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From Craig McClanahan <>
Subject Re: Where to store application settings
Date Sat, 26 Mar 2005 04:31:19 GMT
On Fri, 25 Mar 2005 18:35:12 +0000 (UTC), John Brayton
<> wrote:
> Laurent <lg83news <at>> writes:
> > I have a few settings in my webapp (address of the LDAP server, location
> > of 2 or 3 files), which are in the source code at the moment. This makes
> > it difficult to change them (and I have to recompile every time).
> I like to store settings that a system administrator will need to be able to
> change in a configuration "properties"-style file, outside of the webapp
> directory or ".war" file.  XML-based configuration files may be appropriate for
> applications where the configuration options are more complex.  Other options
> include the WEB-INF/web.xml file or, as you said, resource files.
> My reasoning for storing them completely outside of the webapp or ".war" file is:
> * I think it allows you to communicate what you consider application
> "configurations" that a system administrator will need to update.  Everything
> else (Java code, JSP's, Struts and Tiles Config Files, etc.) is "code" and part
> of the application, and therefore not expected to be change once released to
> system administrators.
> * When you release a webapp update, the system administrator can safely
> overwrite the old webapp without losing configuration changes.  Of course, you
> will likely still need to merge new configuration parameters as part of many
> webapp updates.

There's a third benefit to storing information like this outside of
the war file -- you can take the same WAR and deploy it, unchanged, on
a development server, a pre-production testbed, or a production

This is the use case that JNDI environment variables were designed for
in J2EE.  Many of you are probably familiar with using JNDI data
sources to configure JDBC data sources in a way that is totally
external to your webapp.  What is less commonly known is that you can
do the same with configuration properties, using <env-entry> elements.

As an example, lets say you wanted to store the URL of your LDAP
server in some externally configurable spot.  If you put an entry like
this in your web.xml file:


then your initialization code can retrieve it easily:

    InitialContext context = new InitialContext();
    String ldapURL = (String)

and the actual value is configured using the admin tools (or
configuration files) of your favorite server.  For Tomcat, for
instance, you put an <Environment> entry in the server.xml file:


> John
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