Track Your Visitors, Using PHP

There are many different traffic analysis tools, ranging from simple counters to complete traffic analyzers. Although there are some free ones, most of them come with a price tag. Why not do it yourself? With PHP, you can easily create a log file within minutes. In this article I will show you how!

Getting the information

The most important part is getting the information from your visitor. Thankfully, this is extremely easy to do in PHP (or any other scripting language for that matter). PHP has a special global variable called $_SERVER which contains several environment variables, including information about your visitor. To get all the information you want, simply use the following code:

// Getting the information

$ipaddress = $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'];

$page = "http://{$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']}{$_SERVER['PHP_SELF']}";

$page .= iif(!empty($_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']), "?{$_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']}", "");

$referrer = $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'];

$datetime = mktime();

$useragent = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

$remotehost = @getHostByAddr($ipaddress);

As you can see the majority of information comes from the $_SERVER variable. The mktime() (http://nl2.php.net/mktime) and getHostByAddr() (http://nl2.php.net/manual/en/function.gethostbyaddr.php) functions are used to get additional information about the visitor.

Note: I used a function in the above example called iif(). You can get this function at http://www.phpit.net/code/iif-function.

Logging the information

Now that you have all the information you need, it must be written to a log file so you can later look at it, and create useful graphs and charts. To do this you need a few simple PHP function, like fopen (http://www.php.net/fopen) and fwrite (http://www.php.net/fwrite).

The below code will first create a complete line out of all the information. Then it will open the log file in "Append" mode, and if it doesn't exist yet, create it.

If no errors have occurred, it will write the new logline to the log file, at the bottom, and finally close the log file again.

// Create log line

$logline = $ipaddress . '|' . $referrer . '|' . $datetime . '|' . $useragent . '|' . $remotehost . '|' . $page . " ";

// Write to log file:

$logfile = '/some/path/to/your/logfile.txt';

// Open the log file in "Append" mode

if (!$handle = fopen($logfile, 'a+')) {

die("Failed to open log file");

}

// Write $logline to our logfile.

if (fwrite($handle, $logline) === FALSE) {

die("Failed to write to log file");

}

fclose($handle);

Now you've got a fully function logging module. To start tracking visitors on your website simply include the logging module into your pages with the include() function (http://www.php.net/include):

include ('log.php');

Okay, now I want to view my log file

After a while you'll probably want to view your log file. You can easily do so by simply using a standard text editor (like Notepad on Windows) to open the log file, but this is far from desired, because it's in a hard-to-read format.

Let's use PHP to generate useful overviews for is. The first thing that needs to be done is get the contents from the log file in a variable, like so:

// Open log file

$logfile = "/some/path/to/your/logfile.txt";

if (file_exists($logfile)) {

$handle = fopen($logfile, "r");

$log = fread($handle, filesize($logfile));

fclose($handle);

} else {

die ("The log file doesn't exist!");

}

Now that the log file is in a variable, it's best if each logline is in a separate variable. We can do this using the explode() function (http://www.php.net/explode), like so:

// Seperate each logline

$log = explode(" ", trim($log));

After that it may be useful to get each part of each logline in a separate variable. This can be done by looping through each logline, and using explode again:

// Seperate each part in each logline

for ($i = 0; $i < count($log); $i++) {

$log[$i] = trim($log[$i]);

$log[$i] = explode('|', $log[$i]);

}

Now the complete log file has been parsed, and we're ready to start generating some interesting stuff.

The first thing that is very easy to do is getting the number of pageviews. Simply use count() (http://www.phpit.net/count) on the $log array, and there you have it;

echo count($log) . " people have visited this website.";

You can also generate a complete overview of your log file, using a simple foreach loop and tables. For example:

// Show a table of the logfile

echo '';

echo 'IP Address';

echo 'Referrer';

echo 'Date';

echo 'Useragent';

echo 'Remote Host';

foreach ($log as $logline) {

echo '';

echo '' . $logline['0'] . '';

echo '' . urldecode($logline['1']) . '';

echo '' . date('d/m/Y', $logline['2']) . '';

echo '' . $logline['3'] . '';

echo '' . $logline['4'] . '';

echo '';

}

echo '';

You can also use custom functions to filter out search engines and crawlers. Or create graphs using PHP/SWF Charts (http://www.maani.us/charts/index.php). The possibilities are endless, and you can do all kinds of things!

In Conclusion...

In this article I have shown you have to create a logging module for your own PHP website, using nothing more than PHP and its built-in functions. To view the log file you need to parse it using PHP, and then display it in whatever way you like. It is up to you to create a kick-ass traffic analyzer.

If you still prefer to use a pre-built traffic analyzer, have a look at http://www.hotscripts.com.

About The Author

Dennis Pallett is a young tech writer, with much experience in ASP, PHP and other web technologies. He enjoys writing, and has written several articles and tutorials. To find more of his work, look at his websites at http://www.phpit.net, http://www.aspit.net and http://www.ezfaqs.com.

In The News:

Introducing Our New Website  Security Boulevard
Brad Loiselle  Hindustan Times
The Future of Web Development  Business 2 Community
Fast Web Media rebrands as Neon  Business Up North

Learn What 98% of Targeted Visitors Do On Your Website

Getting a Targeted Visitor to a website is a waste... Read More

Website Development: Become Your Own Expert

Starting and maintaining a business is challenging enough without the... Read More

Earn On Offshore Web Design and Development

If you have some experience in web site design and... Read More

Create Huge Income From Your Web Site - 10 Easy Ways

The cost of setting up a web site is dirt... Read More

How to Make Your Own Free Website in 8.5 Minutes or Less

Designing and creating your own website does not have to... Read More

How Your Own Website Helps Your Small Business Grow

What do you mean, you don't have a website for... Read More

The Secret Benefit Of Accessibility: Part 2 - A Higher Search Engine Ranking

An additional benefit of website accessibility is an improved performance... Read More

My Yahoo Search - Beyond Bookmarks

Yahoo has long offered email, an online calendar, notes, bookmarks,... Read More

Ten Major Tips to Develop a Multilingual Web Site to Work

If you are living in a country that its native... Read More

Having a Portfolio on the Internet Can Help you Infiltate the Workforce

If you're an up and coming graphic/web designer just out... Read More

Building Websites with Directory Generator

Directory Generator, a product from Armand Morin and Marc Quarles,... Read More

Ever Wondered What Challenges Other People With Their Web Site?

Have you ever wondered what challenges are faced by other... Read More

Things to Consider Before Starting a Website

In the time that I have been using the Internet,... Read More

Why Your Business Needs a Website

Even with the steady growth of the World Wide Web,... Read More

Websites: You Get What You Pay For!

So you finally decided to invest in a web presence... Read More

5 Essential Traits Of A Home Business Website

So you've decided to start an online work at home... Read More

Why Your Brick-and-Mortar Biz Needs A Website

The internet has taken over our lives with a vengeance,... Read More

The Topic Of Your Website

The first thing you will have to deal building your... Read More

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) & Web Accessibility

There's been widespread speculation about the new legislation being introduced... Read More

How to Build a Database Driven Web Site

If you ever want to create a state directory, article... Read More

10 Tips For A Successful Website

Have you ever thought the secret behind the success of... Read More

What Does An Ex-Basketball Coach Know About Pulling Web Metrics?

In my previous life.....Actually, my previous JOB life, I was... Read More

6 Steps To Your Own Website

A lot of people these days are interested in getting... Read More

Setting Up A CGI Script On Your Web Site

Before you set up any scripts you will need some... Read More

Tips for Building a Great Business Website

A website is lifeline of internet home business. In order... Read More