Access Java / Servlet / JSP / JSTL / EL variables in JavaScript

You need to realize that Java/JSP is merely a HTML/CSS/JS code producer. So all you need to do is to just let JSP print the Java variable as if it is a JavaScript variable and that the generated HTML/JS code output is syntactically valid.

Provided that the Java variable is available in the EL scope by ${foo}, here are several examples how to print it:

<script>var foo = '${foo}';</script>
<div onclick="someFunction('${foo}')">...</div>

Imagine that the Java variable has the value "bar", then JSP will ultimately generate this HTML which you can verify by rightclick, View Source in the webbrowser:

<script>var foo = 'bar';</script>
<div onclick="someFunction('bar')">...</div>

Do note that those singlequotes are thus mandatory in order to represent a string typed variable in JS. If you have used var foo = ${foo}; instead, then it would print var foo = bar;, which may end up in “bar is undefined” errors in when you attempt to access it further down in JS code (you can see JS errors in JS console of browser’s web developer toolset which you can open by pressing F12 in Chrome/FireFox23+/IE9+). Also note that if the variable represents a number or a boolean, which doesn’t need to be quoted, then it will just work fine.

If the variable happens to originate from user-controlled input, then keep in mind to take into account XSS attack holes and JS escaping. Near the bottom of our EL wiki page you can find an example how to create a custom EL function which escapes a Java variable for safe usage in JS.

If the variable is a bit more complex, e.g. a Java bean, or a list thereof, or a map, then you can use one of the many available JSON libraries to convert the Java object to a JSON string. Here’s an example assuming Gson.

String someObjectAsJson = new Gson().toJson(someObject);

Note that this way you don’t need to print it as a quoted string anymore.

<script>var foo = ${someObjectAsJson};</script>

See also:

  • Our JSP wiki page – see the chapter “JavaScript”.
  • How to escape JavaScript in JSP?
  • Call Servlet and invoke Java code from JavaScript along with parameters
  • How to use Servlets and Ajax?

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