Is Jetty an Application Server or Web Server?


Angela Bailey

Is Jetty an Application Server or Web Server?

When it comes to server technology, there are often terms that can be confusing or used interchangeably. One such example is Jetty, which is commonly referred to as both an application server and a web server. But what exactly is Jetty and how does it fit into the server landscape?

Understanding the Difference: Application Server vs. Web Server

Before delving into the specifics of Jetty, let’s first clarify the distinction between an application server and a web server.

An application server is a software framework that provides an environment for running applications. It typically includes features such as transaction management, security, and scalability, making it suitable for hosting complex business applications.

A web server, on the other hand, is designed to serve static content over HTTP. It handles requests from clients, retrieves the requested resources (such as HTML files or images), and sends them back as responses.

Jetty: A Versatile Server

Now that we have a basic understanding of application servers and web servers, let’s explore where Jetty fits in.

Jetty is primarily known as a web server, capable of serving static content like HTML files and handling HTTP requests efficiently. It is lightweight and has a small memory footprint compared to other web servers like Apache or Nginx.

But here’s where Jetty sets itself apart:

  • Servlet Container: Jetty functions as a servlet container, allowing you to deploy Java-based web applications using technologies like Java Servlets, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and Java WebSocket API.
  • HTTP/2 Support: Jetty supports the HTTP/2 protocol, which offers significant performance improvements over its predecessor, HTTP/1.1.
  • WebSocket Support: Jetty provides built-in support for WebSocket, enabling real-time communication between the client and the server.
  • Embedded Mode: Jetty can be embedded within an application, allowing it to function as both a web server and an application server simultaneously.

When to Use Jetty?

For small to medium-sized projects that require a lightweight web server with additional features like servlet support and WebSocket capabilities, Jetty is an excellent choice.

If your project involves Java-based web applications or requires efficient handling of HTTP requests, Jetty’s servlet container functionality makes it a suitable option. Additionally, if you need to implement real-time communication between the client and the server using WebSocket technology, Jetty’s built-in support simplifies the process.

In Conclusion

So, is Jetty an application server or a web server?

The answer lies in its versatility. While primarily known as a web server, Jetty incorporates features that make it capable of functioning as both a web server and an application server. Its lightweight nature and support for Java-based technologies like Servlets and WebSockets make it an attractive choice for developers working on smaller projects that require these capabilities.

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