Log-Analysis Tools

Just having a Web server is sufficiently exhilarating for some, but most server administrators also need to know which parts of their sites are getting hits (or not) and where all those visitors are coming from. Active Concepts' Funnel Web 3.1 and Summary.Net's Summary 1.2.3, both available in Standard and Pro versions, meet the analysis needs of Web servers large and small. Funnel Web's forte lies in the graphical representation of its findings, and Summary's is fast report generation.

The simpler of the two, Summary is a lightweight Web server in itself, serving up the results of its analyses by dynamically generating pages on demand. After you launch Summary, all further interaction takes place within a Web browser that's pointed at the machine on which Summary is running. The configuration interface is straightforward, allowing you to specify such details as server names, virtual-domain information, and which hit-count filters to use.

In contrast to Summary's Web-based configuration, Funnel Web's configuration occurs within the application itself–in a series of cramped, small panels within the Preferences dialog box, unfortunately. We had some difficulty configuring Funnel Web Pro to handle the virtual-domain scheme in our test files, which used a different top-level directory for each domain. Summary not only didn't have any such difficulties but also lets you truncate the top-level directories' names for legibility.

The Pro version of Funnel Web handles up to 20 million hits per analysis (compared to the Standard version's ceiling of 5 million) and offers two features missing from the Standard version: advanced analysis, such as following the paths users take through a site, and the ability to process virtual domains. The Pro version of Summary goes beyond the Standard version by letting you define HTML headers and footers in the output, save report pages as static HTML files instead of just generating them dynamically, and analyze up to 500 virtual domains versus only 3.

A difference between Summary and Funnel Web lies in their resource requirements. When analyzing 100MB of compressed log files whose IP addresses had been translated to domain names, Summary was significantly faster at both processing the logs and generating the report–and used less RAM as well. The two also differ in the way they present reports: Summary's reports tend to be mainly tabular, with minimal graphics, whereas Funnel Web produces colorful charts and saves them as a collection of HTML or RTF files.


With its straightforward configuration interface, svelte resource requirements, and reasonably priced Pro version, Summary 1.2.3 is the all-around favorite. Funnel Web 3.1 offers a well-thought-out analysis engine and (in its Pro version) high-end features, although it could be faster and easier to use.


RATING:

3.0 mice
PROS: Plentiful, colorful report options. CONS: Comparatively slow; pricey. COMPANY: Active Concepts (800/551-5282, http://www.activeconcepts.com ). #estStandard, $249; Pro, $499.


RATING:

3.5 mice
PROS: Comprehensive analysis options; fast; uses comparatively little RAM. CONS: Minimal graphics. COMPANY: Summary.Net ( summary@summary.net, http://www.summary.net ). LIST PRICE: Standard, $59; Pro, $249.

August 1999 page: 51

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