|Original author(s)||James Duncan Davidson|
|Developer(s)||The Apache Software Foundation|
10.1.6 / 24 February 2023
HTTP web server
Apache Tomcat (called "Tomcat" for short) is a free and open-source implementation of the Jakarta Servlet, Jakarta Expression Language, and WebSocket technologies. It provides a "pure Java" HTTP web server environment in which Java code can also run. Thus it is a Java web application server, although not a full JEE application server.
Tomcat is developed and maintained by an open community of developers under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation, released under the Apache License 2.0 license.
Tomcat 4.x was released with Catalina (a servlet container), Coyote (an HTTP connector) and Jasper (a JSP engine).
Catalina is Tomcat's servlet container. Catalina implements Sun Microsystems' specifications for servlet and JavaServer Pages (JSP). In Tomcat, a Realm element represents a "database" of usernames, passwords, and roles (similar to Unix groups) assigned to those users. Different implementations of Realm allow Catalina to be integrated into environments where such authentication information is already being created and maintained, and then use that information to implement Container Managed Security as described in the Servlet Specification.
Coyote is a Connector component for Tomcat that supports the HTTP 1.1 and 2 protocol as a web server. This allows Catalina, nominally a Java Servlet or JSP container, to also act as a plain web server that serves local files as HTTP documents. Coyote listens for incoming connections to the server on a specific TCP port and forwards the request to the Tomcat Engine to process the request and send back a response to the requesting client. Another Coyote Connector, Coyote JK, listens similarly but instead forwards its requests to another web server, such as Apache, using the JK Protocol. This usually offers better performance.
Jasper is Tomcat's JSP Engine. Jasper parses JSP files to compile them into Java code as servlets (that can be handled by Catalina). At runtime, Jasper detects changes to JSP files and recompiles them.
As of version 5, Tomcat uses Jasper 2, which is an implementation of the Sun Microsystems' JSP 2.0 specification. From Jasper to Jasper 2, important features were added:
- JSP Tag library pooling – Each tag markup in JSP file is handled by a tag handler class. Tag handler class objects can be pooled and reused in the whole JSP servlet.
- Background JSP compilation – While recompiling modified JSP Java code, the older version is still available for server requests. The older JSP servlet is deleted once the new JSP servlet has finished being recompiled.
- Recompile JSP when included page changes – pages can be inserted and included into a JSP at runtime. The JSP will not only be recompiled with JSP file changes but also with included page changes.
- JDT Java compiler – Jasper 2 can use the Eclipse JDT (Java Development Tools) Java compiler instead of Ant and
Three new components were added with the release of Tomcat 7:
This component has been added to manage large applications. It is used for load balancing that can be achieved through many techniques. Clustering support currently requires the JDK version 1.5 or higher.
A high-availability feature has been added to facilitate the scheduling of system upgrades (e.g. new releases, change requests) without affecting the live environment. This is done by dispatching live traffic requests to a temporary server on a different port while the main server is upgraded on the main port. It is very useful in handling user requests on high-traffic web applications.
Tomcat 8.x implements the Servlet 3.1 and JSP 2.3 Specifications. Apache Tomcat 8.5.x is intended to replace 8.0.x and includes new features pulled forward from Tomcat 9.0.x. The minimum Java version and implemented specification versions remain unchanged.
Tomcat 9.x implements the Servlet 4.0 and JSP 2.3 Specifications.
Tomcat 10.0.x implements the Servlet 5.0 and JSP 3.0 Specifications.
Tomcat 10.1.x implements the Servlet 6.0 and JSP 3.1 Specifications.
Tomcat started off as a servlet reference implementation by James Duncan Davidson, a software architect at Sun Microsystems. He later helped make the project open-source and played a key role in its donation by Sun Microsystems to the Apache Software Foundation. The Apache Ant software build automation tool was developed as a side-effect of the creation of Tomcat as an open source project.
