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From "Craig R. McClanahan" <>
Subject Re: Design question: common/lib --> WEB-INF/lib
Date Fri, 05 Apr 2002 23:45:57 GMT

On Fri, 5 Apr 2002, Mark Shaw wrote:

> Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 15:29:04 -0800
> From: Mark Shaw <>
> Reply-To: Tomcat Users List <>
> To: "''" <>
> Subject: Design question: common/lib --> WEB-INF/lib
> I have a design question I'm guessing someone has already tackled:
> Description:
> I'm developing an application that runs within Tomcat.  All the JARs for
> that application are in it's webapp/WEB-INF/lib, except for a few classes
> that implement a Realm which referenced in server.xml.  Because these
> classes are referenced in server.xml, they need to be in
> {catalina_home}/common/lib.  The problem I have is that my Realm need to use
> my database code, but my database JARs are defined in my webapp lib.  I
> could put everything in common/lib except that I'd like to be able to
> control (start/stop/re-load) my application using the Tomcat manager.
> Question:
> How can my code in common/lib reference objects in webapp/lib?  Do I have to
> do this using JNDI by defining common interfaces in common/lib and returning
> webapp/lib objects from my factories?  Any guidances is appreciated.

Using JNDI is one way, but it can be cumbersome.

Another way is to rely on a requirement in J2EE 1.3 (and therefore in
Servlet 2.3) that requires containers to expose the web application's
class loader:

  ClassLoader webappLoader =
  Class webappClass = webappLoader.loadClass("com.mycompany.MyClass");

This works because the container (Tomcat in this case) always sets the
thread context class loader to the one for the webapp being executed on
the current request thread -- therefore, the classes in /WEB-INF/classes
and /WEB-INF/lib are visible via this class loader, even though the class
containing the above code is loaded from somewhere else.

WARNING - This only works for request processing threads managed by the
container.  If you start your own threads, you are on your own for saving
a reference to the webapp class loader you need.

> Thanks,
> -Mark


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