Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spring MVC and Servlets

I've been using Spring MVC for a variety of web applications. It really does have a lot of nice advantages over Struts making it one of the better request-based frameworks (as opposed to the component based frameworks like Seam.) I came across an interesting use case that doesn't seem to be covered by Spring MVC.

I had a URL mapped to a controller. The URL needed to work for a variety of devices, not just
"full" web browsers like IE and Firefox. In particular it needed to work with a J2ME application. The controller needed to inspect the user agent of the HTTP request, build a model based on this information, and then forward to a view. The view would be different for different devices.

The wrinkle came when the developer working on the J2ME application told me he wanted the view to output a binary data stream. This could be done in a JSP, but is more suited to using a servlet. So I needed to configure a view in Spring MVC that was a servlet.

Spring MVC includes many view implementations. Several JSP-variants, and many other specialized views for working with various technologies such as Jasper Reports, Free Market, POI, PDF, etc. But nothing for a user built servlet like the one I needed to forward to. Seems like kind of a hole in Spring MVC.

Turns out it is not too hard to work around. The key is using the "forward:" prefix. Simply append this to the URL path specified in your servlet mapping, and it will short-circuit the Spring view lookup and forward directly to the desired servlet. So for example, if in your web.xml you had specified "/myServlet" as the mapping to your servlet, then having your controller return something like new ModelAndView("forward:/myServlet", "myModel", model) would forward to your servlet, and allow you to retrieve the model you had built in your controller using a simple request.getAttribute("myModel").

So it was easy to work around, but it still seems like Spring should have a servlet view. Maybe I will try to submit one to them...

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SomeOnehere said...

"Mostly technical and political,the stuff that bores everyone"

pal,you really wanna tell you're so much different than others..and I think it's too cliche:D

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I was wondering how to use it with servlets! Great!

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