WebTrends Reporting Center 5

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-08-26 Print this article Print

.0"> WebTrends Reporting Center 5.0

For many Web site administrators, WebTrends was probably the first log analysis tool they used, a dedicated system generating reports overnight that had to be e-mailed to anyone else who needed to see them. At the time, the main evaluation criteria was how long it took to generate a report from giant log files. If you could start it in the morning and see results before you left in the evening, it was pretty good. Now, most tools can process a gigabyte log file in less than an hour.

To test WebTrends Reporting Center 5.0, we used a variety of log files, both large and small, from Web servers performing different tasks, a main content site, a commerce site and a streaming media site.

We found WebTrends Reporting Center 5.0 a big improvement over the previous version, 4.0. We especially liked the new Dashboard feature, which allowed us to view all data in an interactive, customizable browser-based interface similar to those found in major corporate portals.

Customizing the WebTrends Desktop was a simple task using the intuitive template editor. We could easily define how the Desktop would appear, create custom Dashboards and choose which reports would be available to users. We could also easily build custom reports and could compare reports from different periods to see trends and differences over time.

A new scenario analysis feature made it possible for us to define common user paths through a site and then do detailed analysis on the visitor experience through these paths. While we found this feature very useful, the standard creation process for it was less than user-friendly, forcing us to enter each step manually in a form interface.

However, another new feature made this and many other process configuration tasks much simpler by making it possible to record actions done within the site using a browser. The WebTrends Map feature installed a plug-in that tied in to our main Reporting Center server and allowed us to record paths as we browsed within our site. However, like the rest of the WebTrends browser interface, this feature worked only in Internet Explorer, not in Netscape 6+ or Mozilla.

Improved access control features enabled us to create users with varying rights within the system, providing good options between administrators and basic users. For example, we could give a user the option to configure filters but not to configure Desktop templates.

Also new in this version are custom data conduits that make it possible to generate meaningful reports from sites running on content management systems or using dynamic scripting languages. In the case of a content management system that generates long, meaningless URLs, the reports could instead show information based on logical sections or groupings. The product includes conduits for several content management systems and for major scripting languages such as Active Server Pages, Cold Fusion, JavaServer Pages and PHP.

WebTrends Reporting Center 5.0, which shipped in June, is available in a $3,500 eBusiness Edition (which is less customizable) and in a $10,500 Enterprise Edition, the version we tested. NetIQ also offers a number of other Web site analysis products, including WebTrends Live, a script-based service that competes directly with Omnitures SiteCatalyst.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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