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Creating Web Applications with the Eclipse Web Tools Project

Using open source to develop Web applications, EJBs, and Web services

The Web Tools Project (WTP) by the Eclipse Foundation is a set of open source tools that substantially reduce the time required for the development of Web applications, EJBs, and Web services. The WTP's current version is 0.7.1 and version 1.0 is coming later this year. The framework provides wizards and tools to create EJBs, Web components such as servlets and JSPs, and Web services using the Axis engine. It also provides source editors for HTML, JavaScript, CSS, JSP, SQL, XML, DTD, XSD, and WSDL; graphical editors for XSD, WSDL, J2EE project builders, models, and a J2EE navigator; a Web service wizard, explorer, and WS-I Test Tools; and database access, query tools, and models.

In this article I'll show you how to develop and deploy a JSP Web application with WTP in less than an hour. I'll also cover the creation and deployment of a basic servlet and editing JSP with WTP. Let's develop the WTP application together but, first, we need to install the following software:

  1. J2SE 5.0 JRE:
  2. Eclipse 3.1:
  3. WTP 0.7.1:
  4. Tomcat 5.0:
  5. MySQL 4.0.25:
  6. MySQL Connector/J Driver 3.1:

Application Overview
Our application will be a basic Web application implementing the following use cases:

  • Customers need to register on the site to place orders.
  • Customers can place orders.
  • Customers can view their orders.
  • Admin can list all registered customers.

The system will be implemented using a servlet programming model and MySQL database.

Configuring MySQL Database and the Data Source
By default, when MySQL gets installed, a TEST database is available. Be sure to launch C:\Mysql\winmysqladmin.exe to specify the user name and password (the first time you launch it, it lets you do it and also starts the database server). It's necessary to copy MySQL Connector/J JDBC Driver: mysql-connector-java-3.1.10-bin.jar to the Tomcat/common/lib directory, so the Tomcat server can recognize it.

To configure MySQL database access in Tomcat, we have to add a separate file called Listing 1: DBTest.xml; the file follows a convention of "application_name.xml" under $TOMCAT\conf\catalina\localhost directory. The only problem with this file is that it may get deleted when the application is undeployed, so if you undeploy and redeploy the application, you have to place this file into the same folder again (so it's a good idea to save it somewhere else). Looking inside the DBTest.xml file, please note that in our case we are using "ODBC" for the username and don't provide any password.

Building Our Web Application Using Web Tools and a Database
Before we can start working on the Web project, we must configure Tomcat 5.0 in Eclipse to be our default server. When Web Tools are installed in Eclipse, new perspectives and options are added, such as a J2EE perspective where you can create J2EE projects, Web projects, and Web services. New options are available under the Window-Preferences menu for configuring Tomcat servers with Eclipse. Go to Window - Preferences menu, under Server select - Installed Runtimes, click Add, and then specify Tomcat 5.0 server with the installed JRE and a path to the Tomcat installation directory (see Figure 1). Now create a Dynamic Web Project using the Web Tools wizard by selecting File-New-Other, then expanding Web-Dynamic Web Project.

We'll name the project DBTest, which will also become its context root. The Web module will be targeted to our default server: Tomcat. Click Finish and the DBTest Web project gets created. This project will contain all of our Web resources, such as HTML and JSP files, and servlets, and you'll be able to export it into a standard WAR file later, if needed.

Creating Supporting Domain Classes and Tables
Before creating servlets, let's create supporting classes to represent a customer and an order. The class diagram in Figure 2 depicts the Customer and Order relationship.

Note that when creating Customer and Order classes, we define corresponding fields as their public instance variables and then can automatically generate getters and setters from those fields. This can be easily done by going to Outline view (appears after you double-click on an existing class name or create a new class), selecting a class, and selecting "Source - Generate Getters and Setters..." from the right-button menu (see Figure 3).

Along with the classes, we'd have to create corresponding database tables in a MySQL database:



Creating Database Command Classes
We'll create a special package with classes that implement a Command design pattern to perform necessary database updates. The Command pattern allows the classes to implement the common interface executing some particular command. Examples of the Command pattern in Java would be classes that implement the ActionListener interface with the actionPerformed() method. Our Command pattern interface for database integration is presented in Listing 2.

Classes implementing this command will be performing the actual database operations for reading and inserting rows into customer and order tables. The following use cases will be addressed:

  • Customers want to register on the site in order to place orders (a new row is created in the customer table)
  • Customers can place the order (the order gets created in the database for a particular customer)
  • Customers can view the orders they have placed
  • Admin can list all the customers

Based on these use cases, the following classes have implemented the DatabaseCommand interface (see Listings 3-6):

public class CreateCustomer implements DatabaseCommand
public class CreateOrder implements DatabaseCommand
public class ListCustomers implements DatabaseCommand
public class ListCustomerOrders implements DatabaseCommand

Finally, in order to execute our command classes, we will need to create a class that would access the database datasource, obtain a SQL connection, and then execute a particular database command. This class will implement a Singleton design pattern, which we'll call CommandExecutor:

Object o = CommandExecutor.getInstance().executeDatabaseCommand
(<<instance of the particular database command class goes here>>).

