If your enterprise Java development is light weight and strictly avoids EJBs, you would probably consider Apache Tomcat as your first choice application server. However not only has Tomcat become rather heavy over time but it also isn’t the only option you have.
The list of Java servers is quite long, but it normally comes down to Tomcat, Jetty and Resin.
Apache Tomcat is easily the most popular of the three and the “Powered By Tomcat” section lists some of the more well known names running Tomcat.
Jetty has been around since 1998 and claims to be a “100% Java HTTP Server and Servlet Container”. Its features are 1) Open Source – Apache 2.0 License 2) Small and Efficient 3) Production proven 4) Embeddable
A recent article titled “What is Jetty” says that “Jetty’s real claim to fame is that it is designed be embedded in other Java code. That is, the development team exposes Jetty as a set of JAR files such that you can instantiate and manipulate a servlet container in your own code, as an object. This opens up new possibilities for servlets and web apps.”
Resin is available in two versions, Professional and Open Source. Professional has features commonly needed in a production environment while the Open Source version is said to be suitable for hobbyists and low traffic websites.
In a recent comparison Jetty vs. Tomcat vs. Resin, while Tomcat and Jetty were quite evenly matched, Resin seemed to lag behind. So if it’s between Jetty and Tomcat, how do you decide?
If it’s the community support, documentation and widespread acceptance, Tomcat is the better choice. If it’s speed and light weight, Jetty supporters are convinced that Jetty is better but there are no actual figures to back this up.
The embeddable nature of Jetty is the most common reason why Jetty is recommended. This is also perhaps the reason why Jetty integrations with Geronimo, JBoss and JOnAS are available. However Tomcat can also be embedded using the Embedded class, a convenience class to embed a Catalina servlet container environment inside another application.
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