Programming Secure FTP in Java

Often server applications need to upload or download files using FTP.  But in this age of increasing security awareness vendors are now asking this be done using SFTP (Secure FTP).

Fortunately this is not difficult using the JSch (Java Secure Channel) library.  The downloadable JSch archive includes numerous examples.  I used the to implement SFTP for my server application.

Starting a connection to an SFTP server using JSch is somewhat simple.

JSch jsch = new JSch();

// start session
session = jsch.getSession(username, host);

// specify our own user info to accept secure connection to FTP server
UserInfo ui = new MyUserInfo(host);

// set password

// connect

// get SFTP channel
Channel channel = session.openChannel("sftp");
schannel = (ChannelSftp) channel;

The trick is getting past confirmation of the authenticity of the host. I do this my creating my own UserInfo implementation, MyUserInfo, which knows about the host I am connecting to. The only method I implement is the promptYesNo method which simply checks if the message is asking about the host I want to connect to.

protected MyUserInfo(final String pKnownHost) {
    this.mKnownHost = pKnownHost;

public boolean promptYesNo(final String pMessage) {
    // message looks like this "The authenticity of host '' can't be established..."
    final int start = pMessage.indexOf("'") + 1;
    final int end = pMessage.indexOf("'", start);
    final String host = pMessage.substring(start, end);

    // is the host a known host?
    return this.mKnownHost.equals(host);

Now uploading is trivial.

schannel.put(src, dest);

For further reading please see Java: What is the best way to SFTP a file from a server.

URLEncoder.encode is Deprecated So What Do I Use for Encoding?

The Surface on Flickr

(Photo: The Surface by Daniel*1977)

URLEncoder.encode(String url) is deprecated.  Java wants you to use URLEncoder.encode(String url, String enc).  But what do you put for the encoding parameter?  I always forget which is the whole point of this post. 🙂

URLEncoder.encode(url, "UTF-8");

Also on Windows if you want you can do:

URLEncoder.encode(url, "Cp1252");

For further reading please see default encoding of a jvm.

Using ResourceBundle and MessageFormat for Error Messages

When generating error messages, two Java utility classes, ResourceBundle and MessageFormat, are extremely practical and powerful.  From the ResourceBundle JavaDoc:

Resource bundles contain locale-specific objects. When your program needs a locale-specific resource, a String for example, your program can load it from the resource bundle that is appropriate for the current user’s locale. In this way, you can write program code that is largely independent of the user’s locale isolating most, if not all, of the locale-specific information in resource bundles.

This allows you to write programs that can:

  • be easily localized, or translated, into different languages
  • handle multiple locales at once
  • be easily modified later to support even more locales

And from the MessageFormat JavaDoc:

MessageFormat provides a means to produce concatenated messages in a language-neutral way. Use this to construct messages displayed for end users.

MessageFormat takes a set of objects, formats them, then inserts the formatted strings into the pattern at the appropriate places.

This is an example of an error message resource bundle,

userAlreadyExists=A user already exists with the name {0}.
passwordInvalid=Please enter a valid password.

This is an example of how you would use this resource bundle.

protected static final ResourceBundle resourceBundle =

public boolean handleLogin(DynamoHttpServletRequest pReq, DynamoHttpServletResponse pRes) {


  // user already exists
  String errMsg1 = resourceBundle.getString("userAlreadyExists");
  errMsg1 = MessageFormat.format(errMsg1, userName);


  // password invalid
  String errMsg2 = resourceBundle.getString("passwordInvalid");


Enums in Java

Slide-together : now with cards on Flickr
(Photo: Slide-together : now with cards by fdecomite)

Enums are highly useful data types introduced in Java SE 5.0.  Though I love using them I often forget the exact syntax so this post is to remind me later how to use it.

public enum Example {

// create one using its name
Example myExample = Example.valueOf(“bar”.toUpperCase());

// if statement
if (myExample == Example.FOO) System.out.println(“FOO!”);

// switch statement
switch (myExample) {
  case FOO: System.out.println(“FOO!”);
  case BAR: System.out.println(“BAR!”);

// output as String using name

For further reading please see Java’s Enums guide and Enum Types (The Java™ Tutorials > Learning the Java Language > Classes and Objects).

