Consider Controllers for redirects

HTTP provides redirection headers. A main use case for these headers is to instruct browsers that a page has moved to a new URL, either temporarily or permanently. When a page is moved, any links to the old URL will be broken, unless a redirect is provided.

Here's a snippet which performs a permanent redirection, using an HttpServletResponse object:

aResponse.setHeader("Location", "");
In the case of a temporary redirection, another style can be used instead, if desired:

Using a Controller servlet to perform redirections is often an attractive option.


The Servlet API allows for welcome-file entries in web.xml. These items handle requests which specify only a directory, instead of a specific file or action.

A common requirement is to serve welcome files using a servlet instead of a static page. It's true that a static page can indeed perform a redirect. However, that style seems to be slower. As well, it forces the quick display of an intermediate page before the "real" one, which seems to be a less pleasing experience for the user.

The site uses a redirection Controller to serve its home page. Here are the relevant entries in its web.xml:

  Redirects directory requests to the home page Action.
     The URL of the home page, as an Action.


<!-- the welcome-file points to the servlet, not to a file -->
<!-- note the slash does not appear here -->
The actual Controller class is fairly simple. Note that it reads in the Destination setting from web.xml :


import hirondelle.web4j.util.Util;
import java.util.logging.Logger;
import javax.servlet.ServletConfig;
import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

* Redirect requests for the home page to a specific Action.
* <P>Configuration in web.xml :<br>
* This Controller servlet is mapped to '/welcome', and a corresponding welcome-file entry 
* is listed as 'welcome', without the leading slash.
public final class WelcomeFileController  extends HttpServlet {
  @Override public void init(ServletConfig aConfig) throws ServletException {
    fLogger.config("WelcomeFile Controller - starting.");
    fDestination = aConfig.getInitParameter("Destination");
    if ( ! Util.textHasContent(fDestination) ) {
      fLogger.severe("Destination URL needed, but not configured in web.xml.");
  @Override public void destroy(){
    fLogger.config("WelcomeFile Controller - ending.");
  @Override protected void doGet(
    HttpServletRequest aRequest, HttpServletResponse aResponse
  ) throws ServletException, IOException {
    fLogger.fine("Redirecting directory request to new location : " + fDestination);
  // PRIVATE //
  private String fDestination;
  private static final Logger fLogger = Util.getLogger(WelcomeFileController.class);

See Also :
Forward versus redirect
Would you use this technique?
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