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How to login to a server that uses form based authentication

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Hi there,
I've developed an app that posts XML over HTTP to my server. So far so good.... Now in REAL world the server requires a login (its a Tomcat5) and is configured for form based authentication. In theory I need to post the username/password in the j_ fields and get a cookie with a session in return. In practise: waht exactly do I need to do to create the login post and how to get the resulting session into my xml-post? Help greatly appreciated!
:-) stw
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