Struts 2 Tutorial – Getting Started


Struts 2 is an MVC web development framework.  It is based off of Web Work and has far less configuration than the original Struts.  I would strongly recommend Struts 2 over Struts for new development due to the faster development times it allows.  This is a very simple example and follow up posts will be coming shortly to help you develop more complex apps with Struts 2.

Getting Started

Below is an example project layout that you can use for your project.  It may be useful in helping you to decide where in your project to place your various files.

Struts 2 Project Layout

To get started, you’ll need to download the Struts libraries.  At a minimum, you will need to put the following in your WEB-INF/lib directory:

  • struts2-core.jar (The framework itself)
  • xwork.jar (Struts 2 is built on the XWork 2 framework)
  • ognl.jar (Object Graph Notation Language is used throughout the framework to access object properties)
  • freemarker.jar (Freemarker is used to create UI tag templates in Struts 2)
  • commons-logging.jar (Used to log to log4j or JDK logging)

Now we need to add a filter mapping to your web.xml file in order to have the Struts called whenever a page on your site is accessed:

<?xml version="1.0"?> <!DOCTYPE web-app PUBLIC "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD Web Application 2.3//EN" "">



It’s now time to make your first action.

package com.lumidant.tutorial.struts2.action;

import com.opensymphony.xwork2.ActionSupport;
import com.lumidant.tutorial.struts2.dao.*;
import com.lumidant.tutorial.struts2.model.*;

public class ExampleAction extends ActionSupport {

    private static final long SerialVersionUID = 1L;
    private String id;
    private Employee employee;

    public String execute() throw Exception {
        EmployeeDao dao = new EmployeeDao();
        employee = dao.getEmployeeById(id);
        return SUCCESS;

    public Employee getEmployee() {
        return employee;

    public void setId(String id) { = id;


There are a couple important things to note here.  The first is that our Action extends ActionSupport, which is a pattern you’ll want to continue for future actions.  Secondly, the input to our page has a setter which the framework needs to have present and the output has a getter.  Finally, our Action returns the result type SUCCESS.  The other predefined result types are ERROR, INPUT, LOGIN, and NONE.

Struts places its configuration in a struts.xml file. A good place to put it is at the root of your source folder. We’ll need to add our new action to the struts.xml file.

<!DOCTYPE struts PUBLIC "-//Apache Software Foundation//DTD Struts Configuration 2.0//EN" "">

  <!-- Configuration for the default package. -->
  <package name="default" extends="struts-default">
    <action name="ExampleAction" class="com.lumidant.tutorial.struts.action.ExampleAction">
      <result name="success">/WEB-INF/pages/displayEmployee.jsp</result>

And finally, we need to create a .jsp view for our results to be rendered in.

<%@ taglib prefix="s" uri="/struts-tags" %>

    <title>Struts 2 Tutorial Example</title>
    <h2>Selected Employee:</h2>
    <span class="fn n">
      <span class="given-name"><s:property value="employee.firstName" /></span>
      <span class="additional-name"><s:property value="employee.middleName" /></span>
      <span class="family-name"><s:property value="employee.lastName" /></span>

The important takeaway for the view is the manner in which properties can be accessed from the view.  Struts 2 uses OGNL, which for the majority of cases means you’ll just leave the get off of your method name.  For example <s:property value=”employee.firstName” /> will call your Action’s getEmployee() method and then will call the Employee’s getFirstName() method.

So now you should have an end-to-end working example.  Depending on which application server you’re using, you should be able to access your sample page at a url like http://localhost:9090/ExampleAction.action  You’ll of course need to create some sort of dummy EmployeeDao if you’re going to use this exact example, but you should be well on your way.

You’ll also want to continue reading about Struts 2 in the continuation of this tutorial:
Struts 2 Tutorial – Creating Views
Struts 2 Tutorial – Interceptors
Struts 2 Tutorial – Struts Configuration

As an optional, but nice complement, I’d also recommend SiteMesh Tutorial with Examples.

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