When it comes to web development, two terms that often get thrown around are “web container” and “web server.” While they may sound similar, they actually refer to different components of the web application architecture. In this article, we will explore the difference between a web container and a web server.
A web container, also known as a servlet container or a Java Servlet Engine, is a part of the Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) platform. It provides the runtime environment for Java-based web applications. The main function of a web container is to manage the lifecycle of servlets, which are Java classes that handle incoming HTTP requests and generate HTTP responses.
A web container:
- Executes servlets: The primary responsibility of a web container is to execute servlets and handle the request-response cycle. It receives an HTTP request from a client, passes it to the appropriate servlet, and sends back the generated response to the client.
- Manages concurrency: A web container handles multiple requests concurrently by creating separate threads for each incoming request. This allows it to efficiently process multiple user interactions simultaneously.
- Provides additional services: Apart from managing servlets, a web container also offers additional services such as session management, security enforcement, and database connectivity through Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) drivers.
A web server is software that delivers static content over the internet using protocols like Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It listens for incoming requests from clients (usually web browsers) and responds with the requested content. Unlike a web container, which focuses on executing dynamic content generated by servlets or scripts, a web server mainly handles static files.
A web server:
- Handles HTTP requests: A web server listens for HTTP requests on a designated port (usually port 80) and responds with the requested content. It supports different HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, etc.
- Provides additional features: Modern web servers offer various additional features like caching, load balancing, virtual hosting, SSL encryption, and URL rewriting.
Differences Between Web Container and Web Server
To summarize the key differences between a web container and a web server:
- A web container executes dynamic content generated by servlets or scripts, while a web server mainly serves static files.
- A web container manages the lifecycle of servlets and provides additional services like session management and security enforcement. In contrast, a web server focuses on handling HTTP requests and delivering static content.
A web container is responsible for executing dynamic content generated by servlets in a Java-based environment. It offers additional services like session management and security enforcement.
On the other hand, a web server primarily serves static files over the internet using protocols like HTTP. It handles incoming requests and delivers the requested content.
Understanding the difference between a web container and a web server is essential for developers working on web applications, as it helps them choose the appropriate technologies and configure their infrastructure accordingly.