Do you build web applications with JSF and GlassFish? And do you need to process inputs with characters which are coded with multi-bytes using UTF-8, e.g. German Umlauts? You might have recognized a strange behavior if you use GlassFish 4.

Now, let’s check for the problem by building a simple application. With NetBeans, simply choose New Project, Java Web, Web Application. Add JSF as framework. If you need detailed information how to create a web application with NetBeans, please take a look into my JSF tutorial.

This is the web page:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8' ?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" 
<html xmlns=""
               <title>Test German Umlaut</title>
               <h:inputText value="#{test.text}"/>
               <h:commandButton action="#{test.noop}" value="Test"/>

And here the backing bean:

package web;

import javax.enterprise.context.RequestScoped;
import javax.inject.Named;

public class Test {
       private String _text;

       public String getText() {
               return _text;

       public void setText(String text) {
               _text = text;

       public String noop(){
               return "";


Not very much. Just an input field and a button to invoke an action, which displays the same page again. Now, start the app. Enter some multibyte chars, e.g. “äöü” and press the button. Using GlassFish 3 nothing seems to happen: Since the action returns an empty string, the same page with its data is re-displayed. This behaviour changes, if you use GlassFish 4: Every character (of multibyte chars) is replaced by two or more characters. Even though in the head of the page UTF-8 is declared, GlassFish treats the input as single-byte codes. The reason is GlassFish’s default encoding of iso-8859-1.


Create a sun-web.xml or glassfish-xml file. Using Netbeans you may choose New, Other, GlassFish, GlassFish Descriptor. Add this line to change the default encoding:

<parameter-encoding default-charset="UTF-8"/>

That’s it.