welcome-file-list in web.xml of Servlets

You could have seen the <welcome-file-list> tag in web.xml of  your project and could have wondered the use of it. In this tutorial we will learn how to use this tag effectively.

The welcome-file-list element of web-app, is used to define a list of  all welcome files which will be loaded by default, it has a sub element is welcome-file which is used to define the welcome file.

If Suppose you have created a project “MyProject”, which have its own servlets and html files, but when you call your application like below

http://localhost:8080/MyProject

instead of

http://localhost:8080/MyProject/XXX.html

Then the server will look the <welcome-file-list> tag in your web.xml, if suppose we have a entry in the web.xml for the welcome-file-list

<web-app>
....
    <welcome-file-list>
       <welcome-file>first.htm</welcome-file>
       <welcome-file>home.htm</welcome-file>
       <welcome-file>default.htm</welcome-file>
    </welcome-file-list>
....
</web-app>

The server will start looking for “first.htm”, if it doesn’t exist then it moves to “home.htm” and so on till it finds the valid file. If the <welcome-file-list> is not found then the server will by default looks for the welcome file in following order:

  1. index.html
  2. index.htm
  3. index.jsp

If none of the above mentioned files are found then the server returns 404 error.

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