Servlet Filters

Servlet filters can both pre-process requests as they arrive and post-process responses before they go to the client browser. They let you apply functionality to requests and responses for multiple servlets, without the servlets knowing. Here are some common filter use cases:

  • Logging
  • Auditing
  • Transaction management
  • Security

You can use patterns in descriptors to map the filters to servlet URLs. When requests arrive at these URLs, your filters process them. Filter chaining lets you apply filters in an order you want. Servlet Filter Hook plugins let you deploy and undeploy filters without modifying the Liferay web application. Here are the steps for creating and deploying a servlet filter:

  1. Create a Servlet Filter class

  2. Map URLs to your Servlet Filter

  3. Create a Liferay plugin descriptor

  4. Deploy your plugin

For reference, you can download the example servlet filter project code.

In a traditional web application (.war) project, start with creating your servlet filter class.

Step 1: Create a Servlet Filter class

Create a class that implements javax.servlet.Filter. Here’s an example servlet filter class:

package com.liferay.sampleservletfilter.hook.filter;

import com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.WebKeys;


import javax.servlet.Filter;
import javax.servlet.FilterChain;
import javax.servlet.FilterConfig;
import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.ServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.ServletResponse;

public class SampleFilter implements Filter {

	public void destroy() {
		System.out.println("Called SampleFilter.destroy()");

	public void doFilter(
			ServletRequest servletRequest, ServletResponse servletResponse,
			FilterChain filterChain)
		throws IOException, ServletException {

		String uri = (String)servletRequest.getAttribute(

			"Called SampleFilter.doFilter(" + servletRequest + ", " +
				servletResponse + ", " + filterChain + ") for URI " + uri);

		filterChain.doFilter(servletRequest, servletResponse);

	public void init(FilterConfig filterConfig) {
			"Called SampleFilter.init(" + filterConfig + ") where hello=" +


Here are the Filter methods to implement:

  1. init(FilterConfig): Configure the filter and perform any necessary initializations.

    When SampleFilter is initialized, for example, its init(FilterConfig) method prints the FilterConfig object and the hello parameter’s value:

    Called SampleFilter.init(com.liferay.portal.kernel.servlet.filters.invoker.InvokerFilterConfig@7c953747) where hello=world
  2. doFilter(ServletRequest, ServletResponse, FilterChain): Filter on requests and responses here. To apply your filter, invoke filterChain.doFilter(servletRequest, servletResponse).

    When users visit URLs mapped for SampleFilter, for example, its doFilter(...) method prints the ServletResponse object, FilterChain object, and the ServletRequest URI before passing control to the next filter by invoking filterChain.doFilter(servletRequest, servletResponse).

    Called SampleFilter.doFilter(org.apache.catalina.connector.RequestFacade@68be71e0, com.liferay.portal.servlet.filters.absoluteredirects.AbsoluteRedirectsResponse@2b598f1a, com.liferay.portal.kernel.servlet.filters.invoker.InvokerFilterChain@72220503) for URI /web/guest
  3. destroy(): Clean up the filter’s unneeded resources.

    When SampleFilter is destroyed, its destroy() method prints the message: Called SampleFilter.destroy().

It’s time to map URLs to your servlet filter.

Step 2: Map URLs to your Servlet Filter

Traditionally, specifying a servlet filter and its filter mapping requires modifying your web application’s web.xml file. Liferay DXP, however, lets you specify them in your plugin, so you don’t need to modify the Liferay DXP web application. Specify your servlet filter mapping in a descriptor file WEB-INF/liferay-hook.xml, like this one for Sample Filter:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE hook PUBLIC "-//Liferay//DTD Hook 7.1.0//EN" "">

        <servlet-filter-name>Sample Filter</servlet-filter-name>
        <servlet-filter-name>Sample Filter</servlet-filter-name>
        <before-filter>SSO Open SSO Filter</before-filter>

Here’s how to map URLs to your servlet filter:

  1. Create a descriptor file WEB-INF/liferay-hook.xml, based on the Liferay Hook DTD.

  2. Add a servlet-filter element as a sub element of hook. Specify your servlet-filter sub-elements.

    servlet-filter-name: Arbitrary name. (required)

    servlet-filter-impl: Filter implementation class. (required)

    init-param elements: Initialization parameters. (optional)

