|By David Shadovitz||
|August 23, 2002 12:00 AM EDT||
As a member of Team Macromedia I respond to a lot of questions posted on the Macromedia Forums ( http://webforums.macromedia.com/coldfusion).
My responses often contain sample code, and I realized that many questions arose over and over again. So rather than repeatedly typing the same code snippets, I created a small Web site ( http://members.evolt.org/dshadovi) to hold them. Now I can simply point to the relevant page when I respond to a question.
Being a nosy guy, I wanted to know how the site was being used. Yes, there are tools that do a wonderful job of presenting this information, such as Analog and WebTrends. But they require access to the Web server logs, which I don't have. Anyway, I wanted to roll my own. That's the fun of CF!
My first cut at tracking traffic was to use session management and CFMAIL. I set up Application.cfm to send me a message whenever a new session was started. It worked, but sometimes the mail was overwhelming. The biggest problem with this technique, though, was that it made it hard to perform analysis. I couldn't easily determine which page was getting the most hits, or how many visitors use Netscape.
The right technique, and the one I'll describe in detail, is to record the site traffic in a database and use CF's graphing capabilities to display it.
Recording the Site Traffic
Using MySQL, I created a single table to record information on each hit. Listing 1 shows the structure of that table. As you can see, each record contains the page visited, the visitor's IP address and browser (the user agent), and the date and time of the visit.
A record is inserted into that database table each time the site is hit. Listing 2 shows the code to do this. This code belongs in Application.cfm.
Note that the INSERT statement doesn't include the time of the hit. When no value is specified for a field of type TIMESTAMP, which cannot be null, MySQL automatically inserts the current date and time. I could have passed the value #CreateODBC DateTime(Now())#, but it's more efficient to let the database take care of it.
You'll also see that I've massaged the name of the page a bit. For all of the pages on my site, CGI.SCRIPT_ NAME starts with "dshadovi/", so I strip this off. I also strip off the ".cfm" extension, since the name of the page, not the extension, is what's important for the graphical display of the traffic.
Don't chide me for not using CFQUERYPARAM. I do use it, but I omitted it here in the interest of readability.
Displaying the Site Traffic
Now that the pieces are in place to record the site traffic, we're ready to write the code to graphically display it. Listing 3 is a complete CFML template that does exactly that. Figure 1 is a screenshot of this template in action; you can also see it live at http://members.evolt.org/dshadovi/traffic.cfm.
An exception is an error that occurs at runtime. Most if not all programming languages offer a way to handle exceptions. The goal of this handling is to minimize the damage done by the exception. Sometimes it's possible to repair the problem or to work around it. If not, the application can at least provide a detailed error message.
ColdFusion provides CFTRY/CFCATCH, modeled on C's try/catch statements. Using this construct, the ColdFusion Server tries to execute a designated block of code, and if it catches any exceptions it executes another designated block of code.
I use CFTRY/CFCATCH in Listings 2 and 3. Let's take a closer look.
Listing 2 shows a snippet of code in Application.cfm, which inserts a record into the database. The record contains information about the current page visit. Now, the main goal of my Web site is to provide helpful code to other programmers. Tracking visits to the site is only a minor goal, mostly to satisfy my curiosity. I certainly wouldn't want problems with this minor goal to interfere with my major goal.
What kinds of problems might happen? Well, the database server could go down, or the database's transaction log may be full. Either of these would make it impossible to insert a record, but there's no reason why that should render my site unusable. So I put the CFQUERY tag in a CFTRY block. If there are any runtime errors, the CFCATCH code block is executed. The CFCATCH block here is empty because there's no remedial action to take. If a record can't be inserted, that's okay. Execution continues on with whatever code follows the entire CFTRY block.
In Listing 2 the protected code block, a CFQUERY tag, did under-the-covers work. Not so for Listing 3, in which the protected code block is a CFGRAPH tag. There is surely a user impact if the graph isn't displayed. So in this case the CFCATCH block isn't empty. Rather, it lets the user know there should have been a graph, and points to a possible cause of the problem. (Okay, I should also have code here to automatically e-mail the details of the problem to the server administrator, or to log the problem.)
I've shown here two uses of CFTRY/CFCATCH. Beyond this, CFTRY's TYPE attribute lets you take different actions based on the type of exception. The ColdFusion Server also provides CFCATCH variables that contain details of the exception. And CFTHROW gives you the power to declare that an exception has taken place.
Using CFTRY/CFCATCH to handle exceptions lets you compartmentalize your code, leading to more robust applications.
The code uses CFGRAPH, introduced in CF5. Those of you using earlier versions of CF are not out of luck, though. You laggards can use the old bar chart Java graphlet that used to come with CF. Do a Google search on "About ColdFusion Graphlets" for more information, or contact me. At the other end of the spectrum ColdFusion MX offers CFCHART in place of CFGRAPH, but that should be a straightforward change.
Each bar in the bar graph represents a page, and the bar's height indicates the number of hits on that page. CFGRAPH's URLColumn attribute provides a drill-down capability when using the Flash format. I've set it up so that clicking on a bar will lead you to that bar's page.
You may notice that although I record each visitor's IP address, I don't display it anywhere. That's because I record it for hacker control, not for a simple view of the site traffic.
A programmer's work is never done (especially when he's got a paying client), so here are some thoughts for future enhancements:
Let me close with thanks to evolt.org, a community for Web developers, for hosting my site.
|David Shadovitz 11/01/02 04:00:00 PM EST|
I've found a good use for my traffic information. One site which I track contains an important search feature. Now, on the page which displays the form for a search, I also display the user's last few searches. They are displayed as hyperlinks which the user can simply click on to re-do a search.
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 916
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 5, 2016 10:30 AM EST Reads: 612
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
Dec. 5, 2016 10:30 AM EST Reads: 220
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Dec. 5, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 7,051
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Dec. 5, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 993
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web ...
Dec. 5, 2016 07:15 AM EST Reads: 1,286
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,796
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,619
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:30 AM EST Reads: 745
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 5, 2016 06:15 AM EST Reads: 903
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Dec. 5, 2016 06:00 AM EST Reads: 1,679
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
Dec. 5, 2016 04:15 AM EST Reads: 1,618
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Dec. 5, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 5,131
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Dec. 5, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 4,709
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 03:30 AM EST Reads: 951
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dec. 5, 2016 01:30 AM EST Reads: 783
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,579
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:30 AM EST Reads: 6,106
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:15 AM EST Reads: 1,169
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 4, 2016 10:45 PM EST Reads: 1,015