Stephen Turner – Analog 4.01 review

web stats analyser
Photo of Stephen Turner – Analog 4.01
£free (subject to licence)

IT Reviews has more than 23,000 unique readers every month. How do we know this? Because all Web servers have the ability to record logs of their activities. These logs can include the date, time, file requested, http code, action request, IP of the requesting system, the type of file sent, the size of the file sent and so on and so forth. At the end of each month we have a log file that can be hundreds of megabytes in size, with each line relating to one particular request.

Wading through such a file by hand is pointlessly time-consuming, which is why log file statistics packages exist. One of the best – allegedly used by around 25 percent of all Webmasters – is Analog. Written by Stephen Turner of the Statistical Laboratory in Cambridge, Analog takes raw log files and creates meaningful statistical reports, showing, for example, the number of unique visitors per day, the number of page impressions, which files were downloaded (and how many times), the type of browser and operating system used (see image below), CGI command arguments, host names and/or IP addresses and much more. Reports can be tailored to suit the user, and created in HTML, ASCII or machine-readable output.

This latest version, 4.01, adds considerable international language support (including Armenian, Bosnian, Catalan, traditional Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Slovak, Slovene and Spanish), as well as several new report groups, most interesting of which (to us) are the search engine reports which profile the search words and search queries that visitors to this site typed into a search engine. Some of the requests makes fascinating reading.

Fundamentally, though, Analog is unchanged in principle from its earlier incarnations. It allows Webmasters to take an incomprehensible list of traffic data and create intelligent, comprehensible and very useful – from a site marketing and planning point of view – reports that anyone can understand. The source code in C is available from the author, while compiled executables for the program are available for Mac, VMS, Windows 95/98/NT, Acorn RiscOS, BeOS and BS2000/OSD. These are small – less than 1MB including the comprehensive documentation and images for the graphs.

Company: Stephen Turner


Verdict
There's very little that Analog can't do, given the data available in a log file. It compares favourably with packages costing several hundred pounds, yet is a tiny download and costs nothing. A configuration front-end would be a handy addition for true Webmaster novices, but once you've sorted out your preferences in the .cfg file, the information that Analog can provide is invaluable for any commercial Web project. And it's very quick.