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Struts Interview Questions and Answers

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Intermediate / 1 to 5 years experienced level questions & answers

Ques 1. Give the Details of XML files used in Validator Framework?

The Validator Framework uses two XML configuration files validator-rules.xml and validation.xml. The validator-rules.xml defines the standard validation routines, these are reusable and used in validation.xml. to define the form specific validations. The validation.xml defines the validations applied to a form bean. How you will display validation fail errors on jsp page? - The following tag displays all the errors: < html:errors/ >

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Ques 2. How does Struts work?

Java Servlets are designed to handle requests made by Web browsers. Java ServerPages are designed to create dynamic Web pages that can turn billboard sites into live applications. Struts uses a special Servlet as a switchboard to route requests from Web browsers to the appropriate ServerPage. This makes Web applications much easier to design, create, and maintain.

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Ques 3. Are the Struts tags XHTML compliant ?

If you use an <html:html xhtml="true> or <html:xhtml/> element on your page, the tags will render as XHTML (since Struts 1.1).

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Ques 4. Do ActionForms have to be true JavaBeans?

The utilities that Struts uses (Commons-BeanUtils since 1.1) require that ActionForm properties follow the JavaBean patterns for mutators and accessors (get*,set*,is*). Since Struts uses the Introspection API with the ActionForms, some containers may require that all the JavaBean patterns be followed, including declaring "implements Serializable" for each subclass. The safest thing is to review the JavaBean specification and follow all the prescribed patterns.
Since Struts 1.1, you can also use DynaActionForms and mapped-backed forms, which are not true JavaBeans. For more see ActionForm classes in the User Guide and Using Hashmaps with ActionForms in this FAQ.

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Ques 5. Can I use multiple HTML form elements with the same name?

Yes. Define the element as an array and Struts will autopopulate it like any other.
private String[] id= {};
public String[] getId() { return; }
public void setItem(String id[]) { = id;}
And so forth

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Ques 6. Why are my checkboxes not being set from ON to OFF?

A problem with a checkbox is that the browser will only include it in the request when it is checked. If it is not checked, the HTML specification suggests that it not be sent (i.e. omitted from the request). If the value of the checkbox is being persisted, either in a session bean or in the model, a checked box can never unchecked by a HTML form -- because the form can never send a signal to uncheck the box. The application must somehow ascertain that since the element was not sent that the corresponding value is unchecked.
The recommended approach for Struts applications is to use the reset method in the ActionForm to set all properties represented by checkboxes to null or false. The checked boxes submitted by the form will then set those properties to true. The omitted properties will remain false. Another solution is to use radio buttons instead, which always submit a value.
It is important to note that the HTML specification recommends this same behavior whenever a control is not "successful". Any blank element in a HTML form is not guaranteed to submitted. It is therefor very important to set the default values for an ActionForm correctly, and to implement the reset method when the ActionForm might kept in session scope.

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Ques 7. Why do the Struts tags provide for so little formatting?

The Struts tags seem to provide only the most rudimentary functionality. Why is there not better support for date formatting and advanced string handling?
Three reasons:
First, work started on the JSTL and we didn't want to duplicate the effort.
Second, work started on Java Server Faces, and we didn't want to duplicate that effort either.
Third, in a Model 2 application, most of the formatting can be handled in the ActionForms (or in the business tier), so all the tag has to do is spit out a string. This leads to better reuse since the same "how to format" code does not need to be repeated in every instance. You can "say it once" in a JavaBean and be done with it. Why don't the Struts taglibs offer more layout options?
Since the Struts tags are open source, you can extend them to provide whatever additional formatting you may need. If you are interested in a pre-written taglib that offers more layout options, see the struts-layout taglib.
In the same arena, there is a well regarded contributor taglib that can help you create Menus for your Struts applications.

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Ques 8. Why does the option tag render selected=selected instead of just selected?

Attribute minimization (that is, specifying an attribute with no value) is a place where HTML violates standard XML syntax rules. This matters a lot for people writing to browsers that support XHTML, where doing so makes the page invalid. It's much better for Struts to use the expanded syntax, which works the same on existing browsers interpreting HTML, and newer browsers that expect XHTML-compliant syntax. Struts is following the behavior recommended by the XHTML specification.

<select id="item" name="item" selected="selected">
<option value="option1">Option1</option>
<option value="option2">Option2</option>

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Ques 9. Do I have to use JSPs with my application?

The short answer to this question is: No, you are not limited to JavaServer Pages.
The longer answer is that you can use any type of presentation technology which can be returned by a web server or Java container. The list includes but is not limited to:
* JavaServer Pages,
* HTML pages,
* WML files,
* Java servlets,
* Velocity templates, and
Some people even mix and match apparently unrelated technologies, like PHP, into the same web application.

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Ques 10. Can I have an Action without a form?

Yes. If your Action does not need any data and it does
not need to make any data available to the view or
controller component that it forwards to, it doesn't need
a form. A good example of an Action with no ActionForm is
the LogoffAction in the struts example application:

<action path="/logoff"
<forward name="success" path="/index.jsp"/>

This action needs no data other than the user's session, which
it can get from the Request, and it doesn't need to prepare any
view elements for display, so it does not need a form.

However, you cannot use the <html:form> tag without
an ActionForm. Even if you want to use the <html:form>
tag with a simple Action that does not require input,
the tag will expect you to use some type of ActionForm,
even if it is an empty subclass without any properties.

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Ques 11. Can you give me a simple example of using the requiredif Validator rule?

