Jetty 6 Architecture
View from 20,000 feet
The Jetty Server is the plumbing between a collection of Connectors that accept HTTP connections, and a collection of Handlers that service requests from the connections and produce responses, with the work being done by threads taken from a thread pool.
While the jetty request/responses are derived from the Servlet API, the full features of the servlet API are only available if the appropriate handlers are configured. For example, the session API on the request is inactive unless the request has been passed to a Session Handler. The concept of a Servlet itself is represented by a Servlet Handler.
Thus a Jetty server may be built using simply connectors and handlers, but without using Servlets.
Contexts are handlers that group other handlers below a particular URI context path or a virtual host. Contexts may use the base ContextHandler, the servlet Context or a Web Application Context. A web application context combines handlers for security, session and servlets in a single unit that can be configured with a web.xml descriptor.
The implementation of Jetty follows some fairly standard patterns. Most abstract concepts such as Connector, Handler and Buffer are captured by interfaces. Generic handling for those interfaces is then provided in an Abstract implementation such as AbstractConnector, AbstractHandler and AbstractBuffer.
Jetty provides is own IO Buffering abstract over String, byte arrays and NIO buffers. This allows for greater portability of Jetty as well as hiding some of the complexity of the NIO layer and it's advanced features.