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What are WEB-INF and META-INF directories?

If you're looking at a web application on your Tomcat server you'll see all the files that you would expect - things like an index.html (or perhaps an index.jsp), images, and perhaps style sheets, a robots.txt and a favicon.ico. You'll also see a WEB-INF directory, and perhaps a META-INF directory that are unbrowsable. What are they?

The META-INF directories related to .jar files ... they contain the manifest (list of contents) of a jar and are created when you write a jar file. Then when you unpack it, the directory appears. Web applications, held in .war files, are just special cases of .jars. You should (in theory) be able to safely delete your META-INF directory and content from an installed web application.

The WEB-INF directory contains a heirarcy in which you'll find the necessary configuration information for your web application, and all the class files for your servlets and classes that are called up by your JSPs (Java Server Pages). The WEB-INF directory is a vital component of your web application, which will not run without it!
(written 2007-05-18, updated 2007-05-21)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
A502 - Web Application Deployment - Java - Basic Tools
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  [2422] Looking inside Java classes - javap and javadoc - (2009-09-25)
  [2153] Class Loading and Variable Conversion in Java - (2009-05-02)
  [1909] javax.servlet cannot be resolved - how to solve - (2008-11-26)
  [1771] More HowTo diagrams - MySQL, Tomcat and Java - (2008-08-24)
  [1562] Java Compiler - needs all classes, compiles them all too - (2008-03-03)
  [1082] Straight from the .jar - (2007-02-16)
  [754] tar, jar, war, ear, sar files - (2006-06-10)

A653 - Web Application Deployment - Tomcat - Configuring Web Applications
  [3996] Tips on Tomcat - moving applications around - (2013-02-05)
  [3044] Changing a Servlet - more that just editing and compiling - (2010-11-12)
  [2088] Changing the 404 - file not found - page in Tomcat - (2009-03-18)
  [1564] Default file (MiMe types) for Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat - (2008-03-04)
  [1552] Extra public classes in deploying Apache httpd and Tomcat - (2008-02-24)
  [1074] Java beans and classes, .war and .jar files - (2007-02-10)
  [1006] Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat together tips - (2006-12-24)
  [479] New servlet from old - (2005-10-28)
  [465] Changing Tomcat's web.xml and reloading a web application - (2005-10-15)


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