JSP and Servlets: What is the difference?

JavaServer Pages (JSP) and Servlets are both fundamental technologies used in Java web development. Understanding their differences is crucial for any aspiring Java developer. In this post, we will learn the difference between JSP and Servlets in detail.

Let’s understand the difference between JSP and Servlets from the following table:

AspectServletsJSP (JavaServer Pages)
DefinitionJava classes that handle requests and responses.HTML pages with embedded Java code.
SyntaxPure Java code, HTML within Java print statements.Combines HTML and Java, more intuitive.
Ease of UseRequires knowledge of Java and web protocols.Easier for web designers with HTML knowledge.
CompilationCompiled manually by the developer.Automatically compiled into servlets by the server.
Primary Use CaseHandling complex business logic and processing.Creating and displaying dynamic web content.
Lifecycle Methodsinit(), service(), destroy().Implicitly uses servlet lifecycle methods.
FocusBackend processing, application control.Presentation layer, user interface.
Code StructureJava code with embedded HTML.HTML with embedded Java code.
MVC RoleTypically acts as the Controller.Typically acts as the View.
Session ManagementDirect session handling using HttpSession.Simplified session management with session attributes.
ReadabilityLess readable due to mixed Java and HTML.More readable with clear separation of HTML and Java.
Use of DirectivesNot applicable.Uses directives like <%@ page %>, <%@ include %>.
Tag LibrariesRequires manual import and usage in Java code.Easily integrates with custom tag libraries (JSTL).
Response HandlingDirectly handles HTTP requests and responses.Response is generated by embedding Java in HTML.

Combining JSP and Servlets

In real-world applications, JSP and Servlets are often used together following the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern:

  • Model: Represents the data and business logic (JavaBeans, EJBs).
  • View: JSP pages that display the data.
  • Controller: Servlets that process user requests and control the application flow.