Interface Tag

All Superinterfaces:
All Known Subinterfaces:
BodyTag, IterationTag
All Known Implementing Classes:
BodyTagSupport, TagAdapter, TagSupport

public interface Tag extends JspTag
The interface of a classic tag handler that does not want to manipulate its body. The Tag interface defines the basic protocol between a Tag handler and JSP page implementation class. It defines the life cycle and the methods to be invoked at start and end tag.


The Tag interface specifies the setter and getter methods for the core pageContext and parent properties.

The JSP page implementation object invokes setPageContext and setParent, in that order, before invoking doStartTag() or doEndTag().


There are two main actions: doStartTag and doEndTag. Once all appropriate properties have been initialized, the doStartTag and doEndTag methods can be invoked on the tag handler. Between these invocations, the tag handler is assumed to hold a state that must be preserved. After the doEndTag invocation, the tag handler is available for further invocations (and it is expected to have retained its properties).


Lifecycle details are described by the transition diagram below, with the following comments:

  • [1] This transition is intended to be for releasing long-term data. no guarantees are assumed on whether any properties have been retained or not.
  • [2] This transition happens if and only if the tag ends normally without raising an exception
  • [3] Some setters may be called again before a tag handler is reused. For instance, setParent() is called if it's reused within the same page but at a different level, setPageContext() is called if it's used in another page, and attribute setters are called if the values differ or are expressed as request-time attribute values.
  • Check the TryCatchFinally interface for additional details related to exception handling and resource management.
Lifecycle Details Transition Diagram for Tag

Once all invocations on the tag handler are completed, the release method is invoked on it. Once a release method is invoked all properties, including parent and pageContext, are assumed to have been reset to an unspecified value. The page compiler guarantees that release() will be invoked on the Tag handler before the handler is released to the GC.

Empty and Non-Empty Action

If the TagLibraryDescriptor file indicates that the action must always have an empty action, by an <body-content> entry of "empty", then the doStartTag() method must return SKIP_BODY.

Otherwise, the doStartTag() method may return SKIP_BODY or EVAL_BODY_INCLUDE.

If SKIP_BODY is returned the body, if present, is not evaluated.

If EVAL_BODY_INCLUDE is returned, the body is evaluated and "passed through" to the current out.