Unit Test for Threaded Logging

Brian Ploetz sent me this great unit test for threaded logging.  In it we are trying to find if a deadlock occurs.


import junit.framework.TestCase;

import org.apache.commons.logging.Log;
import org.apache.commons.logging.LogFactory;
import org.apache.log4j.Appender;
import org.apache.log4j.Logger;

 * Unit test for the ThrottlingFilter in a multi-threaded environment
public class ThrottlingFilterThreadUTest extends TestCase {

  private static final Log logger = LogFactory.getLog(ThrottlingFilterThreadUTest.class);

  private static ThreadMXBean threadMXBean;

  protected void setUp() throws Exception {
    threadMXBean = ManagementFactory.getThreadMXBean();"Thread contention monitoring supported: "
        + threadMXBean.isThreadContentionMonitoringSupported());"Thread contention monitoring enabled: "
        + threadMXBean.isThreadContentionMonitoringEnabled());
    threadMXBean.setThreadContentionMonitoringEnabled(true);"Thread contention monitoring enabled: "
        + threadMXBean.isThreadContentionMonitoringEnabled());

   * Tests multiple threads using the same filter instance at the same time
  public void testThreads() {
    Logger rootLogger = Logger.getRootLogger();
    Appender fileAppender = rootLogger.getAppender("FILE");
    ThrottlingFilter throttlingFilter = (ThrottlingFilter) fileAppender.getFilter();

    ThreadGroup infoThreadGroup = new ThreadGroup("info-group");
    ThreadGroup errorThreadGroup = new ThreadGroup("error-group");
    Thread errorThread1 = new ErrorThread(errorThreadGroup, "error-thread-1");
    Thread infoThread1 = new InfoThread(infoThreadGroup, "info-thread-1");
    Thread errorThread2 = new ErrorThread(errorThreadGroup, "error-thread-2");
    Thread infoThread2 = new InfoThread(infoThreadGroup, "info-thread-2");

    while (true) {
      ThreadInfo[] threadInfos = threadMXBean.getThreadInfo(threadMXBean.getAllThreadIds());
      for (int i = 0; i < threadInfos.length; i++) {
        ThreadInfo threadInfo = threadInfos[i];
        if (threadInfo != null && threadInfo.getThreadState() == Thread.State.BLOCKED) {
          System.out.println("Thread '" + threadInfo.getThreadName()
              + "' is blocked on the monitor lock '" + threadInfo.getLockName()
              + "' held by thread '" + threadInfo.getLockOwnerName() + "'");

      if (!infoThread1.isAlive() && !errorThread1.isAlive() && !infoThread2.isAlive()
          && !errorThread2.isAlive())

  public static class ErrorThread extends Thread {

    private static final Log logger = LogFactory.getLog(ErrorThread.class);

    public ErrorThread(ThreadGroup tg, String name) {
      super(tg, name);

    public void run() {
      for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
        try {
        } catch (Exception e) {
          long start = System.currentTimeMillis();
          logger.error("Error!", e);
          long end = System.currentTimeMillis();
          System.out.println("Took " + (end-start) + "ms to log error");

    // simulate large stack traces
    private void test(int i) {
      if (i >= 500)
        throw new RuntimeException("D'OH!");

  public static class InfoThread extends Thread {

    private static final Log logger = LogFactory.getLog(InfoThread.class);

    public InfoThread(ThreadGroup tg, String name) {
      super(tg, name);

    public void run() {
      for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++) {"Hi!");

The log4j.xml test file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE log4j:configuration SYSTEM "log4j.dtd">

<log4j:configuration xmlns:log4j=""

    <!-- ================================= -->
    <!--           Appenders               -->
    <!-- ================================= -->

