HTTP client : Java Glossary

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HTTP client
If you want to write an Applet or application or Java Web Start app, that automates what you would do with a browser, you need to speak HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) client protocols. You need to be able to GET and POST. You want to be able to talk to webservers to fetch files, talk to CGI (Common Gateway Interface) server to send and receive data or to servlet wombs to send and receive data. Sometimes you want to analyse the responses. Sometimes you just want the browser to render it. Marty Hall’s book is the best place to learn how to do this.
book cover recommend book⇒Core Web Programming, second editionto book home
by Marty Hall and Gary Cornell 978-0-13-089793-0 paperback
publisher Prentice Hall 978-0-613-92274-6 hardcover
published 2001-06-03
1250 pages. Also has some simple RMI examples. This is a great doorstop of a book. It has a few chapters on client-server programming in Java, and a section of that is on CGI. I have looked at hundreds of Java books and found nothing that deals in depth with client side Java talking to CGI, except Marty’s book. It is really very simple and he does an excellent job of explaining it. Marty has posted all the source code examples from the book for anyone to use. These contain updates and errata fixes you don’t get on the CD-ROM that comes with the book.
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The file IO Amanuensis will generate code for you to handle simple HTTP situations.

You can do your work via general purpose HTTP-client libraries. These are probably overkill in most cases. You would spend more time learning these packages than you would learning how to accomplish the same thing more efficiently with raw sockets or Java’s built-in HTTP using java.net.URLConnection, java.net.HttpURLConnection, javax.net.ssl.HttpsURLConnection and javax.net.ssl.HttpsURLConnection, However, if you have a complex task, check them out.

The main problem with Jakarta HTTPClient is the download is about 3 MB. This is on the plump side for including in an Applet download. You want to get the jar pre-installed at the client in the ext directory or in the Java Web Start cache. The advantage is it behaves the same way on every browser, and it handles most of the client-server interactions at a higher level. You could of course just study the code for use in a stripped down version. It is not based on top of Oracle’s HttpURLConnection, so fixes a number of its problems, e.g. being able recover from a server sending you invalid cookies.


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