It would be useful if one could access the contents of the web.xml file, prior to the ServletContext being available.
A use case for this is in writing CDI extensions, where it would be useful to access web.xml configuration data. Currently this is not possible to achieve in a portable way, as the ServletContext has not yet started, and is not available to CDI extensions (in EE environments at least).
Since the WEB-INF folder is not on the classpath, using the context ClassLoader is not possible. Perhaps the solution to this is as simple as adding the WEB-INF folder to the application classpath?