Servlet and life cycle of Servlet

Short Answer

A servlet is a Java program that runs on a web server. It helps websites interact with users by handling their requests and sending back responses. Think of it as a middleman between a user’s web browser and the server’s data and applications.

The life cycle of a servlet includes several steps:

  1. Loading and Initialization: First, the web server loads the servlet and then initializes it by calling its init method. This step gets the servlet ready to handle requests.
  2. Handling Requests: Whenever a user sends a request, the server calls the servlet’s service method. This method checks the type of request (like GET or POST) and handles it accordingly.
  3. Termination: Finally, when the servlet is no longer needed, the server calls its destroy method. This method cleans up resources before the servlet is removed.

This life cycle ensures that a servlet efficiently handles multiple requests while using resources wisely.

Detailed Answer

Introduction to Servlets

Servlets are Java programs that extend the capabilities of servers hosting applications accessed by means of a request-response programming model. Unlike a standalone Java application, a servlet is designed to handle HTTP requests and generate responses, usually in HTML format, to be viewed in a web browser. This makes servlets a cornerstone of Java-based web development.

The Life Cycle of a Servlet

Understanding the life cycle of a servlet is crucial for developing dynamic web applications. This life cycle is managed by the servlet container (such as Apache Tomcat) and consists of three main phases: initialization, service, and destruction.

1. Initialization

  • Loading: The servlet container loads the servlet class when it’s first requested or when the server starts, depending on the configuration.
  • Instantiation: The container creates an instance of the servlet.
  • Initialization: The init method is called by the servlet container. This method is designed for any startup preparation or resource allocation needed by the servlet. It’s called only once.

2. Service (Handling Requests)

  • Request Handling: Each time a new request comes in, the servlet container calls the service method of the servlet. This method determines the kind of request (GET, POST, etc.) and calls the corresponding method (doGet, doPost, etc.).
  • Processing: The servlet processes the request, interacts with databases or other resources if necessary, and generates a response.
  • Response: The response is sent back to the client. This could be an HTML page, an image, or other data types.

3. Destruction

  • Cleanup: When the servlet is no longer needed, or when the servlet container is shutting down, the destroy method is called. This method is used for cleanup activities, like releasing resources or saving state.
  • Unloading: Finally, the servlet class is unloaded from memory.

Advantages and Use Cases

Servlets are powerful tools for creating dynamic web content. They can handle complex requests, maintain session information, and communicate with databases. This makes them suitable for a wide range of applications, from simple websites to complex enterprise solutions.


  • E-commerce Applications: Servlets can manage user sessions, handle transactions, and interact with databases to retrieve product information.
  • Forms: Servlets can process and store form data submitted by users, such as registration or feedback forms.
  • Dynamic Content: Servlets can generate dynamic web pages based on user requests or database content, ensuring that users see the most up-to-date information.


Servlets are a fundamental part of Java web development, providing a robust way to create dynamic and interactive web applications. By understanding the servlet life cycle, developers can build efficient, scalable, and maintainable web applications that effectively handle user requests and generate dynamic content. Whether you’re building a small website or a large-scale enterprise application, servlets offer the tools you need to succeed.