Programming Assignment 1 - A Dynamic Web Server


Well, maybe you won't win the "Dynamic Web Server of the Year" award - unless they have a booby prize - but it does illustrate some of the ideas involved in dynamic web pages. In a dynamic web page, the content is generated on the fly by a program running on the server. For real dynamic web pages, the program is invoked by the web server. In this assignment, the program is the web server itself.

In this assignment, you will write code for an HTTP server that generates a single dynamic web page (kiss that award goodbye). This web page will just display the HTTP request in a nice HTML format.

Program Requirements

Your server should be capable of responding to HTTP GET and POST requests. Responses to each of these requests need a header. It should be similar to the following:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Connection: close
Date: 4 Feb 2013 16:18:04 GMT
Server: A Dynamic Server
Last-Modified: 4 Feb 2013 16:18:04 GMT
Content-length: 234
Content-Type: text/html


This header must contain a blank line at the end in order to conform to HTTP.

For a GET request, you should return the header followed by the HTML content for the dynamic web page. This content should be formatted like A Dynamic Web Page. You can see the HTML code for this example by following the link and clicking on the "Page Source" menu item in the "View" menu of your browser. All of the data in the web page should come from the request except for the "A Dynamic Web Page" title and the date just below the title.

For a POST request, you should return the same web page as for the GET request with an added section with a header "<h3>Post Data</h3>" followed by a <pre> tag containing the POST data. The POST data is everything in the request following the first blank line.


A starting point for a solution is provided for you in When this file is unzipped it will create a NetBeans project. All of the code is in the pa1 package.

Development and Testing

Without any modification, the provided code should run without crashing, but it is not actually running as a server. Instead, it reads input from from a test file named "get" and sends its output to System.out. The "get" file contains text for a typical GET request. The output you should see is the skeleton of an HTML file. It just has an <html> and a minimal <body> tag. There is no response header and no information obtained from the request.

I recommend that you write the code for the server in stages and test it after each stage. I suggest four natural stages:

Code Suggestions

The blank line after a client's request header must be recognized by your server. For most browsers, the connection is kept alive while waiting for a server response. This means that you will not encounter an end of file until after the server has responded.

In your server code, you will need to do a bit of string manipulation. The String class also has methods for string manipulation such as equals(), indexOf(), startsWith(), and substring(). The StringBuilder class is a great tool for building complex text. Consult the Javadoc API specifications for more details.

Program Validation

You will validate your program in lab on the due date. At that time you should be prepared to demonstrate your servers response to GET and POST requests.

After your server has been demonstrated to the TA, you should also turn in a zipped project file.