Handling links on the Server Side

If we create a web application and then deploy it to context “/webapp” all resources will be relative to this context, for example:


How do we handle this on the sever side ? If we have main.jsp and we want to link to styles.css

<a href="???/css/styles.css">click here</a>

If we hardcode href="webapp/css/styles.css" then all links will break if we ever deploy to a different context path.

One solution is to dynamically retrieve the context using:


this would return “/webapp“.

We would then have to append this to every link:


We can improve this by using the JSTL core tags:

<c:set var="root" value="${pageContext.request.contextPath}" />

So now our links are shortened to :



Another approach is to use the HTML <base> tag.

<base href="${pageContext.request.contextPath}/">

all relative links (those not starting with “/”, now become relative to the context path.

<a href="css/styles.css">click here</a>

Note: When using tag it should be closed (<base .../>) to prevent issues with IE6.


Another approach is to use the JSTL url tag or the Spring url tag.

<a href="<c:url value="/css/styles.css"/>" >click here</a>
<a href="<spring:url value="/css/styles.css"/>" >click here</a>
Posted in HTML, Java, Web

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