The CommandExecutor class will perform the datasource lookup as follows:

InitialContext ctx = new InitialContext();
Context envCtx = (Context) ctx.lookup("java:comp/env");
ds = (DataSource) envCtx.lookup("jdbc/TestDB");

This finds the reference to the data-source we have defined in DBTest.xml by resolving its reference in a Web deployment descriptor (web.xml), which we'll define in a section below. Listing 7 has the complete code of the Command Executor class.

More Stories By Boris Minkin

Boris Minkin is a Senior Technical Architect of a major financial corporation. He has more than 15 years of experience working in various areas of information technology and financial services. Boris is currently pursuing his Masters degree at Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey. His professional interests are in the Internet technology, service-oriented architecture, enterprise application architecture, multi-platform distributed applications, and relational database design. You can contact Boris at [email protected]

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Most Recent Comments
Mintara 12/26/07 04:11:21 PM EST

Hello Sir,
Could you please elaborate (for e.g the classes ..I could not find the source code)what you have explained.
Thank you.

Serge Cambour 09/25/07 06:38:15 AM EDT

It would be really a very good article or a tutorial if the author had tested it himself before posting it. I don't even talk of missing details, classes, code mistakes, ets. that make you loose any wish to continue.

Keith Freeman 07/15/06 10:32:01 PM EDT

Well, this seems like a fantastic tutorial, until suddenly the "CreateCustomerServlet" description morphs into a "ListCustomersServlet". We're left to figure out how to finish the servlets ourselves (still in progress for me), since as others point out here a bunch of code is missing from the zip file download. VERY disappointing after such a strong start.

David Paules 05/24/06 04:04:22 PM EDT

Good introduction article. Unfortunately, it's not clear where the database connection file DBTest.xml should reside when running Tomcat under Eclipse. Where does this file or it's content go in the Dynamic Web project tree? Because of this, I get an error message at debug time:

javax.servlet.ServletException: Cannot create JDBC driver of class '' for connect URL 'null'

Chuck Ferrick 05/20/06 09:24:58 PM EDT

I was very interesting article, but most of the listings where not posted. I was hoping to gain some insight on how you configure Hibernate. Your article stated to look at listing 9, but listing 9 was know where to be found. I was also frustrated when I could not find the DBTest.war file on java.sys-con web site.

Good furture article and maybe next time JDJ will include all of the necesasry file listings.

Achille Komla 02/05/06 10:57:41 PM EST

Very well done. It will be good to see how the application works with hibernate.

Daniel Hillebrand 12/15/05 04:35:56 AM EST

Hi Boris,

thank you for your great tutorial! Maybe you could add a note to your article regarding running Tomcat in eclipse:

You have to put the content of DBTest.xml in the (new) file context.xml in "WebContent/META-INF". The path strings are not needed, except the "path" string.

regards, Daniel

Bill Gercken 12/09/05 09:02:38 AM EST

Soource code: For those who did not find it: the link to the source is at the top of listing 1. View link:

km 12/07/05 03:41:46 PM EST

could you provide the link for the source code

Paul Mischler 12/05/05 04:39:16 PM EST

Did anyone notice that listings 3-10 aren't included in the dead-tree edition?

Corrections to the article:

For the code to work "out of the box", the Customer and Order classes need to be created in a package called "domain"

Figure 2 shows "cust_id" as a member of the Order class. However, the image of Figure 3 (and the CreateOrder class sample code) utilize "custId".

A helpful reminder that a user with permissions to access the database tables would have been helpful.

CS Cassell 12/02/05 10:01:30 AM EST

Several of the links are broken. This could be a really good article but ones needs the various links to work correctly.

José D´Andrade 12/01/05 09:11:56 AM EST

Please, think Linux. Think about Linux users when writing articles about developing whatever using:


It is confusing to read about things that perhaps only apply to MS Windows (¨be sure to launch C:\Mysql\winmysqladmin.exe ¨) when the tools are mostly used by Linux people. And, this is not religion.

At least, write referencing both OSs.

José D´Andrade 12/01/05 09:10:40 AM EST

Please, think Linux. Think about Linux users when writing articles about developing whatever using:


It is confusing to read about things that perhaps only apply to MS Windows (¨be sure to launch C:\Mysql\winmysqladmin.exe ¨) when the tools are mostly used by Linux people. And, this is not religion.

At least, write referencing both OSs.

Bill Dornbush 11/29/05 03:16:26 PM EST

Where is the source code for the article? I can't find any for this issue of the magazine at

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