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Handling Cookies

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Cookies are small bits of textual information that the Web server sends to the browser and that the browser returns unchanged when visiting the same Web site or domain later


A D V E R T I S E M E N T



Advantages of using Cookies

By having the server read information it sent the client previously, the site can provide visitors with the number of conveniences:

  • Identifying the user during an e-commerce session. Many on-line stores use the "shopping cart" metaphor in which the user selects an item, adds it to his shopping cart, then continues shopping. Since HTTP connection is closed after each page is sent, when the user select a new item for his cart, how does the store know that he is the same user that put the previous item in his cart? Cookies are the good way of accomplishing this. In fact, this is so useful that servlet have an API specifically for this, and servlet authors don't need to manipulate cookies directly to make use of it.

  • Avoiding username and password. Many large sites require you to register in order to use their service, but it is inconvenient to remember the username and password. Cookies are the good alternative for low-security sites. When a user registers, a cookie is sent with a unique user ID. When the client reconnects at the later date, the user ID is returned, the server looks it up, determines it belongs to the registered user, and doesn't require an explicit username and password.

  • Customizing a site. Many "portal" sites let you customize the look of main page. They use cookies to remember what you wanted, so that you get that result initially for the next time. I'll give an example like this later in this section of the tutorial.

  • Focusing advertising. The search engine charge their customers much more for displaying "directed" ads than "random" ads. That is, if you do a search on "Java Servlets", a search site can charge much more for an ad for the servlets development environment than an ad for an on-line travel agent. On the other hand, if the search had been "Bali Hotels", the situation would be the reversed. The problem is that they have to show a random ad when you first arrive and haven't yet performed the search, as well as when you search on something that doesn't match any ad categories. Cookies let them remember "Oh, that's the person who was searching for such and such previously" and displays an appropriate (read "high priced") ad instead of a random (read "cheap") one.




Creating Cookies

A Cookie is created by calling Cookie constructor, which takes two string: the cookie name and the cookie value

The following example describes how to create a cookie

Cookie userCookie = new Cookie("user", "uid1234"); response.addCookie(userCookie);



Getting the Value of a Cookie with a Specified Name

The following example called cookie.java that slightly simplify the retrieval of a cookie value given a cookie name by looping through the array of available Cookie objects, returning the value of any Cookie whose name matches the input. If there is no match, the designated default value is returned. :

public static String getCookieValue(Cookie[] cookies,
String cookieName,
String defaultValue)
{
for(int i=0; i {
Cookie cookie = cookies[i];
if (cookieName.equals(cookie.getName()))
return(cookie.getValue());
}
return(defaultValue);
}


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Keywords: cookies in servlet,servlet request getparameter,servlet web xml,javascript cookies,servlet tutorial,cookies in java,servlet examples

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