Demystifying Apache Tomcat: What Is Tomcat? | HostAdvice

What Is Tomcat: Unveiling The Power Of Java Web Applications

Tomcat may sound like the name of a feline, but it’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of web servers. It is a powerful web server that is the backbone for hosting Java-based web applications.

Tomcat is open-source, dependable, and flexible, making it an excellent choice for software developers worldwide.

In this article, we will explore the features of Tomcat and demonstrate how it can assist you in hosting a Java web application on a web server.


Key Highlights

  • Tomcat is capable of supporting several Java-based technologies such as Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages (JSP), JavaServer Faces (JSF), Java Message Service (JMS), and Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS)
  • Tomcat comes equipped with various features and components, such as a web server, a servlet container, and support for HTTP and HTTPS protocols
  • With Tomcat, you have the flexibility to customize and configure it according to your web application’s specific requirements, enabling you to optimize aspects such as performance, security, and more
  • Tomcat is a widely-used web application server with extensive support from a vibrant community of developers and users. It is prevalent in both development and production environments
  • Tomcat is available for free use and distribution under the Apache License, making it an affordable and easily accessible option for organizations of all sizes.


What Is Apache Tomcat?

Apache Tomcat is an open-source web server and servlet container created by the Apache Software Foundation. It implements Oracle Corporation’s Java Servlet, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and Java Expression Language (EL) specifications, making it an ideal ”pure Java” HTTP web server environment for executing Java code.

Tomcat can function as a standalone web server or be incorporated into an application server to provide additional capabilities like clustering and failover. In combination with the Apache web server, Tomcat is frequently used to host basic Java-based websites.

Tomcat is exceedingly adaptable and offers a range of advanced features, including resource pooling, dynamic reloading, and connection pooling. It also integrates well with popular web frameworks like Apache Struts, Spring Framework, JavaServer Faces (JSF), and Tapestry.

Besides being a reliable container for hosting Java applications, Tomcat can also be used as a testing platform for creating and debugging web applications.


Features Of Tomcat

Apache Tomcat is a popular web server for Java-based applications. Its features make it an ideal choice for hosting your Java web application. Here are some of the key features of Tomcat:

Open-Source – Tomcat is open-source software, which means its source code is freely available to the public, and developers can use it, modify it, and distribute it as per their requirements.

Cross-Platform – Tomcat is designed to work on various platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS, making it highly portable and flexible.

Web Application Support – Tomcat supports deploying and managing Java-based web applications, including servlets, JavaServer Pages (JSPs), Java Expression Language (EL), and WebSocket applications.

Lightweight Container –Tomcat is a lightweight container that can run Java web applications, and it has a small memory footprint, making it suitable for low-end systems and embedded devices.

Modular Design – Tomcat’s modular architecture allows developers to add or remove components per their requirements, making it highly customizable and extensible.

Servlet/JSP Compliance – Tomcat fully complies with the Java Servlet and JSP specifications, ensuring that Java web applications developed on Tomcat are portable and can run on other compliant servers.

Configurable – Tomcat is highly configurable, allowing developers to customize various settings related to web applications, security, logging, and performance.

Secure – Tomcat has built-in security features, such as support for SSL/TLS encryption, user authentication, and access control, ensuring that web applications deployed on Tomcat are secure and protected.

Scalable – Tomcat can handle many concurrent users and requests and can be clustered for improved scalability and high availability.

JDBC Database Connection Pooling – Tomcat supports JDBC database connection pooling, which can significantly improve the performance of web applications that interact with databases.

High-Performance – Tomcat uses a high-performance JDK timing library integration, which can improve the response time of web applications, making them faster and more responsive to user requests.


Installing And Configuring Process

To install and configure Tomcat, you need to follow the detailed steps given below:

1. Determine System Requirements

The first step in installing any software is to determine if the computer or device meets the minimum system requirements for the software. This may involve checking the processor speed, memory, disk space, and other hardware specifications.

