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Free Visitor Tracking Services

I've mentioned Extreme Tracking and Flag Counter in the Visitor Tracking section my overview of free web services. The page you are on now is, for the moment, just for more details about the RevolverMaps offering.


RevolverMaps doesn't just give you revolving maps! I haven't put one of the RevolverMaps widgets on this page, but if you go to the example a little way down my ArduServer page (it will open in a new tab or window), and click on the "four-arrows-around-a-circle" icon at the lower left, in the revolving map, you will be taken to a statistics page. (You can't, by the way (at 7/11), set your RevolverMap to use a new window for that. If your page is good, people will find it again!)

The statistics page gives you.... besides a gorgeous, larger, globe!... some buttons, above the upper right hand corner of the globe graphic. Buttons for 2D, 3D and "Bars".

"Bars" tells you the countries you've had visits from. You can create code for a "bars" or 2D map widget for direct incorporation in your page just as easily as I set up the globe that you see on my ArduServer page.

The options you have for setting up the widgets are wonderful, and easy to use. Go and play. You don't have to "register", or anything. There's a widget preview. But the options are not the reason I set up this page. I set it up to delve into some details of what you can track with the free RevolvingMaps service.

I started with a globe widget on my page about free web services. Then I got to wondering... do the Nice People at RevolvingMaps allow us to have more than one visitor tracking widget? Yes! (Hurrah! Thank you!)

Do I just copy the code for my first widget to the second page I want to track visitors to? Well... maybe.

You can, and may, do that. If you do, the widget on either page will show all of the traffic to either of the pages.

In a minute, I'll go into the underlying principles. For a moment, bear with me as I explore scenarios...

In my case, I have a globe widget on my ArduServer page and a globe widget on my page about free web services. Does each show the traffic to both pages? No. Because I went to the RevolvingMaps page and created new code from scratch when I wanted to add the second widget. I pasted that code into the second page. Because of how I did things, each widget tracks just visits to the page it is on.

Suppose you have some related pages, such as the pages in my nascent Flat Earth Academy? And suppose you wanted to track visits to any of those pages, on a "combined results" widget.

You would start by creating code for a new widget, from scratch, and put that on the first page in the set of related pages. You would then copy that widget code to each of the related pages. The widget on any page would show the visits to any of the pages in the set.

Do you want a rotating globe on every page? Probably not... and here's the way around that!

Put the rotating globe, or 2D display, or "Bars" display on a few well chosen pages. And put a "Button" widget on the other pages in the set. We haven't met the "Button" widget yet, but it too can be created from the main RevolverMaps page. It creates a button(!) to go on your page. If users click on the button, it brings opens the big globe at revolvermaps.com displaying all visitor locations and recent hits live and in real time.

To make the button, you will start making a widget from scratch, "forgetting" for the moment that it is going to be associated with an existing widget and the data stored by it and its clones.

There is a little "twist" you have to be careful to employ when creating new widgets to collect and report data for a set of pages. On each of the widget code design pages, next to the box (under the heading "Copy the code to your site") with the code in it, if you look, you will see two radio buttons: "New map" and "Update".

You use "New Map" to start tracking your first page, or a new set of pages.

You use "Update" to create code for a new widget which will track visits to any one of a set of related pages. As soon as you select the "Update" radio button, a new edit box opens for you to indicate the URL (www-thingie)

Word of advice: When create your first RevolverMaps widget, and put it on a page, also put a comment line on the page saying what page the widget was created for. This will help you keep track of which pages are within which data collecting groups. And it will give you the URL of the page you need to enter if you ever decide to use the "Update" option during widget code generation.

Underlying principles

I've only used the Javascript-driven widgets. For those of you wanting to put RevolverMaps widgets on things like a blog, or a Wordpress.com driven page, or a Tagged.com profile, go to the FAQs page. There are all sorts of goodies awaiting all of us there.

In every(?) case, the widget code created for you by RevolverMaps will cause an enquiry to a RevolverMaps server whenever someone loads the page you've put the code into. Part of the code is a "serial number" which allows the RevolverMaps server to know which set of visitor data to use. When the enquiry goes to the RevolverMaps server, not only the serial number is passed, but also certain information about the computer the page was loaded into. Don't get all upset about privacy issues... that information can be tapped lots of ways, anyway.

One thing you should be aware of... not that it is likely to arise in your case....

I was once using a similar service with some pages hosted by CompuServe. (See how ancient I am?

Two things happened....

What do I mean "service went bad"? What I mean is that they started sending things which turned up on my page which weren't satisfactory. Weren't what they were supposed to be sending. So people visiting "my" pages saw things I didn't want them subjected to.

Simple to cure... usually. Usually, you would just take the code out of your page! Once that was done, the malefactor would be neutralized.

However, because of the extremely unusual action by CompuServe, I couldn't edit my page to take the code out. Nor could I remove the page from the web!

So... where there's a way for something to go wrong, eventually it probably will. But the internet has "grown up" a lot since the unhelpful actions by CompuServe, and I can't imaging such a thing happening today. But it illustrates the fact that the more complex your page is, the more ways there are for problems to arise.

But I'm still happy to have javascript on my pages, in general, and very happy to have the RevolverMaps javascript on my pages!

One last "Oh by the way....": Java and javascript are not the same thing. If for some reason (I can't think of one) you don't like Java, don't let that put you off javascript. I would go to Wikipedia if I wanted to know more.

Give it a try!

If you have a web page, and are competent to alter the raw HTML in it, I would encourage you to give RevolverMaps a try. You don't have to "register" or anything. You can always take the code out again if you tire of it.

Even if you are using help to create web pages, maybe just using a blog service, it is worth trying to get a RevolverMaps widget into your page. Your preferred platform should have a users forum. Ask about RevolverMaps there... someone's probably already invented the wheel. If they haven't, ask about "inserting raw HTML code". If there isn't a way, consider moving to a "grown-up's" put-things-on-the-web service!


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