HitList creates reports that show you the activity on your web site. Depending on which version of HitList you have, you begin with between 40 to 80 built-in reports that simple analyses to detailed path, advertising, cookie analysis and more. Of course, you can add new reports and/or modify existing ones. Reports can be generated as HTML documents, Microsoft Word documents, plain ASCII documents or comma-separated values for import into a spreadsheet such as Excel. HitList can also send completed reports via email.
The following is a quick summary of how to accomplish the most-commonly requested tasks and some tips and tricks that will help you get up to speed with HitList. We strongly suggest reading this entire Overview before running your first HitList report. You can come back to this topic at any time by selecting Overview from HitList Help.
For More Information
HitList has extensive online Help. From almost any dialog box, if youÍre not sure what to do next, click the Help button. HitList also comes with a printable Applications Guide that walks you through real-world scenarios like tracking advertising campaigns, determining web site ROI, optimizations and much more. Simply click the Applications Guide choice on the Help menu. The Applications Guide requires either Microsoft Word 97 or the freely downloadable Word 97 Viewer which, as of this writing, was available from Microsoft at http://office.microsoft.com and download (wd97vwr32.exe for Windows 95/98, NT).
Reports Based on a Database not Log Files
HitList reports are generated from data stored in a HitList database, not directly from your log files. This gives you the ability to see long-term trends in addition to simple daily statistics. Your logs must be imported into the HitList database before a report can be generated. The easiest way to do this is to simply run a report (Complete Analysis, for example). HitList knows that there is no data in the database yet, so it will either find your logs automatically (if itÍs installed on your web server) or will ask you where your logs are. Then HitList will import the log files and run your first report. You can also use the Log Files tab of the Options dialog to specify which log or log files to use. Make sure that under Options/Logfile you have a wildcard set at the end of the path to the logs, (ie \\computername\c\winnt\logs\*.log to allow pulling multiple logs into the database. You can hit Help under Options/logfile for more information here.
To import additional log files, you can either explicitly tell HitList to re-import your logs with the "Update" button at the top of the HitList main screen, or go into Design mode on a report (ie Complete Analysis), and check the "Update the database before running this report" checkbox at the bottom of the Outline tab, hit OK and run the report. If you choose to have a report update the database, every time you run this report with this option checked, HitList will look for any log files that are either new or have changed since the last time HitList imported logs and load the new data into the database. The built-in Today and Yesterday reports have this switch on by default. You can turn it on for any other report by single-clicking on the report then clicking the Design button. HitList also handles cycled logs automatically (e.g. if your server cycles ACCESS.LOG to ACCESS.00x, HitList will still recognize that it has already loaded the information from the file and will not re-load it.)
Since HitList runs reports based on a database, not the logs, once a log file has been loaded, you can back up the file to a "permanent" location (ie put it on a Jaz drive, CD-ROM, etc.) and then delete the log file from the directory on the webserver.
HitList can also import logs via FTP if necessary. Again, check Options/Logfile/Help for more information on this topic.
Unless otherwise specified, HitList will put its database at \program files\common files\marketwave\hitlist.mwd. If you want to put it in a different location or under a different name, move the .mwd file to the new location, then go to the Options/Database tab. Hit the Browse button, browse to the new location of the .mwd file, and double-click on it, then hit OK to save this change.
Summary vs. Detail Data
HitList summarizes data as it loads the database. This allows HitList to run most report elements very quickly regardless of the size of the original log files. HitList gives you the option of storing both summary and detail data (the default) or just Summary or just Detail data. Since Summary data is much more compact than Detail data, we suggest that larger sites consider storing just Summary data. See Summary vs. Detail data for more information.
To run an existing report (Complete Analysis, Marketing Analysis, etc.) just double-click on the report.
To change an existing report, you should probably first make a copy of it in case you make a mistake. You can copy a report by right-clicking its icon, choosing Copy, then Paste it into the folder you want. Then click on the copied report and select Design. Every element (a table, a calculation or a graph) in the report is listed in the Outline tab. To delete an element you donÍt need, click on it and press Delete. Double-click an element (ie "Most Popular Pages" to modify its Properties. One modification you might make is to change the "limit results to" setting in the Definition tab to "Top 100 Items" instead of "Top 10 Items", for example.
Use the Toolbox (usually to the left of the Report Outline - hit "show toolbox" to see it come up) to add new elements to a report. To add a table or simple calculation, expand the Tables list by clicking the + symbol next to the word Tables in the Toolbox. A list of over 100 tables and calculations will be shown. Choose the element you want to add and drag it into the Outline or click the Add to Report button at the top of the toolbox. To add a graph, expand the Graphs list in the toolbox. Click OK to close the Design window and save your changes. For more information, when in Design mode on the Outline tab, hit the Help button on the right.
