The Java EE 5 Tutorial

Implicit Objects

The JSP expression language defines a set of implicit objects:

JSP 2.1 provides two EL resolvers to handle expressions that reference these objects: ImplicitObjectELResolver and ScopedAttributeELResolver.

A variable that matches one of the implicit objects is evaluated by ImplicitObjectResolver, which returns the implicit object. This resolver only handles expressions with a base of null. What this means for the following expression is that the ImplicitObjectResolver resolves the sessionScope implicit object only. Once the implicit object is found, the MapELResolver instance resolves the profile attribute because the profile object represents a map.


ScopedAttributeELResolver evaluates a single object that is stored in scope. Like ImplicitObjectELResolver, it also only evaluates expressions with a base of null. This resolver essentially looks for an object in all of the scopes until it finds it, according to the behavior of PageContext.findAttribute(String). For example, when evaluating the expression ${product}, the resolver will look for product in the page, request, session, and application scopes and will return its value. If product is not found, null is returned.

When an expression references one of the implicit objects by name, the appropriate object is returned instead of the corresponding attribute. For example, ${pageContext} returns the PageContext object, even if there is an existing pageContext attribute containing some other value.