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Tomcat: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition by Ian F. Darwin, Jason Brittain

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Controlling Sessions

An HTTP session is a series of interactions between a single HTTP client (e.g., a web browser instance) and a web server such as Tomcat. The servlet specification defines an HttpSession object that temporarily stores information about a user, including a unique session identifier and references to Java objects that the web application stores as attributes of the session. Typical uses of sessions include shopping carts and sites that require users to sign in. Usually, sessions are set to time out after a configurable period of user inactivity, where user inactivity is defined as a pause in requests belonging to the HTTP session. Once a session has timed out, it is said to be an invalid session, and if the user makes a new HTTP request to the site a new, valid session has to be created, usually through a re-login.

Tomcat has pluggable session Managers that handle the logic about how sessions are handled and session Stores to save and load sessions. Not every Manager uses a Store to persist sessions; it is an implementation option to use the Store interface in order to provide pluggable session store capabilities. Robust session Managers will implement some kind of persistent storage for their sessions, regardless of whether they use the Store interface. Specifying a Manager implementation works in a similar fashion to specifying a Realm:

<Manager className="some.manager.implementation.className" customAttribute1="some custom value" customAttribute2="some other custom ...

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