First off, there's an even newer Validator rule called
validwhen, which is almost certainly what you want to use,
since it is much easier and more powerful.
It will be available in the first release after 1.1 ships.
The example shown below could be coded with validwhen as:

property="pregnancyTest" depends="validwhen">

((((sex == 'm') OR (sex == 'M'))
AND (*this* == null)) OR (*this* != null))

Let's assume you have a medical information form
with three fields,
sex, pregnancyTest, and testResult. If sex is 'f' or 'F',
pregnancyTest is required. If pregnancyTest is not blank,
testResult is required. The entry in your validation.xml
file would look like this:

property="pregnancyTest" depends="requiredif">








property="testResult" depends="requiredif">



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Ques 12. When is the best time to validate input?

This is an excellent question. Let's step back a second and think about a typical mid to large size application. If we start from the back end and work toward the view we have:
1) Database: Most modern databases are going to validate for required fields, duplicate records, security constraints, etc.
2) Business Logic: Here you are going to check for valid data relationships and things that make sense for the particular problem you are triing to solve.
... This is where struts comes into the picture, by now the system should be pretty well bulletproof. What we are going to do is make validation friendlier and informative. Rember it is OK to have duplicate validations...
3) ActionErrors validate(ActionMapping map, HttpServletRequest req) is where you can do your validation and feed back to the view, information required to correct any errors. validate is run after the form has been reset and after the ActionForm properties have been set from corresponding view based input. Also remember you can turn validation off with validate="false" in the action mapping in the struts-config.xml. This is done by returning an ActionErrors collection with messages from your file.
Here you have access to the request so you can see what kinds of action is being requested to fine tune your validations. The <html:error> tag allows you to dump all errors on your page or a particular error associated with a particular property. The input attribute of the struts-config.xml action allows you to send validation errors to a particular jsp / html / tile page.
4) You can have the system perform low level validations and client side feedback using a ValidatorForm or its derivatives. This will generate javascript and give instant feedback to the user for simple data entry errors. You code your validations in the validator-rules.xml file. A working knowledge of regular expressions is necessary to use this feature effectively.

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Ques 13. Declarative Exception Handling

If you have developed web applications long enough, you will realize a recurring pattern emerges: when the backend (e.g. the EJB tier) throws you an exception, you nearly always need to display an error page corresponding to the type of that exception. Sooner or later, you will come up with a mechanism to use a lookup table (e.g. an HashMap) to lookup an error page from the exception class.
Struts 1.1 now provides a similar but more powerful mechanism to declare exception handling. In Struts 1.1, you can declare in the struts-config.xml the associations between an exception class and an exception handler. Using the default exception handler included in Struts, you can also specify the path of the error pages. With this information, Struts will automatically forward to the specified pages when an uncaught exception is thrown from an Action.
Like other facilities in Struts, the exception handlers are pluggable. You can write and define your own handler classes if needed. 

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Ques 14. Multiple Sub-applications

One of the shortcomings in Struts 1.0 is manageability of the configuration file (commonly known as struts-config.xml) when the development of the application involves a sizable team. This problem arises because a Struts-based application must run under one controller servlet, the ActionServlet, and the ActionServlet can use only one struts-config.xml. It is not an issue when the project is relatively small and the team consists of a couple of developers; however, when the project size becomes significant and the project involves a large number of developers, maintaining all the mapping information in a single file becomes increasingly problematic.
Struts 1.1 solves this problem nicely by introducing multiple sub-applications. In Struts 1.1, each sub-application has its own struts-config.xml file. A large Struts-based application can thus be easily partitioned into largely independent modules, i.e. sub-applications, and each sub-team can maintain their struts-config.xml independently.
The sub-application scheme is a natural extension of the servlet context mapping scheme of the URI paths used by servlet containers. According to the Servlet standard, when the servlet container receives a request with a URL, the servlet container will try to match the prefix of the URI path to a deployed web-application in the container. What Struts 1.1 does is it maps the second prefix of the path to a sub-application. In effect, this prefix mapping scheme creates another level of namespace for each sub-application. For example, for the URI,
/myApp is the context path for a web-application called "myApp" and /module2 is the sub-app prefix for a Struts sub-application called "module2".

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Ques 15. DynaBean and BeanUtils

Another major complaint usually heard amongst Struts 1.0 users is the extensive effort involved in writing the FormBean (a.k.a. ActionForm) classes.
Struts provides two-way automatic population between HTML forms and Java objects, the FormBeans. To take advantage of this however, you have to write one FormBean per HTML form. (In some use cases, a FormBean can actually be shared between multiple HTML forms. But those are specific cases.) Struts' FormBean standard follows faithfully the verbose JavaBean standard to define and access properties. Besides, to encourage a maintainable architecture, Struts enforces a pattern such that it is very difficult to 'reuse' a model-layer object (e.g. a ValueObject from the EJB tier) as a FormBean. Combining all these factors, a developer has to spend a significant amount of time to write tedious getters/setters for all the FormBean classes.
Struts 1.1 offers an alternative, Dynamic ActionForms, which are based on DynaBeans. Simply put, DynaBeans are type-safe name-value pairs (think HashMaps) but behave like normal JavaBeans with the help of the BeanUtils library. (Both the DynaBeans and the BeanUtils library were found to be useful and generic enough that they have been 'promoted' into Jakarta's Commons project.) With Dynamic ActionForms, instead of coding the tedious setters/getters, developers can declare the required properties in the struts-config.xml files. Struts will instantiate and initialize Dynamic ActionForm objects with the appropriate metadata. From then onwards, The Dynamic ActionForm instance is treated as if it is an ordinary JavaBean by Struts and the BeanUtils library. 

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Ques 16. Default Sub-application

To maintain backward compatibility, Struts 1.1 allows one default sub-application per application. The URI of the resources (i.e. JSPs, HTMLs, etc) in the default sub-application will have an empty sub-app prefix. This means when an existing 1.0 application is "dropped" into Struts 1.1, theoretically, it will automatically become the default sub-application.

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