Davidson had initially hoped that the project would become open-sourced and, since many open-source projects had O'Reilly books associated with them featuring an animal on the cover, he wanted to name the project after an animal. He came up with Tomcat since he reasoned the animal represented something that could fend for itself. Although the tomcat was already in use for another O'Reilly title, his wish to see an animal cover eventually came true when O'Reilly published their Tomcat book with a snow leopard on the cover in 2003.
|Series||Declared stable||Description||Latest release||Latest release date||End of life|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.0||1998||Tomcat started off in November 1998 as a servlet reference implementation by James Duncan Davidson, a software architect at Sun Microsystems.||?||?||?|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 3.0||1999||Initial release. Merger of donated Sun Java Web Server code and ASF and Implements Servlet 2.2, and JSP 1.1 specifications.||3.3.2||2004-03-09||?|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 4.1||2002-09-06||First Apache Tomcat release to support the Servlet 2.3 and JSP 1.2 specifications.||4.1.40||2009-06-25||?|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.0||2003-12-03||Supports the Servlet 2.4, JSP 2.0, and EL 1.1 specifications.||5.0.30||2004-08-30||?|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.5||2004-11-10||Designed for J2SE 5.0. Inclusion of Eclipse JDT allows Tomcat to run without a full Java Development Kit being installed.||5.5.36||2012-10-10||2012-09-30|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 6.0||2007-02-28||Supports the Servlet 2.5, JSP 2.1, and EL 2.1 specifications.||6.0.53||2017-04-07||2016-12-31|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 7.0||2011-01-14||Supports the Servlet 3.0, JSP 2.2, EL 2.2, and WebSocket specifications.||7.0.109||2021-04-26||2021-03-31|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 8.0||2014-06-25||Supports the Servlet 3.1, JSP 2.3, and EL 3.0 specifications.||8.0.53||2018-07-05||2018-06-30|
|Older version, yet still maintained: 8.5||2016-06-13||Adds support for HTTP/2, OpenSSL for JSSE, TLS virtual hosting and JASPIC 1.1. Created from Tomcat 9, following delays to Java EE 8.||8.5.86||2023-02-24||2024-03-31|
|Older version, yet still maintained: 9.0||2018-01-18||Supports the Servlet 4.0 specifications.||9.0.72||2023-02-23||?|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 10.0||2021-02-02||Supports the Servlet 5.0, JSP 3.0, EL 4.0, WebSocket 2.0 and Authentication 2.0 specifications.||10.0.27||2022-10-10||2022-10-31|
|Current stable version: 10.1||2022-09-26||Supports the Jakarta Servlet 6.0, JSP 3.1, EL 5.0, WebSocket 2.1, and JASPIC 3.0 specifications.||10.1.6||2023-02-24||?|
|Latest preview version of a future release: 11.0||(alpha)||Supports the Jakarta Servlet 6.1, JSP 4.0, and as-yet-to-be-determined versions of EL, WebSocket, and JASPIC specifications.||11.0.0-M3||2023-02-23||TBA|
Older version, still maintained
Latest preview version
Apache TomEE (pronounced "Tommy") is the Java Enterprise Edition of Apache Tomcat (Tomcat + Java EE = TomEE) that combines several Java enterprise projects including Apache OpenEJB, Apache OpenWebBeans, Apache OpenJPA, Apache MyFaces and others. In October 2011, the project obtained certification by Oracle Corporation as a compatible implementation of the Java EE 6 Web Profile.
- WildFly, formerly known as JBoss Application Server
- Jetty (web server)
- GlassFish, the reference implementation of Jakarta EE (and Java EE before that), supporting EJB, JPA, JSF, JMS, Java RMI, JSP, servlets etc.
- Comparison of web server software
Related software that is now obsolete or defunct:
- MuleSoft, producer of Tcat, an enterprise Tomcat server
- Apache Geronimo, an application server that can use Tomcat as its web container
- Resin (software), an application server from Caucho Technology
- JOnAS, an application server that can use Tomcat as its web container
- Apache OpenEJB can be added to Tomcat to turn it into a JavaEE server
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