Fork me on GitHub
<< back to Getting Started

How To Create A Struts 2 Web Application

This tutorial walks through installing the framework and creating a simple application.

While the Struts 2 framework is simple to use, creating non-trivial applications assumes a working knowledge of many J2EE technologies, including:
  • Java
  • Filters, JSP, and Tag Libraries
  • JavaBeans
  • HTML and HTTP
  • Web Containers (such as Tomcat)
  • XML

For more about supporting technologies, see the Key Technologies Primer.

Java Requirements

Struts 2 requires Servlet API 2.4 or higher, JSP 2.0 or higher, and Java 7 or higher.

Our First Application

To get started using Struts 2 we will create a web application using Maven to manage the artifact dependencies. You can checkout all the example applications from the Struts 2 GitHub repository at struts-examples.

Create Struts 2 Web Application Using Maven To Manage Artifacts and To Build The Application

This tutorial assumes you know how to create a Java web application that uses Maven to manage artifacts and build the web application archive (war) file.

Step 1 - Create A Java Web Application

In your Java IDE create a Java web application with a project name of basic_struts that follows the standard Maven project folder structure. In your pom.xml include the following:

pom.xml build node

<build>
    <finalName>basic-struts</finalName>
</build>
to run the application using maven, add the jetty maven-plugin to your pom.xml

pom.xml jetty plugin

<build>
    ...   
    <plugins>
        <plugin>
            <groupId>org.mortbay.jetty</groupId>
            <artifactId>jetty-maven-plugin</artifactId>
            <version>8.1.16.v20140903</version>
            <configuration>
                <webApp>
                    <contextPath>/${build.finalName}</contextPath>
                </webApp>
                <stopKey>CTRL+C</stopKey>
                <stopPort>8999</stopPort>
                <scanIntervalSeconds>10</scanIntervalSeconds>
                <scanTargets>
                    <scanTarget>src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml</scanTarget>
                </scanTargets>
            </configuration>
        </plugin>
    </plugins>
</build>

The above plugin will enable you to run the application using mvn jetty:run

Step 2 - Add index.jsp

Our next step is to add a simple index.jsp to this web application. Create an index.jsp under src/main/webapp with a title of Basic Struts 2 Application - Welcome and in the body add an h1 heading of Welcome to Struts 2!

index.jsp

<!DOCTYPE html>
<%@ page language="java" contentType="text/html; charset=UTF-8" pageEncoding="UTF-8" %>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Basic Struts 2 Application - Welcome</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Welcome To Struts 2!</h1>
  </body>
</html>

Run mvn jetty:run to run the application.

In a web browser go to http://localhost:8080/basic-struts/index.jsp. You should see the following:

basic_struts2_maven_jsp.png

Step 3 - Add Struts 2 Jar Files To Class Path

Now that we know we have a working Java web application, lets add the minimal required Struts 2 framework Jar files to our web application’s class path. In pom.xml add the following dependency node:

pom.xml dependency node

<dependency>
    <groupId>org.apache.struts</groupId>
    <artifactId>struts2-core</artifactId>
    <version>X.X.X.X</version>
</dependency>

Of course replace the X.X.X.X with the current Struts 2 version. Maven will get the struts2-core jar and the other jar files struts2-core requires (transitive dependencies).

Beginning with Struts version 2.2.3 you do not need to specify a separate dependency node for javassist.

Step 4 - Add Logging

To see what’s happening under the hood, the example application for this tutorial uses log4j2. You’ll need to add a dependency node for log4j2 to the pom:

pom.xml log4j dependency node

<dependency>
    <groupId>org.apache.logging.log4j</groupId>
    <artifactId>log4j-core</artifactId>
    <version>2.8.2</version>
</dependency>

Setup a log4j2.xml configuration in the src/main/resources folder which contains the following

log4j2.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Configuration>
    <Appenders>
        <Console name="STDOUT" target="SYSTEM_OUT">
            <PatternLayout pattern="%d %-5p [%t] %C{2} (%F:%L) - %m%n"/>
        </Console>
    </Appenders>
    <Loggers>
        <Logger name="com.opensymphony.xwork2" level="debug"/>
        <Logger name="org.apache.struts2" level="debug"/>
        <Root level="warn">
            <AppenderRef ref="STDOUT"/>
        </Root>
    </Loggers>
</Configuration>

Note the above log4j2 configuration specifies the console as the log target.

Step 5 - Add Struts 2 Servlet Filter

To enable the Struts 2 framework to work with your web application you need to add a Servlet filter class and filter mapping to web.xml. Below is the filter and filter-mapping nodes you should add to web.xml.

web.xml Servlet Filter

<filter>
    <filter-name>struts2</filter-name>
    <filter-class>org.apache.struts2.dispatcher.filter.StrutsPrepareAndExecuteFilter</filter-class>
</filter>

<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>struts2</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
</filter-mapping>

For more information about configuring the deployment descriptor for Struts 2 see web.xml. Note the url-pattern node value is /* meaning the Struts 2 filter will be applied to all URLs for this web application.

Step 6 - Create struts.xml

Struts 2 can use either an XML configuration file or annotations (or both) to specify the relationship between a URL, a Java class, and a view page (such as index.jsp). For our basic Struts 2 application, we’ll use a minimal xml configuration. Note the file name is struts.xml and it should be in the src/main/resources folder (struts.xml must be on the web application’s root class path).

struts.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE struts PUBLIC
    "-//Apache Software Foundation//DTD Struts Configuration 2.5//EN"
    "http://struts.apache.org/dtds/struts-2.5.dtd">

<struts>

    <constant name="struts.devMode" value="true" />

    <package name="basicstruts2" extends="struts-default">
        <action name="index">
            <result>/index.jsp</result>
        </action>
    </package>

</struts>

This minimal Struts 2 configuration file tells the framework that if the URL ends in index.action to redirect the browser to index.jsp.

For more information about the struts.xml configuration file see struts.xml.

Step 7 - Build and Run the Application

Run mvn jetty:run to run the web-application using the jetty maven-plugin.

View the console where you should see numerous debug messages that tell you the Struts 2 framework is being included in the basic-struts2 web application.

Open a web browser and go to http://localhost:8080/basic-struts/index.action (note that’s index.action not index.jsp at the end of the URL). You should see the same web page as when going to http://localhost:8080/basic-struts/index.jsp. View the log messages written to the console and you should find several that discuss index.action and index.jsp:

Struts 2 Log Messages

...
2017-04-17 11:16:01,084 DEBUG [qtp1723848804-22] xwork2.DefaultActionProxy (DefaultActionProxy.java:89) - Creating an DefaultActionProxy for namespace [/] and action name [index]
...
2017-04-17 11:16:01,172 DEBUG [qtp1723848804-22] result.ServletDispatcherResult (ServletDispatcherResult.java:131) - Forwarding to location: /index.jsp
...

Getting Help

The Struts 2 user mailing list is an excellent place to get help. If you are having a problem getting this Basic Struts 2 application to work search the Struts 2 mailing list. If you don’t find an answer to your problem, post a question on the mailing list.

Return to Getting started or onward to Hello World using Struts 2