JSP Tag Libraries

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Servlet technology, the first server-side Java offering, was introduced in 1996. Web developers could now create Java components that extended the web server to provide dynamic content to their users. Servlets were followed by other technologies, such as JavaServer Pages and, more recently, by custom JSP tag libraries which aim to give nonprogrammers and web designers all the power of Java with a simple, tag-based syntax.

When servlets first appeared, we used them in real-world projects and saw how useful Java was for creating dynamic, data-driven sites. However, servlets and JSP were still too difficult for nonprogrammers to use, requiring them to learn at least some Java to accomplish most tasks. With the arrival of JSP tags, developing dynamic content with JSP became easier than ever. For the first time, it was possible for the HTML developer to perform complex operations like querying databases, iterating results, and performing other server-side activities without needing to understand any high-level programming language. The Java community has been quick to see the merits of this new technology, with dozens of companies and organizations already offering custom JSP tag libraries that perform everything from database access to translation of content for wireless devices.

The amazing experience we had working with custom JSP tags is what drove us to write this book. Its goal is to share our hard-earned knowledge with you, our readers, so you can begin building tags that suit the needs of your applications. We hope that you will share our excitement.


The Tag Library Descriptor

B.1 TLD elements 598

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