers, you can get information on the main request line itself. The getMethod method returns the main request method (normally GET or POST, but things like HEAD, PUT, and DELETE are possible). The getRequestURI method returns URI (the part of the URL that came after the host and port, but before the form data). The getRequestProtocol returns third part of the request line, which is generally "HTTP/1.0" or "HTTP/1.1".

The following example called prints all the headers in the browser

import javax.servlet.*;
import javax.servlet.http.*;
import java.util.*;

public class ShowRequestHeaders extends HttpServlet
public void doGet(HttpServletRequest request,
HttpServletResponse response)
throws ServletException, IOException
PrintWriter out = response.getWriter();
String title = "Servlet Example: Showing Request Headers"; out.println(ServletUtilities.headWithTitle(title) +
"<body bgcolor=\"#FDF5E6\">\n" +
"<h1 align=center>" + title + "</h1>\n" +
"<b>Request Method: </b>" +
request.getMethod() + "<br>\n" +
"<b>Request URI: </b>" +
request.getRequestURI() + "<BR>\n" +
"<b>Request Protocol: </b>" +
request.getProtocol() + "<BR><BR>\n" +
"<table border=1 align="center">\n" +
"<tr bgcolor=\"#FFAD00\">\n" +
"<th>Header Name<th>Header Value");
Enumeration headerNames = request.getHeaderNames();
String headerName = (String)headerNames.nextElement();
out.println("<tr><td>" + headerName);
out.println(" <td>" + request.getHeader(headerName));

public void doPost(HttpServletRequest request,
HttpServletResponse response)
throws ServletException, IOException
doGet(request, response);

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Keywords: Handling the Client Request:Form Data,asp net client,asp net data,vb net data,control data,data net,java client,data repeater

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