I recently came across a problem in a Spring Webflow based application where I needed to have one page as a standard Spring MVC page. I needed to write a PDF file to the actual http response and I’m not allowed to do that in WebFlow. So I defined a standard Spring MVC Controller and URL Mapper to complement my existing Flow Controller:

<bean id="urlMapping" class="org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.SimpleUrlHandlerMapping">
  <property name="mappings">
      <prop key="/index.htm">/index.htm</prop>
      <prop key="/pdf.htm">PDFPageController</prop>

<bean id="PDFPageController" class="controller.mvc.PDFPageController" />

<bean name="/index.htm" class="org.springframework.webflow.executor.mvc.FlowController">
<property name="flowExecutor" ref="flowExecutor" />
<property name="defaultFlowId" value="main" />

Then inside the MVC Controller (which extends AbstractController), define a method called accessFlowScope like below:

private void accessFlowScope(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response) {
  // Gain access to the Spring Web Flow context
  FlowController controller = (FlowController)getApplicationContext().getBean("/pdf.htm");
  FlowExecutionRepository repository = ((FlowExecutorImpl)controller.getFlowExecutor()).getExecutionRepository();
  FlowExecutorArgumentHandler handler = controller.getArgumentHandler();
  ExternalContext externalContext = new ServletExternalContext(getServletContext(), request, response);

  // Make sure we have a flow execution key.
  if (handler.isFlowExecutionKeyPresent(externalContext)) {
    try {
      // Get access to the variable stored in the context.
      FlowExecutionKey flowExecutionKey = repository.parseFlowExecutionKey(handler.extractFlowExecutionKey(externalContext));
      FlowExecution flowExecution = repository.getFlowExecution(flowExecutionKey);
      Object variableInFlowScopeObject = flowExecution.getActiveSession().getScope().get("variableInFlowScope");
    catch(Exception ex) {
      logger.error("Error when accessing flow scope from MVC", ex);
    finally {

  else {
    logger.error("Handler did not have flow execution key present");

This can then be called from your handleRequestInternal method of the MVC controller:

public ModelAndView handleRequestInternal(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)

All that is required now is to call from the Webflow view jsp into the MVC controller. I had to do a horrible iframe like so:

<iframe id="pdf-view" src="pdf.htm?_flowExecutionKey=${flowExecutionKey}" height="100%" width="50%">
  I'm sorry, iframes are not supported by your browser, upgrade to <a href="http://getfirefox.com">Firefox</a>

Now you can pull out whatever values you require from the many scopes (request, flash, flow, conversation) and use them in your MVC controller to do stuff. NB: All the code is used pretty much verbatim from http://www.ervacon.com/products/swf/tips/tip1.html, but it doesn’t say to add the flowExecutionKey onto the URL, which is the part I was missing and thiking that it wasn’t working correctly.