Deploying a Web site and not knowing anything about its visitors is like spear-fishing blindfolded.
Fortunately, applications such as WebTrends Enterprise Suite, Marketwave Hit List, and net.Genesis' net.Analysis do a nice job helping webmasters translate Web site log files into useful information, but don't extend past the basics.
This latest version of WebTrends Enterprise Suite continues to expand its horizons. The suite is primarily a log file analyser, but WebTrends has enhanced a number of other useful modules, or cartridges, that extend the reach of this suite.
The Proxy Server Analysis cartridge helps track usage trends on the site; the Link Analysis cartridge examines the links on your site and checks their integrity; and the Alerting and Monitoring cartridge monitors any IP device. WebTrends Enterprise Suite offers a comprehensive toolbox for webmasters.
The Log Analyzer recognises more than 30 Web server log formats. Key features I found useful were the ease with which I could set up a Web site profile, set up filters, and configure other custom options.
WebTrends' unique FastTrends Database stores downloaded log data for later use. Log Analyzer simply adds new data to the existing database - cutting back on reporting time. I could also have the Log Analyzer look up data from an external database.
The advantage of using FastTrends compared to an external database is its speedy per- formance and use of real-time analysis and reporting. This version features expandable and collapsible report tables and the capability to separate report sections into individual report files.
The Proxy Analysis cartridge also received a slight facelift. Real-time analysis has been added, as well as support for various proxy servers.
Building on the somewhat generic Link Analysis cartridge, WebTrends has dramatically improved with the addition of Site Manager, which, through visual tools, gives you a better understanding of the site's structure and layout.
Once a link analysis has been completed, I turned to the Site Manager to view my site by file type, link type, graphical Web chart, hyperbolic tree, or group view.
Another helpful addition is seven different Web data views. There is an internal browser view, parent pages, internal links, and more. Expanding the Link Analysis cartridge are filtering options that helped focus the scope of my analysis by excluding URLs, file types, or images.
A key component is the Monitoring, Alerting, and Recovery cartridge. WebTrends pings a device and reports on three levels of alarm: green, yellow, and red.
WebTrends is strengthened by its component approach. Cartridges can be added as needed, making WebTrends Enterprise a great choice for organisations that want comprehensive site information and reporting capabilities.
The Bottom Line
WebTrends Enterprise Suite 3.0
This suite is a must-have for any organisation wishing to gain insight into who is using its Web sites and how.
Pros: Easy to use; many filters to help customise final results; program modularity allows the addition of other components as needed.
Cons: Server limited to Windows OS.
Platforms: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT.
Price: $2435 or $327 for an annual subscriptionWebTrendswww.webtrends.com