W3Perl Review

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W3Perl is an open source log file analyzer written in Perl. It can deliver output in an HTML file with graphs and a sortable text-data table. This program comes with a graphical web interface, and you can retrieve anywhere from a single-page report of statistics to a multi-page collection of hundreds of reports. These reports can be scheduled for hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly processing.

W3Perl can parse Web, FTP, and Mail logfiles, and can do page tagging if you don't have logfile access. Cross-platform support allows you to install W3Perl on any machine that runs Perl, and Windows users have a special installation for different server types, so it's really easy for them. For everyone else, it should be a simple enough of an install that you can just read the documentation to get it done. There isn't a whole lot of information on W3Perl out there in English, but there's enough to get you going.

The administration area is clean and well-designed. In fact, it looks quite a bit like a content management system. At the top is a brief report of a few different, basic statistics including requests, accesses, traffic, and errors. Above that, you have a drop-down navigation menu which allows you to access all of the reports. In the center, there are icon-buttons listing the different types of reports including:

  • Hosts – A table report showing the hosts that have connected, organized by percentage of times connected, and a table reporting the connections by country-code of origin
  • Pages – Table reports and graphs breaking down the pages visited
  • Filetype – Tables listing filetypes on the server by occurrence and number
  • Scripts – A table listing the scripts used on the server and the number of times they occur
  • Status code – A table listing the status of all of the pages, whether or not they are “ok”, redirected, or listing an error
  • Directories – Tables and a graph depicting the amount of times each directory on the site is accessed
  • Traffic – Graphs and tables breaking down traffic by country of origin
  • Download – Table depicting the download frequency of different file types
  • Countries – Map and table showing access from different countries
  • Cities – Breakdown of incoming traffic by city
  • RSS – Table tracking the use of RSS feeds on the site
  • Errors – Bar graph and table detailing error types and frequency
  • Browser – Bar graph and table reporting incoming connections and sorted by browser type, browser version, and operating system
  • Referrer – Table detailing incoming links and their occurrence
  • Search Engine – Tables which list most successful keyword, top search engines, and details for each search engine
  • Documents – Text describing total HTML files, directories, images, etc
  • Sessions – Calendar and text describing average time for a session, number of sessions, number of pages clicked, etc
  • Screensize – Tables listing the percentages of users using each resolution type, color depth, and whether or not they have the Java Plugin
  • Heatmap – Table and color graph of page popularity

The right-hand side has six buttons where you can choose to sort the data real-time, by the day, or all the way up to multiple years.

W3Perl is incredible for a free program. It provides you with many, many options to gather useful data. Navigation is easy once you've explored the administration area a bit, and the tables and graphs are laid out in such a way that they are easy to understand. Overall, W3Perl is certainly a viable option if you need an on-site web statistics program. Just be sure to secure it properly, or you may find yourself in a sticky security situation.

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