2. Download Tomcat Binary

Next is to download the Tomcat software from the Apache website. Choose the appropriate version based on your operating system and download it.

3. Install Tomcat

After downloading the binary, install it on your computer or device. This involves following the setup instructions and specifying preferences such as the installation directory.

4. Configure Tomcat

After installation, configure Tomcat by editing the configuration files such as server.xml and web.xml. This will determine how Tomcat runs, including the port number and default root context.

5. Start The Server

Once the configuration is complete, start the Tomcat server by running the startup script provided with the binary installation package. This will initiate a process to launch Tomcat on the server at a specific port.

6. Test the Tomcat Installation

Once the Tomcat server has started, you can test the installation by accessing the Tomcat default homepage at http://localhost:8080/. If the page displays correctly, then the Tomcat installation was successful.

7. Deploy Web Applications

Finally, to deploy web applications, you need to place the application’s WAR file within the web apps directory in the Tomcat installation directory. Tomcat will automatically deploy the application and make it available for use.


Components Of The Tomcat Server

The Tomcat server comprises several components, each with a specific role in running your Java web applications. The primary components of the Tomcat server are as follows:


Catalina is the core component of Tomcat and is responsible for processing HTTP requests and providing web services. It includes a web server that listens for incoming requests, a servlet container that manages servlets and JSP pages, and a connector that enables Tomcat to communicate with other web servers or clients.


Jasper is a JSP engine used to compile JSP pages into Java servlets. It is responsible for generating the dynamic content of a web page based on the data received from the server. Jasper provides caching of JSP pages to improve performance and reduce the overhead of compiling JSP pages for each request.


Tomcat connectors enable communication between the server and clients or other web servers. Several connectors are available, including the HTTP connector, which is used to handle HTTP requests, and the AJP connector, which is used to communicate with the Apache web server using the Apache JServ Protocol.


The server component is responsible for managing the lifecycle of the Tomcat server. It includes the startup and shutdown processes and the configuration files that define the server’s behavior.

Web Applications

Web applications are the main components that run on the Tomcat server. A web application can be a collection of web pages, servlets, and other resources deployed and accessed by users over the internet.


Clustering is a feature of Tomcat that allows multiple Tomcat servers to work together as a single server to handle high volumes of traffic. It provides load balancing, failover, and session replication capabilities to improve performance and availability.


Tomcat provides several security features to protect applications from malicious attacks and unauthorized access. This includes role-based access control, data encryption, and support for SSL/TLS protocols. It also supports authentication and authorization mechanisms like LDAP, JAAS, and CAS.


Tomcat provides a web-based administration tool that allows users to perform various tasks, such as deploying, configuring, and managing applications. The admin console also provides diagnostic tools to troubleshoot issues.


Deploying Web Applications In Tomcat

Tomcat is an open-source product released under the Apache License, making it accessible and available. To deploy a web application in Tomcat, there are a few simple steps:

Install and Configure Tomcat

Before deploying any web application in Tomcat, you need to have a working installation of the Tomcat server. The installation involves downloading the Tomcat binary files and extracting them from your local machine’s directory.

You then need to configure the server by setting up the environment variables, configuring the server.xml file, and setting up the user accounts.

Package Your Web Application

Once you have a working Tomcat installation, you must package your web application into a WAR (Web Application Archive) file. The WAR file is a compressed file that contains all the files and directories required for your web application to run, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java classes, JSP pages, and libraries.

Deploy the WAR File

To deploy your web application, copy the WAR file to the Tomcat server’s web apps directory. This directory is located in the Tomcat installation directory and contains the root context of all web applications deployed on the server.

When you copy the WAR file to this directory, Tomcat automatically unpacks the WAR file and creates a new directory with the same name as the WAR file.

Configure the Context

Once you have deployed the WAR file, you need to configure the context of your web application. The context is a configuration file that defines the behavior of your web application. You can configure the context using an XML file or create a context descriptor file with a .xml extension and place it in the META-INF directory of your web application.

