Spring Session - HttpSession (Quick Start)

This guide describes how to use Spring Session to transparently leverage a relational to back a web application’s HttpSession with XML based configuration.

You can find the completed guide in the httpsession-jdbc-xml sample application.

Updating Dependencies

Before you use Spring Session, you must update your dependencies. If you are using Maven, you must add the following dependencies:

	<!-- ... -->


Since we are using a Milestone version, we need to add the Spring Milestone Maven Repository. You must have the following in your pom.xml:


Spring XML Configuration

After adding the required dependencies, we can create our Spring configuration. The Spring configuration is responsible for creating a servlet filter that replaces the HttpSession implementation with an implementation backed by Spring Session. The following listing shows how to add the following Spring Configuration:

<bean class="org.springframework.session.jdbc.config.annotation.web.http.JdbcHttpSessionConfiguration"/>

<jdbc:embedded-database id="dataSource" database-name="testdb" type="H2">
	<jdbc:script location="classpath:org/springframework/session/jdbc/schema-h2.sql"/>

<bean class="org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DataSourceTransactionManager">
	<constructor-arg ref="dataSource"/>
1 We use the combination of <context:annotation-config/> and JdbcHttpSessionConfiguration because Spring Session does not yet provide XML Namespace support (see gh-104). This creates a Spring bean with the name of springSessionRepositoryFilter. That bean implements Filter. The filter is in charge of replacing the HttpSession implementation to be backed by Spring Session. In this instance, Spring Session is backed by a relational database.
2 We create a dataSource that connects Spring Session to an embedded instance of an H2 database. We configure the H2 database to create database tables by using the SQL script that is included in Spring Session.
3 We create a transactionManager that manages transactions for previously configured dataSource.

For additional information on how to configure data access-related concerns, see the Spring Framework Reference Documentation.

XML Servlet Container Initialization

Our Spring Configuration created a Spring bean named springSessionRepositoryFilter that implements Filter. The springSessionRepositoryFilter bean is responsible for replacing the HttpSession with a custom implementation that is backed by Spring Session.

In order for our Filter to do its magic, we need to instruct Spring to load our session.xml configuration. We do so with the following configuration:


The ContextLoaderListener reads the contextConfigLocation and picks up our session.xml configuration.

Last, we need to ensure that our Servlet Container (that is, Tomcat) uses our springSessionRepositoryFilter for every request. The following snippet performs this last step for us:


The DelegatingFilterProxy looks up a bean named springSessionRepositoryFilter and casts it to a Filter. For every request on which DelegatingFilterProxy is invoked, the springSessionRepositoryFilter is invoked.

httpsession-jdbc-xml Sample Application

This section describes how to work with the httpsession-jdbc-xml Sample Application.

Running the httpsession-jdbc-xml Sample Application

You can run the sample by obtaining the source code and invoking the following command:

$ ./gradlew :spring-session-sample-xml-jdbc:tomcatRun

You should now be able to access the application at http://localhost:8080/

Exploring the httpsession-jdbc-xml Sample Application

Now you can try using the application. To do so, fill out the form with the following information:

  • Attribute Name: username

  • Attribute Value: rob

Now click the Set Attribute button. You should now see the values displayed in the table.

How Does It Work?

We interact with the standard HttpSession in the following SessionServlet:

public class SessionServlet extends HttpServlet {

	protected void doPost(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) throws IOException {
		String attributeName = req.getParameter("attributeName");
		String attributeValue = req.getParameter("attributeValue");
		req.getSession().setAttribute(attributeName, attributeValue);
		resp.sendRedirect(req.getContextPath() + "/");

	private static final long serialVersionUID = 2878267318695777395L;


Instead of using Tomcat’s HttpSession, we persist the values in the H2 database. Spring Session creates a cookie named SESSION in your browser. That cookie contains the ID of your session. You can view the cookies (with Chrome or Firefox).

You can remove the session by using H2 web console available at: http://localhost:8080/h2-console/ (use jdbc:h2:mem:testdb for JDBC URL)

Now you can visit the application at http://localhost:8080/ and observe that the attribute we added is no longer displayed.