  3. Add a servlet-filter-mapping element as a sub element of hook.

    servlet-filter-name: Match the one used in the servlet-filter. (required)

    after-filter: Name of a servlet-filter for this filter to go after. (optional)

    before-filter: Name of a servlet-filter for this filter to go before. (optional)

    url-pattern elements: URL patterns you want to filter requests and responses for. (required)

    dispatcher elements: Specify Dispatcher enumerated constants to constrain how the filter is applied to requests. (optional)

Step 3: Create a Liferay plugin descriptor

In a WEB-INF/ file, specify the versions of Liferay DXP your plugin supports:


Step 4: Deploy your plugin

Specify compile-time dependencies on these artifacts:

  • com.liferay.portal.kernel
  • javax.servlet-api


compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.portal.kernel", version: "3.0.0"
compileOnly group: "javax.servlet", name: "javax.servlet-api", version: "3.0.1"



Build your plugin .war file and deploy it by copying it to the [LIFERAY_HOME]/deploy folder. Liferay’s auto-deployer copies the .war to the [LIFERAY_HOME]/osgi/war folder. The WAB Generator converts the .war to an OSGi Web Application Bundle (WAB) and installs it to Liferay DXP’s runtime. The output in your console should look like this:

2018-11-03 16:20:09.118 INFO  [fileinstall-C:/workspace_liferay/bundles/osgi/war][BaseAutoDeployListener:43] Copying hook plugin for C:\workspace_liferay\bundles\tomcat-9.0.6\temp\20181103162009108XCJZAKUY\sample-servlet-filter-hook.war
2018-11-03 16:20:09.390 INFO  [fileinstall-C:/workspace_liferay/bundles/osgi/war][BaseDeployer:880] Deploying sample-servlet-filter-hook.war
2018-11-03 16:20:10.019 INFO  [fileinstall-C:/workspace_liferay/bundles/osgi/war][BaseAutoDeployListener:50] Hook for C:\workspace_liferay\bundles\tomcat-9.0.6\temp\20181103162009108XCJZAKUY\sample-servlet-filter-hook.war copied successfully
2018-11-03 16:20:10.730 INFO  [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28][BundleStartStopLogger:35] STARTED sample-servlet-filter-hook_7.1.10.1 [963]
2018-11-03 16:20:11.050 INFO  [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28][HotDeployImpl:226] Deploying sample-servlet-filter-hook from queue
2018-11-03 16:20:11.052 INFO  [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28][PluginPackageUtil:1001] Reading plugin package for sample-servlet-filter-hook
03-Nov-2018 16:20:11.066 INFO [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28] org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext.log Initializing Spring root WebApplicationContext
2018-11-03 16:20:11.093 INFO  [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28][HookHotDeployListener:457] Registering hook for sample-servlet-filter-hook
Called SampleFilter.init(com.liferay.portal.kernel.servlet.filters.invoker.InvokerFilterConfig@7c953747) where hello=world
2018-11-03 16:20:11.134 INFO  [Refresh Thread: Equinox Container: 4023060a-c8de-0018-1c3a-ebee784b7a28][HookHotDeployListener:533] Hook for sample-servlet-filter-hook is available for use

The servlet container calls your filter’s init method. Deploying SampleFilter, for example, invokes its init method, which prints this output:

Called SampleFilter.init(com.liferay.portal.kernel.servlet.filters.invoker.InvokerFilterConfig@7c953747) where hello=world

Visiting the URLs mapped to your servlet filter invokes your filter’s doFilter method. Since the sample’s servlet filter mapping includes the URL /web/*, visiting http://localhost:8080/web/guest invokes SampleFilter.doFilter, which prints this:

Called SampleFilter.doFilter(org.apache.catalina.connector.RequestFacade@68be71e0, com.liferay.portal.servlet.filters.absoluteredirects.AbsoluteRedirectsResponse@2b598f1a, com.liferay.portal.kernel.servlet.filters.invoker.InvokerFilterChain@72220503) for URI /web/guest

Undeploying your servlet filter .war invokes its destroy() method.

Congratulations on filtering requests to your site’s URLs.

Configuring Dependencies

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