JSF 2, Maven, and Tomcat 7


As I worked my way through the Java EE 6 tutorial I needed to learn how to use JSF 2 with Tomcat 7 and Maven. The examples that come with the Java EE 6 tutorial provided by Oracle are NetBeans projects and use the GlassFish 3 server (which has built in support for JSF 2). Since my development environment is Maven and Tomcat, I wanted to translate the JSF 2 examples in the Java EE 6 tutorial to my environment. This work went pretty smoothly except for one big GOTHCA caused by a little advertised bug in the latest version of Oracle's reference implementation of JSF 2.

Example Application

I used the Guess Number project from the Developing a Simple Facelets Application section of the tutorial to create a similar Maven project that can be run with Tomcat 7. The Guess Number example code is copyrighted by Oracle with a license that allows redistribution (see http://developer.sun.com/berkeley_license.html). You can download a zipped archive of the Maven project here (created using Eclipse 3.6).

After downloading the example application, you can import it into Eclipse. If you don't use Eclipse, you can unzip the download and import the Maven project into any Maven aware Java IDE.

To build the application open a terminal (command) window and navigate to the project's root folder. Then at the command line run mvn -e clean package. To run the application copy the guessnumber.war file from the target folder to Tomcat 7's webapps folder. Startup Tomcat and then navigate to http://localhost:8080/guessnumber to view the application. If there are problems with the application read the console.out and localhost log files in Tomcat's logs folder.

Tomcat 7 and Maven

Tomcat 7 does not provide out-of-the-box support for JSF 2. So in the example application's pom.xml are these nodes:

<name>Java.net Repository for Maven</name>

The above nodes in the pom.xml tell Maven to use the java.net Maven 2 repository. There are two JSF 2 artifacts needed for a basic JSF application and these are available in the java.net repository. You can visit the web site for Oracle's reference implementation for JSF 2 for more information.

I initially used the latest version number for the JSF 2 artifacts, but the Guess Number application would error when being deployed by Tomcat 7. It took me quite a bit of research and time to figure out the problem. It appears that there is a bug in the latest version (as of March 2011) of Oracle's JSF 2 reference implementation that prevents Tomcat 7 from successfully deploying a JSF application. See this Jira bug report for more information.

To solve the JSF 2.1 - Tomcat 7 problem I just needed to change the version number for the JSF artifacts to the version before JSF 2.1. After that change, Tomcat deployed the Guess Number application just fine.


If you want to use the JSF examples from the Java EE 6 tutorial that Oracle has published online, but prefer to use Tomcat and Maven then this article and the example application may be helpful.


  1. The Java EE 6 Tutorial, http://download.oracle.com/javaee/6/tutorial/doc/bnaph.html
  2. Oracle Mojarra JavaServer Faces, http://javaserverfaces.java.net/
  3. Apache Tomcat, http://tomcat.apache.org/

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Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Dear Bruce, I also am trying to use Tomcat 7.0.11, Maven 3.0.5 , your JSF 2.03b api / impl recommendation for a whose week now, but with no success at all. Should I give up using Tomcat? I like Tomcat but with JSF it is really bad, isn't it? Could you please send me your working source code via email or give me a recommendation, exactly which dependencies (JSP 2.what, Maven 2.what or 3.what, ... ) will work with Tomcat 7.0.11? Thanks in advance, Micha.
# Posted By Micha | 5/3/11 5:13 PM
Micha: The article contains a link to the source code, which includes the pom.xml. You may also want to look at the book Core JavaServer Faces, by Cay Horstmann and David Geary (http://horstmann.com/corejsf/).
# Posted By Bruce | 5/3/11 7:05 PM
Dear Bruce,

many thanks for your superfast answer. Sorry for having overlooked your link to your guessnumber.zip ...

Today I fetched your Eclipse 3.6 sample project guessnumber.zip and made my E. Helios import it. Using exactly your configuration PLUS adding "http:localhost:8080/manager/html" plugin into your pom.xml your example worked immediately! - Thank you very much, for your help! -

But one annoyance may persist with Tomcat 7.0.11 ; Once your deploy your Maven project with mvn tomcat:deploy it may or may not work to redeploy via mvn tomcat:redeploy. Even using rm -rf guessnumber* within tomcat/webapps won't work in any case. Worst case occurring way to often: only restarting my winserv tomcat service as admin allows is to redeploy the Maven 2 - JSF 2 project.

Many on the web recommend to switch to Glassfish 3 at that point; Tomcat 7.0.11 isn't even a semi-professional solution for deploying a Maven 2 - JSF 2 project.

Now my question comes in: would you advice to switch to Glassfish 3 or do you know any trick to overcome the just described Tomcat 7 - Maven 2 - JSF 2 - (re)deployment issue?

Thank you again in advance, Yours, Micha.
# Posted By Micha | 5/4/11 7:29 AM
Micha - We usually restart Tomcat when we deploy a new version of a web application. Since we have multipe Tomcat instances running behind a load balancer we can do rolling restarts - thus the site is not completely down.
I've used GlassFish on other personal projects and think it's very good. If you have the option of using GlassFish Version 3 then I think that would be better as it supports JSF 2, CDI, and all the other JEE 6 features out of the box.
Where I work I don't have the luxury of switching to GlassFish for various reasons.
# Posted By Bruce | 5/4/11 7:54 AM
Just wanted to say thanks for this article - I was just starting to feel like I was in for long stretch trying to get this working when I came across it!
# Posted By matt | 1/12/12 11:23 AM
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