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Customize 404 errors in Apache Tomcat

John Bruso

Joined: Dec 16, 2005
Posts: 1
One would think the answer to this question is all over the web. But honestly, I can't find any good answers.

I want to customize (or redirect) the 400-500 errors running on my apache tomcat server.

Oddly, the current 404 message is blank.. doesn't even say 404??

The source of the page is:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<META http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=windows-1252"></HEAD>

I've edited the web.xml file here at the very bottom and restarted the server:
C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Tomcat 5.5\conf\web.xml




Do I need to move this file to somewhere else, like under the webapps directory?

Also, I placed the error404.jsp page isnide this directory:
C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Tomcat 5.5\conf\Catalina\localhost

So, I'm lost... thank you for your help.

Ben Souther

Joined: Dec 11, 2004
Posts: 13410

Each application running under Tomcat will have it's own web.xml file (located under the WEB-INF directory.

The location entry will list the location of the JSP relative to the root of the application.

Example (assuming your app is named "MyApp"):

When Tomcat starts up, it scans the webapps directory for war files or properly constructed directory structures and deploys them as web applications.

Java API J2EE API Servlet Spec JSP Spec How to ask a question... Simple Servlet Examples jsonf
Kat Rollo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2014
Posts: 62

Ben Souther's answer worked for me. +1

Help first. Criticize second.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 17417

Welcome to the JavaRanch, Kat!

Tomcat has, in effect, a "shadow" webapp that lies underneath the actual webapps. It's where requests that cannot be processed using the logic that's in the webapp go.

The most obvious case is when you submit a URL that doesn't map to any of the servlets defined in a webapp's web.xml file. For example, a JSP or image request.

When the URL doesn't fit the app's URL pattern list, it gets sent to this "shadow" app's default servlet, which provides the default action - locating a compiled JSP (and, if necessary compiling it) and invoking its generated servlet code, or for non-code files and directories, copying/listing the contents of the file or directory whose resource location corresponds to the path provided in the URL.

If I tried, I could probably find a way to do what you're asking, but I don't recommend it. The default actions for Tomcat really shouldn't be customized, or the essential portability of web applications becomes compromised. Ideally, a J2EE/JEE web app is self-contained and will operate the same way on any copy of Tomcat in the world. And will require minimal changes to run on any other brand of J2EE/JEE-compliant web application server, such as JBoss.

An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.
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