Re: Tracking hits to PDFs on the web?

Subject: Re: Tracking hits to PDFs on the web?
From: Lou Quillio <public -at- quillio -dot- com>
To: Tom Johnson <thj -at- tampabay -dot- rr -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 09:54:08 -0400

Ed Wurster wrote:

> If the host offers a decent stats package, then the answer may be
> there for you already. For instance, AWStats

> you may need to download the raw log file and analyze it each
> month with a stats package that gives you required detail

Actually these are kinda the same. AWStats *is* a log analyzer,
written in Perl. It produces reports in HTML with optional graphs,
and *may* run on the webserver, but its data is parsed from server logs.

AWStats is the best remaining FOSS webserver log analyzer. Analog
and Webalyzer aren't maintained and don't measure up. It's better
to invest time in AWStats' slightly awkward configuration than waste
time on the others.

Some commercial webhosts offer AWStats, but it's very resource
intensive when run dynamically -- especially when doing DNS lookups.
It's also common enough that robots poke at it if they can find it,
so it can be running more often than just when the webmaster is
using it. For this reason, webhosts are moving away from providing
AWStats. Depending on policy, you may visit your site to learn it's
been suspended for the day, having exhausted its resource allocation
thanks to AWStats grinding away all the time. Secure that remote
AWStats install.

Best way to use AWStats is to download your remote log files and
analyze them with a _local_ instance of AWStats. You'll want to
archive those logs anyway, and this method takes the load off your
remote server. You can script and crontab the log file downloads,
so that the newest logs are waiting for you each morning.

O'Reilly has a very good (and recent) AWStats primer:

For the sites I look after, I use SlimStat (page tagging, quick and
dirty, real time), Google Analytics (page tagging, sexy graphs,
24-hour lag, visitor recognition via cookie), and a local AWStats
instance to munge the logs.

Could substitute Mint for SlimStat (both require PHP/MySQL). Google
Analytics is based on Urchin, which a few hosts still offer
independently. G/A, Urchin, and Mint require Javascript on the
client. Because it sets a cookie, G/A tells you much more about how
individuals move through your site, how often they return, etc.

Only page-tagging apps that use Javascript can return data about
screen resolution, color depth, etc., because you have to get that
from the DOM.

In all cases, freely displaying referrer data on the Web *will* draw
referrer spam, so it's best to at least do word filtering or keep
analyzer output private.


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RE: What's on your flash drive?: From: Tom Johnson
Tracking hits to PDFs on the web?: From: Tom Johnson
Re: Tracking hits to PDFs on the web?: From: Ed Wurster

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