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Chapter 21. Forums, Chats, and Other Add... > Counters and Web Statistics - Pg. 364

Forums, Chats, and Other Add-Ons Tip 364 Many Java-based chats offer more of the same, except for the look-and-feel. To explore other chats and pick one that agrees with you, try the Freeware Java Chat page at http:// freewarejava.com/applets/chat.shtml. Counters and Web Statistics Most Web authors like to know how well their sites are doing--how many people visit, which pages they look at, and what about the site seems to be succeeding. That's the whole point of Web sta- tistics, which is what we'll talk about in this section. Most Web server applications keep fairly detailed statistics about the activities on the site, including which pages have been visited, how often, by which IP addresses, and sometimes which page the user came from most recently (the "referrer" page). If you're interested in those things, you'll need to dig into your Web server's statistics log files. Not all Web authors have access to these log files. If you don't, or if you simply want a more visual approach to page tracking, you can add a counter to your pages. Most counters act a little like a car's odometer, counting up one tick every time that particular page is visited. Some are more sophisticated, only counting unique visitors, giving you more detailed statistics, and so on. Accessing Your Web Statistics If you run your own Web server, you probably have some idea where your Web statistics are stored --most likely you have a log file that's auto-generated by the Web server software and stored somewhere on the server computer. (Unix-compatible computers generally place a log file in the / var/log/httpd/ directory, for instance.) If you have an ISP-based Web site, the ISP probably still makes a log file available to you somewhere in your Web space, with which you can download and work. This log file is filled with an entry for every access request, whether it's for a Web page, an image, or some other resource on your Web site. Generally speaking, just looking at such a log page will tell you next to nothing about your Web site. Instead, you'll need a program of some kind that can take that log file (or, more appropriately, a copy of that log file), analyze it, and report its findings to you. Perhaps the most popular application for doing that is Analog (http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/ ~sret1/analog/), which is available for nearly any computer operating system. It's not much of an application in its own right--that is, you don't do much clicking or choosing while it's running. Instead, you launch the application and point it to the log file. (Often this simply means having the log file in the same directory as the application.) It analyzes the log and generates an HTML document that gives you an idea of how well your Web site is performing (see Figure 21.4).