    <!-- A time/date based rolling file appender -->
    <appender name="FILE"
        <param name="File" value="server.log" />
        <param name="Append" value="true" />

        <!-- Rollover at midnight each day -->
        <param name="DatePattern" value="'.'yyyy-MM-dd" />

        <layout class="org.apache.log4j.PatternLayout">
            <!-- The default pattern: Date Priority [Category] Message\n -->
            <param name="ConversionPattern" value="%d %-5p [%c] %m%n" />

        <filter class="com.betweengo.log4j.ThrottlingFilter">
          <param name="maxCountSameMessage" value="100"/>
          <param name="maxCountSavedMessages" value="100"/>
          <param name="waitInterval" value="60"/>

    <!-- ======================= -->
    <!-- Setup the Root category -->
    <!-- ======================= -->

        <level value="INFO" />
        <appender-ref ref="FILE" />


Encode URI

To encode an URI you can simply use Java’s URLEncoder’s encode method which has been available since JDK 1.4.

String encodedUri;
  try {
    encodedUri = URLEncoder.encode(uri, "UTF-8");
  catch (UnsupportedEncodingException exc) {
    // this should never happen
    logger.warn("UTF-8 is not a supported encoding?  Not encoding for now...", exc);
    encodedUri = uri;


I always forget how to sleep or wait in Java though it’s quite easy, just use the static method Thread.sleep.

For example:

    // sleep the filter's wait interval
    try {
      Thread.sleep(filter.getWaitInterval() * 1000);
    catch (InterruptedException exc) {
      logger.error("unexpected interrupt", exc);

Sun has a tutorial calling Pausing Execution with Sleep.

Do Not Return From a Try Block

Practical Java(TM) Programming Language Guide (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series)In Peter Hagar’s book, Practical Java, he recommends that you do not return from a try block.  This is because the finally block may change the return value.

Traditionally, programmers think that when they execute a return statement they immediately leave the method they are executing.  In Java, this is no longer true with the usage of finally

To avoid this pitfall, be sure you do not issue a return, break or continue statement inside of a try block. If you cannot avoid this, be sure the existence of a finally does not change the return value of the method. This particular problem can arise during maintenance of your code, even with careful design and implementation. Good comments and careful code reviews ward it off.

Practical Java Programming Language … – Google Book Search

URL.equals and hashCode make blocking Internet connections

Who knew that something as innocent as and hashCode would make blocking Internet connections?

The javadoc of URL.equals says: “Since hosts comparison requires name resolution, this operation is a blocking operation.”, but who reads the documentation of equals?  There is a general contract around equals.  Joshua Bloch writes in Effective Java: “Don’t write an equals that relies on unreliable resources” (Chapter 3, page 34). Hey Sun, as far as I know, the Internet is not reliable 😉

Eclipse and Java Blog by Michael Scharf: and hashCode make (blocking) Internet connections….

ServletException root cause

Java’s Throwable class defines the getCause() method for accessing the cause of the exception.  This method returns a Throwable object which itself could have a cause.  By traversing down this chain you can find the root cause of an exception.

However for some unknown reason in ServletException the getRootCause() method was added.  Therefore when trying to determine the root cause of an exception in a J2EE environment one has to check what type of exception you have.  I do this in the following code.

   * Logs all the nested exceptions for the specified exception.
   * @param ex the exception
  protected void logNestedExceptions(Throwable ex) {
    int count = 1;
    Throwable cause = getCause(ex);
    while (cause != null) {
      logger.error("Nested Exception " + count, cause);
      cause = getCause(cause);

   * Gets the cause of the exception.
   * @param ex the exception
   * @return the cause
  protected Throwable getCause(Throwable ex) {
    Throwable cause;
    if (ex instanceof ServletException) {
      ServletException sex = (ServletException) ex;
      cause = sex.getRootCause();
    else {
      cause = ex.getCause();
    return cause;

Finally you need to configure web.xml to use your SiteMap servlet.