HttpServletRequest Path Decoding

The documentation on HttpServletRequest is very poor, and this fills in a critical set of facts that you need to know to write a TomCat application.

The HttpServletRequest object will return the path to the current request with the following methods:

  • getContextPath()
  • getPathInfo()
  • getPathTranslated()
  • getQueryString()
  • getRequestURI()
  • getRequestURL()
  • getServletPath()

Imagine you have a tomcat server installed at http://server:8080/

Imagine you install an application in this server at “myapp

That application has a servlet mounted at “servlet1

The user then makes a request:


Here is the map of how the various functions decode this:


I won’t repeat what the documentation says — things like “use getContextPath to get the context path” without any explanation of what “context” we are talking about or how much of that context is included.  A simple map like this helps show all the relationships.



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