The Java EE 5 Tutorial

Specifying Security Roles Using Annotations

Annotations are the best way to define security roles on a class or a method. The @DeclareRoles annotation is used to define the security roles that comprise the security model of the application. This annotation is specified on a class, and it typically would be used to define roles that could be tested (for example, by calling isUserInRole) from within the methods of the annotated class.

Following is an example of how this annotation would be used. In this example, employee is the only security role specified, but the value of this parameter can include a list of security roles specified by the application.

public class CalculatorServlet {

Specifying @DeclareRoles("employee") is equivalent to defining the following in the web.xml:


This annotation is not used to link application roles to other roles. When such linking is necessary, it is accomplished by defining an appropriate security-role-ref in the associated deployment descriptor, as described in Declaring and Linking Role References.

When a call is made to isUserInRole from the annotated class, the caller identity associated with the invocation of the class is tested for membership in the role with the same name as the argument to isUserInRole. If a security-role-ref has been defined for the argument role-name, the caller is tested for membership in the role mapped to the role-name.