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RE: counters

From: David Norris <kg9ae@geocities.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 18:59:29 -0500
To: "Kristine Bradow" <kbradow@ece.eng.wayne.edu>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000601bdb695$edd3b960$264378cc@illusionary.dyn.ml.org>
Creating an accessible counter would not be difficult given the proper
tools.  Obviously, you would need to use a counter that doesn't rely on
images to display its values.  This is only a 'hack' method of creating a
counter, anyway.  Image-based counters are used because many people don't
have access to some sort of embedded script language.  And, others don't
know how to use the scripting capabilities they have.

But, first, let us take an objective look at the situation:

What is the goal of the counters?
	Do they need to show users the visitor count?
	Do they need to show you the visitor count?
	Do they need to do both?
	Do the counts need to appear on every page?
		If yes, Why? Is there a good reason
	Can the counts be shown on one page?
		If no, Why not? Is there a good reason

Do you have access to the server logs?
	If you aren't sure, find out.  This is much more useful than simple
counters.  A program such as Analog
(http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~sret1/analog/) would give you quite a few
statistics to help you manage your documents and links.  Analog will allow
you to see links to erroneous URIs, such as 404(object not found), the
referrer to the bad URI, who accessed the URI and when, etc.  You can use
this processed log information to generate statistics for each page.  Or,
you can have Analog generate the statistics for you.  Analog's statistics
generation isn't completely accessible, but, Stephen Turner is looking into
alternative ways to display the output.  However, Analog will output formats
that can be used by other scripts to generate custom, accessible statistics.

Do you have access to SSI, PERL, or PHP?
	If you have SSI and PERL, you could use a text-based
	counter and have it called from each page.  This could
	print text into the page, or, simply increment the count
	in a data file.  You could view the counter
	values from some central location.

	Also, if you have SSI you could use a text-based counter written
	in C or any other language.

	If you have PHP, you could embed a counter in each page.
	This could print text into the page, or, simply increment
	the count in a data file.  Again, you could view the counter
	values from some central location.

Overall, an accessible counter is feasible.  Is it necessary to have a
counter on each page?  If you believe it is, then there are many ways to
accomplish this.  I think the information is useful in administering a site.
But, I don't think that one must include it in every page.  I prefer using
Analog to give me detailed statistics.  However, some folks don't have
access to their server logs.  In these cases, it may come down to using an
embedded script.  Or, worse, an image-based counter.

I will say that some image-based counters, such as WWWCount (popularly,
Count.cgi), can have the display turned off.  You can create a separate page
that displays the values of all counters.  There is still a tiny image on
the page, but, it is blank and serves no visible purpose.  This is crude,
but, it would work in a pinch.

,David Norris

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Received on Thursday, 23 July 1998 19:58:21 GMT

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