Scheduling Reports and Database Updates
HitList includes an Event Scheduler that lets you automate updating the database and running reports. To run a report at a specified time, select Event Scheduler from the Tools menu and click New. Now select "run report" and pick the report you want to run, then set the day/time to run it (e.g. Every day at 1am, Every Monday at 1am or 1st Day of the Month at 2am). To update the database when this report is run, simply make sure that the report has the "Update the database before running this report" checkbox selected when you open it in Design mode. If you want several reports to run at about the same time, schedule these reports for the same time or slightly later, then HitList will automatically queue reports so that they all run in the order listed in the Scheduled Events list. Note that you DON'T need to have these subsequent reports update the database also, just the first one.
You can also schedule database maintenance functions such as Optimize the Database, Cycle the Database, Delete Old Data, etc. Go to Database Manager/Tools tab and hit Help for information on what options you have, then when in the Event Scheduler, you can pick one or more of these maintenance activities to run.
Tip: Be sure to check the "Enable Event Scheduler" item in the Tools menu or no scheduled events will occur.
Tip: If youÍre running on Windows NT, you can install HitList as an NT Service so it can run scheduled reports invisibly in the background even when no one is logged on.
Running Reports for Multiple Servers
If you manage multiple virtual servers (i.e. one machine that responds to a number of different names) or multiple physical servers, HitList can help you by providing reports that show both overall combined statistics and reports that focus on just one server. See Using Virtual Servers for more information.
Output Formats/Emailing Reports
HitList can generate reports as HTML documents (the default), as Microsoft Word documents, as plain ASCII text or as a series of comma-separated text files (for use with spreadsheets like Excel). Any or all of these can be created at the same time. Highlight a report, click Design (see Modifying Reports above) and go to the Output tab. Choose the output formats you want and enter a file name for each type of output (e.g. MyReport.HTM, MyReport.Doc, etc.).
Tip: Unless otherwise told, HitList will create all HTML documents as output.htm. While this is often fine for interactive reports, remember to explicitly enter unique file names for scheduled reports or each new report will overwrite the previous one. You may want to look at the HitList Help topic "substitution fields" for more information on filenames and their output.
Reports generated as Word documents or plain ASCII text can be automatically sent via email by checking the Send as email message to box and entering the full email names of the recipients (e.g. You@YourCompany.com, YourBoss@YourCompany.com, YourClient@HerCompany.com). If you use POP/SMTP mail, use commas to separate multiple recipients; use a semi-colon to separate recipients if you use Microsoft MAPI). Note: Before you can send email, you have to tell HitList what email account to send from, the name of your email server, etc. These settings are under Options/General at the bottom. See HitList Help/Using Email for more information.
Tip: If you want to keep an archive of reports, you can use a substitution field to have Hit List add date and/or time information to the report file names. For example, to add todayÍs date to a report, enter the output file name as something like Today(@mm-dd-yy@).htm. Also note that HitList normally deletes GIFs that are more than a day old to keep your hard drive clear. If you want to archive reports, you should turn this feature off by unchecking the "Delete old GIFs" checkbox when modifying a report in Design mode - the setting is on the Options tab.
As your database grows, it will take HitList an increasingly longer time to update the database and run reports. There is also a fixed 1GB limit on the size of the HitList database (HitList Enterprise and HitList Live can also store data to a Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle database which has no limitation). Here are a few simple ways to speed things up.
1. DonÍt add information you donÍt need. Most logs are comprised of between 50 and 80% graphic file requests. If you primarily care about the number of visits and visitors you got, not the gross number of requests (aka Hits), you should probably keep requests for graphics from ever entering the database. You can do this by entering something like *.gif,*.jpg,*.jpeg into the appropriate area in Options/Updates tab.
Tip: If you have ads on your site, you probably need to keep requests for these GIFs. In most cases you can still remove requests for other graphics by entering a more complete URL for things to exclude. For example, if all your normal graphics are stored in an /Images/ directory and your ads in an /Ads/ directory, tell HitList to exclude requests from /Images/* instead of *.gif.
2. Determine the maximum time range that a report must cover. For most people, this is one week or one month. At the end of this time, use the "Cycle" function in the Database Manager (Tools/Database Manager/Tools) to copy the current database to an archive and begin a new one. The new database will retain all the settings from the original database (URL Groups, Site Name Groups, etc.) as well as the list of all IP addresses that have already been looked-up and log files that have already been loaded. You can automate this task with the Event Scheduler.
3. As the database grows, it becomes increasingly filled with empty space. In some cases, as much as 40% of the total size of the file may be wasted. You can remove empty space by using the "Optimize the Database" function in the Database Manager. You can automate this task with the Event Scheduler.
4. If youÍre running reports for more than one server, you can create a different database for each virtual server. See Using Virtual Servers for more information.
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