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Debugging JSP pages on GoDaddy

I was recently hired to look into some problems with a fairly simple web-based software licensing application hosted on GoDaddy. The server application consists of a number of servlets in some JAR files, and some .jsp pages invoking those servlets.

One of the problems was that email messages originated by the server application weren’t being delivered. There were two issues affecting email delivery. Firstly, the SMTP server had been hard-coded as ‘localhost’; this was easily changed to GoDaddy’s mail server. After this change was made, the second problem appeared: the qmail server was complaining about raw linefeed characters (LF vs CRLF). The app uses an email servlet from (now apparently defunct), which uses PrintWriter.println to issue each SMTP command. The email messages constructed by the app used \n newline characters. Neither of these approaches is correct: PrintWriter.println emits the system-specific newline, and no Java IO function will ever do C-style translation of \n into \r\n. A succinct little summary of newlines in programming languages can be had from Wikipedia.

The fix is to change every out.println(stuff) in to out.print(stuff + "\r\n"), and similarly to construct email messages using \r\n instead of \n. If you need to make a similar fix, the source for the email servlet is, at the time of writing, available here.

So far, so straightforward. The only issue here is that GoDaddy’s Tomcat server only restarts once a day (1am Arizona time). And because of servlet caching, updates to a jar (or standalone servlet) only come into effect when the server is bounced. So if you’re trying to debug a server application that depends intimately on the host’s (GoDaddy’s) email server & MySQL databases, the naive MO is basically patch, compile, upload, wait til 1am AZ time, repeat until done. Nightmare. Other people have encountered similar GoDaddy Gotchas.

However, while an update to an existing servlet has to wait for the bounce, a new servlet (standalone or in a .jar, but not in a WAR) is available immediately on upload. So for a faster turnaround time, you can rename the class each time you upload it, and invoke it straight away. Of course, this gets cumbersome pretty quickly, as every reference to the updated class in every .java and .jsp file has to be updated as well.

So the fix is: automation by shell script. For the application I was working on, I had two servlet source trees: /WEB-INF/lib/com.consultant/ (consultant were the crowd that originally developed the application), and /WEB-INF/lib/com.coolservlets/. I also had a bunch of .jsp files in /jsp/. I figured the simplest thing was to update the package names, specifically changing com. to comTestNNN. Don’t use comN, as com1 and com2 are serial ports under Cygwin.

The shell script ( appears below. As it stands, you invoke it as com comTest1 after the first fix. If the problem’s not sorted, make another change and go comTest1 comTest2. And so on, with a new basename for the updated packages every time. You can test the updated application immediately it’s uploaded.

The main flaw in the system is that you have to close all the source files in your editor before each build—even if the build fails—as the root directory name changes each time the script is invoked, so the file paths are invalidated. I suspect that this can easily be worked around using directory links, however, where the directory link is renamed each time while the code sits inside the ‘real’ directory. Also, it would be smarter to have the script generate the new name automatically, rather than have the user specify the old and new names.

The four stages are:

  • Rename the package root directory from $OLDNAME to $NEWNAME
  • Replace every occurence of $OLDNAME to $NEWNAME in all .java and .jsp files, if referring to one of the packages we’re updating
  • Package up the files in a .jar
  • Upload everything to the server

The script uses the Java tools (same version as GoDaddy, rather than the most recent), perl, and ncftp. It’s developed under cygwin, but should work on any bash-alike.


set -o nounset
set -o errexit
set -o verbose

JAVAC=/cygdrive/c/Program Files/Java/jdk1.5.0_11/bin/javac.exe
JAR=/cygdrive/c/Program Files/Java/jdk1.5.0_11/bin/jar.exe

[ $# -lt 2 ] && echo "Need OLDNAME / NEWNAME arguments!" && exit -1


BASEDIR="e:/code/" #can't use /cygdrive/e for win32 java tools




perl -pi -w -e "s#${OLDNAME}.consultant#${NEWNAME}.consultant#g" `find $JAVADIR -name *.java`
perl -pi -w -e "s#${OLDNAME}.consultant#${NEWNAME}.consultant#g" `find $JSPDIR -name *.jsp`

perl -pi -w -e "s#${OLDNAME}.coolservlets#${NEWNAME}.coolservlets#g" `find $JAVADIR -name *.java`
perl -pi -w -e "s#${OLDNAME}.coolservlets#${NEWNAME}.coolservlets#g" `find $JSPDIR -name *.jsp`

"$JAVAC" -cp .;servlet.jar `find $JAVADIR -name *.java`
#Can't use $JAVADIR here; puts full path in the jar
"$JAR" -cf stuff.jar `find $NEWNAME -name *java -o -name *class` #-uvf: add files; verbose, see files as added

ncftpput -u $FTPUSER -p $FTPPASS WEB-INF/lib stuff.jar
ncftpput -u $FTPUSER -p $FTPPASS jsp `find $JSPDIR -name *.jsp`

For more on debugging servlets, check here.


  1. Nokao said,

    October 11, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

    Thank you for the article, I was just wandering on how the hell I was supposed to debug a java application in godaddy servers.

    My only doubts are about compatibilities… you know… I just want to avoid to work hard on developing a web application, upload it on godaddy, and discover that it don’t works.

    It would be easyer if godaddy says what versions of tomcat, java, and so on, they are using.

    Tomorrow I will try a huge jsp application on it just to see it works, and after that I think I’m going to develop my jsp stuff inside my own server (and try it once a day in godaddy).

    Thank you again.
    (if you have other tips on what to do to avoid that problem, just write me).

  2. Jacob Luo said,

    November 8, 2007 @ 11:13 am

    Thank you very much! This helps.

  3. OP Verma said,

    May 26, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

    Try using following in your servlet:
    res.setHeader(“Cache-Control”, “no-cache”);

  4. factorypattern said,

    August 10, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

    res.setHeader(”Cache-Control”, “no-cache”);

    does not help. It just disable the browser cache, not related with the server at all.

  5. Earl T said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 3:58 am

    Try this link for remote or local debug of JSP pages.

    Im not familar with go daddy but this is a very good article on remote debug using eclipse.


  6. My First Servlet … | Kolban's Blog said,

    February 1, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    […] Debugging JSP pages on GoDaddy This entry was posted in GoDaddy. Bookmark the permalink. ← The first post […]

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