Test Your Web Application

After deploying and configuring your web application, you can test it by accessing the URL of your web application in a web browser. If your web application is running correctly, you should be able to see the home page of your application.

Monitor The Application

Web hosting services offer various tools to monitor and manage web applications. Through the web-based administration console, you can access information about the application, including the current memory usage and the number of active sessions.


Benefits of Selecting the Appropriate Tomcat Hosting Service

When it comes to web application development, Tomcat is an invaluable tool. It provides a reliable and robust platform for deploying Java applications and services.

As such, you must select the appropriate hosting service to ensure your application runs smoothly and efficiently. Here are some of the critical benefits of choosing the exemplary Tomcat hosting service:

Enhanced Performance

With the exemplary Tomcat hosting service, you can ensure that your web applications run at optimal speeds and performance levels. Depending on your specific hosting provider, you may also have access to additional services such as enhanced security measures and optimized performance monitoring tools.

Cost Savings

Utilizing Tomcat hosting saves you money for purchasing expensive software and hardware. This can significantly benefit small businesses or startups needing more money for such expenses.

Automated Configuration

The right Tomcat hosting service will allow you to quickly and easily configure your application environment through automated configurations, ensuring seamless integration with your existing or planned applications.


Tomcat hosting provides a dependable platform for running your web applications, reducing the risk of downtime and ensuring users have reliable access to your services.


With Tomcat hosting, you can quickly and easily scale your application based on user needs and traffic levels. This ensures your application can handle sudden spikes in demand and allows you to use cloud-based scalability options.

Technical Support

A reliable Tomcat hosting service provides technical support to assist you with any issues, ensuring your application is always up and running. Technical support is essential because it allows you to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently, reducing downtime and potential loss of revenue.


Tomcat hosting services often provide troubleshooting resources and support to help you quickly diagnose and resolve potential issues.


With a quality Tomcat hosting service, you can be assured that your data is securely backed up and stored in the event of any unexpected outages. Backups are essential because they enable you to recover your data during a disaster, such as hardware failure or cyber-attacks.



Tomcat is a compelling web application server that enables developers to quickly and easily create Java-based applications. It’s easy to set up, configure, and deploy web applications using Tomcat, making it the perfect choice for organizations looking to launch Java-based projects.

Tomcat has been around for over 20 years and is a staple in the Java web application space, with its robust features, scalability, and comprehensive support network. provides an easy-to-follow guide on installing and configuring Tomcat on a Ubuntu server, removing the fuss of setting up your web application.


Next Steps: What Now?


Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Use of Tomcat Server in Java?

Tomcat is a web server that hosts and serves Java applications over the internet. It provides an environment for running Java-based web applications, including servlets and Java Server Pages (JSPs), as well as other related components.

Is Tomcat a Java Application?

Yes, Tomcat is a Java application. It is an open-source web server and servlet container developed by the Apache Software Foundation. The Java servlet, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and Java Expression Language (EL) technologies are used to create web applications.

What Is Tomcat in Web Technology?

Tomcat is an open-source web server and servlet container developed by the Apache Software Foundation. It implements the Java Servlet, Java Server Pages, Java Expression Language, and WebSocket technologies.

Tomcat is famous for powering web applications due to its robust features, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

Is Tomcat Free to Use?

Yes, Tomcat is free to use, and it is open-source. You can download it from the Apache website. Many versions of Tomcat are available, from the core engine to the web apps and other components.

How Do I Install and Configure Tomcat?

Installing and configuring Tomcat is a relatively straightforward process. It requires downloading the appropriate version of the Tomcat binary, unzipping it, setting the environment variables, and configuring the server.

You can find detailed instructions on the Apache Tomcat website and in various online tutorials.

What Services Are Provided by Tomcat?

Tomcat provides several services to support developing and deploying Java web applications. These include a servlet container, Java Server Pages (JSP) engine, Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) access, and a web application deployment platform.

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