How do servlets differ from RMI? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each technology?

Shaun Childers

Servlets extend the server-side functionality of a website. Servlets communicate with other application(s) on that server (or any other server) and perform tasks above and beyond the "normal" static HTML document. A servlet can receive a request to get some information through EJB from one or more databases, then convert this data into a static HTML/WML page for the client to see, for example. Even if the servlet talks to many other applications all over the world to get this information, it still looks like it happened at that website.

RMI (Remote Method Invocation) is just that - a way to invoke methods on remote machines. It is way for an application to talk to another remote machine and execute different methods, all the while appearing as if the action was being performed on the local machine.

Servlets (or JSP) are mainly used for any web-related activity such as online banking, online grocery stores, stock trading, etc. With servlets, you need only to know the web address and the pages displayed to you take care of calling the different servlets (or actions within a servlet) for you. Using RMI, you must bind the RMI server to an IP and port, and the client who wishes to talk to the remote server must know this IP and port, unless of course you used some kind of in-between lookup utility, which you could do with (of all things) servlets.

For more detailed information regarding servlets and RMI refer to following sun sites: http://www.java.sun.com/products/servlet/index.html and http://developer.java.sun.com/developer/onlineTraining/rmi/ [(the last link is a tutorial by JGuru!)].