Embedded Tomcat

Download from http://www.nyangau.org/et/et.zip.


Often people develop web applications and deploy the resulting .war file to Tomcat, or other servlet engine, or application server.

These servlet engines can come with their own baggage, which includes complex installation, configuration and administration. It also can include larger deployment footprints and runtime requirements. As servlet engines can sometimes be provided by other groups or departments, operational/procedural dependencies can be created between AD groups and web teams or system administrators.

Often what you want is that some application you have written should also listen on a port and serve web content too. Or perhaps the packaging and deployment framework within which you work doesn't play nicely with the operational constraints described above.

So for this, we can use Embedded Tomcat. This makes Tomcat a part of your application. Your application includes a few Tomcat related .jar files. Upon startup, the application creates a new Tomcat(), customises it a little and starts it listening for web requests.

This package is really a demonstration of how this can work.


This package delivers three Maven projects.


The mywar project is a simple web application. It includes some static content and a servlet.

The servlet appears in three places (url-patterns), two requiring authenticated access, one also requiring confidential access (ie: SSL).

The pom.xml produces a .war as its result.

In principle, this .war could be deployed to real Tomcat, another servlet engine or application server, or even to the cloud.

Web Container using Embedded Tomcat

The wcet project depends on the appropriate Tomcat .jars.

This includes a WCET class, which is what instantiates Embedded Tomcat and customises it :-

The code explicitly avoids log rotation based on date, as runaway logging can fill a disk and take a system down before rotation kicks in. Instead it promises to keep within a disk size limit, and if runaway logging does occur, the worst that happens is that the logs don't go back as far in time as they would normally. Log numbers and sizes have defaults which can be overridden using properties.

My Web Process

The mywebproc project instantiates a WCET, registers My WAR into it, and starts listening.

The main .java file is therefore very short and unexciting. It is likely that in real use, userids and passwords might be obtained from a credential store and configured into the WCET.

Its pom.xml depends on the mywar project and the wcet project.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is the use of an assembly.xml to construct the file deployable asset. It creates a .zip file containing something like this :-

$ unzip -v mywebproc-0.1-SNAPSHOT-bin.zip
Archive:  mywebproc-0.1-SNAPSHOT-bin.zip
 Length   Method    Size  Cmpr    Date    Time   CRC-32   Name
--------  ------  ------- ---- ---------- ----- --------  ----
       0  Stored        0   0% 12-30-2015 16:42 00000000  base/
       0  Stored        0   0% 12-30-2015 16:42 00000000  base/webapps/
    6210  Defl:N     4029  35% 12-29-2015 17:00 90e4c34b  base/webapps/mywar.war
       0  Stored        0   0% 12-29-2015 16:03 00000000  keystores/
    3169  Defl:N     1763  44% 12-29-2015 16:03 b6bb4483  keystores/webserver.jks
       0  Stored        0   0% 12-30-2015 16:42 00000000  lib/
 2310271  Defl:N  2218543   4% 12-22-2015 08:50 c05864bb  lib/ecj-4.4.2.jar
    2633  Defl:N     1728  34% 12-30-2015 11:43 263f8f4d  lib/mywebproc-0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar
    9278  Defl:N     7866  15% 12-22-2015 08:50 7d239139  lib/tomcat-api-8.0.30.jar
   81428  Defl:N    75803   7% 12-22-2015 08:50 2e7df4f8  lib/tomcat-el-api-8.0.30.jar
 2829987  Defl:N  2639561   7% 12-22-2015 08:50 899530ad  lib/tomcat-embed-core-8.0.30.jar
  238012  Defl:N   220851   7% 12-22-2015 08:49 5a67ebfa  lib/tomcat-embed-el-8.0.30.jar
  642746  Defl:N   601626   6% 12-22-2015 08:50 0b0ade16  lib/tomcat-embed-jasper-8.0.30.jar
   40845  Defl:N    37472   8% 12-22-2015 08:49 c919731d  lib/tomcat-embed-logging-juli-8.0.30.jar
  586127  Defl:N   552662   6% 12-22-2015 08:50 737756b0  lib/tomcat-jasper-8.0.30.jar
  161367  Defl:N   149688   7% 12-22-2015 08:50 08ac7203  lib/tomcat-jasper-el-8.0.30.jar
   61417  Defl:N    53013  14% 12-22-2015 08:50 b9f2c2ce  lib/tomcat-jsp-api-8.0.30.jar
   40845  Defl:N    37471   8% 12-22-2015 08:50 df578c52  lib/tomcat-juli-8.0.30.jar
  244281  Defl:N   230652   6% 12-22-2015 08:50 f18bd858  lib/tomcat-servlet-api-8.0.30.jar
  105125  Defl:N    96093   9% 12-22-2015 08:50 20a65a71  lib/tomcat-util-8.0.30.jar
  201024  Defl:N   184439   8% 12-22-2015 08:50 4739696b  lib/tomcat-util-scan-8.0.30.jar
    8579  Defl:N     7563  12% 12-30-2015 16:42 66863fc5  lib/wcet-0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar
      84  Defl:N       84   0% 12-30-2015 12:26 1a2d7e3f  mywebproc
      76  Defl:N       76   0% 12-30-2015 12:26 5b612a39  mywebproc.bat
--------          -------  ---                            -------
 7573595          7121074   6%                            24 files

Its important to spot that although mywebproc-0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar was put in the lib subdirectory, the assembly process has carefully arranged to put mywar.war (named without a version suffix) in the base/webapps/ subdirectory. This is so the Java code that registers a .war into Tomcat has a fixed filename to refer to it by.

Note the inclusion of a couple of scripts (mywebproc and mywebproc.bat) to run the program. You can imagine more sophisticated versions that could be used as init-scripts.

The intent of this structure is that you simply unzip the file, and run the script.

In reality, the installation process or the start script is likely to need to add a context.xml into the META-INF/ subdirectory of the .war file. This file contains things such as database connection definitions, and is therefore likely to vary depending on the environment into which the application is deployed.


Usage :-

$ unzip mywebproc-0.1-SNAPSHOT-bin.zip
$ ./mywebproc

Point your browser at http://localhost:8080/mywar/ or https://localhost:8443/mywar/.


Feel free to copy, its public domain. Caveat Emptor.

The documentation is written and maintained by the Embedded Tomcat example author, Andy Key