WWW Homepage Access Counter and Clock!

Three-in-one (Counter+Clock+Date)

If you see the counter, clock or date image as 888888, then you are using a browser which can not be trusted. For untrusted browsers, no counter hit is recorded, no time or date is displayed and the literal digit string is displayed. This feature guarantees that the counter can not be accessed remotely to mess up the datafile from a browser like yours. I consider a browser untrusted if it does not return the environment variable HTTP_REFERER. Some entries in the log file are made including the browser type.

Note, this strict mode of the program is experimental at this time. You can decide whether you want this option or not while you run the Count-config script.

Table of Contents



This is a CGI program to keep record of the raw hits of a web page. It generates a GIF image of the number of hits and returns to the browser as an in-lined image. The program also has run-time option not to show the digit images, this way the hits can be kept without displaying it. The hits can be be monitored without incrementing from a separate page as well. Almost all of the features are run-time options. The hits are no way accurate. Someone can reload the page again and again to increase the hits. However, people like to see how many times someone visited their page. The same program can be used to count hits for any number of web pages for any number of users. The program can be used to display time or date as well. The time or date of any place in the word can be displayed by specifying a timezone string for that location. The date can be formatted in any combination of MMDDYY (Month-Day-Year). This program started as a fun to play with CGI programming but due to enormous interest, and feature request, it has turned in to the most configurable counter on the web.

The program is distributed as a gzip'd tar archive. If you do not have gzip/gunzip, it's available at: prep.ai.mit.edu.


Directory Structure

Before going to the configuration procedure, please browse through the default directory structure below. It will help you answering questions of the configuration script. You can change the name of the directories as you please, but keep the directory structure same, it will make your life much easier. You do not have to create any of these directories, they will be created for you by the Count-install program. Only thing you probably have to create are the individual datafiles (keep reading).


Base Directory is the directory where all the sub-drectories and the files releated to counter reside.

Log Directory is the directory which holds the counter Log file. Counter error messages or if someone tries to acces your counter remotely, warning message regarding this is written to this file.

conf directory holds the configuraion file for the counter. The configuration file holds information in 2 blocks. Each block resides between a left and right curly brace. The first block is called "ignore hosts" block. "ignore hosts" block defines the IP addresses of the hosts to ignore from counting. For example, if a user is running the web browser at the host and if is present at this block, the counter will be displayed but not incremented. You might want to put your own IP address here. The second block is authentication block. This block contains the hostnames, IP addresses, aliases for the hosts if any. All hosts present on this block will be able to access the counter locally or remotely, if others try to access, they will be denied. This file is created by the program Gen-conf and can be hand crafted later.

data directory holds all the datafiles for the counter. The datafiles stores the access counts of web pages. Each page must have a separate datafile. The datafile is specified at run-time. You will know about it later.

digits directory holds sub-drectories with various styles of GIF digits. For example, A sub-directory holds the green led digits. The sub-directories have GIF digit files named zero.gif, one.gif...nine.gif. you will know about it later.

rgb.txt file is used to convert a color name (for example, cyan) to the appropriate red, green and blue color component. This file came from X consortium and supplied with the distribution. You will know about the file later.

Digit Styles

The digits used in this program are individual GIF files. This gives flexibility of using digits of your choice. The digit images are named as zero.gif, one.gif,.... nine.gif. At run-time, simply the directory of the images is specified to use a different style. Therefore, a single program can generate digits of various styles. Here are the supplied digit styles.

Style A styleA designed by me (digits/A)
can be used for clock or date.
Style B styleB Borrowed from HTML-access counter. (digits/B)
Style C styleC designed by benjamin@pop3.oro.net (digits/C)
Style D styleD designed by me (digits/D)
can be used for clock or date.
Style E styleE designed by me (digits/E)
can be used for clock or date.

A suggested use of style E is to make the white color transparent (you will know about transparency later).

For a huge collection of GIF digits, check out the Digit Mania page.

This program will work with any digits from the Digit Mania page. To use those digits, create subdirectories say, F,G, H etc. inside the digits directory and rename the images to zero.gif, one.gif..nine.gif. To use those digits for clock or time, make sure you have or create am.gif, pm.gif, colon.gif and dash.gif.

How to call the program?

You can refer to the program from web page like this:

<img src="/cgi-bin/Count.cgi?df=sample.dat" align=absmiddle>

The string between ? and " is called the QUERY_STRING. Make sure there is no newlines in the <img src= line and no space in the QUERY_STRING. Here in, df=sample.dat, df means datafile and sample.dat is the counter datafile. The counter stores the hits in this file. This datafile is suppiled. Now, do you remember what was the answer to the question for the script Count-config:

* Allow automatic data file creation [y|n]?

If you answered yes, you can specify a datafile with df like df=count.dat. The file count.dat will be created for you if the permision to the data directory is correct.

If you answered no, you have to create this file in the data directory. cd to the data directory and type:

    echo 1 > count.dat

The counter program has lots of options, you can make it work and look the way you desire. In the query string, you can use the options described in the table below. The options can be separated by a | or a &. You can use either one or both. Here is an example:
<img src="/cgi-bin/Count.cgi?ft=T&frgb=gold|df=sample.dat" align=absmiddle>

The options can be in any order and not case sensitive.

Anyway, look at this Example Page you will get the picture.

Counter Options

Parameter Name Description Default
display=X Specifies what to display. A valid string can be specified with display= parameter to display counter, clock or date. The valid value for the string parameter X is counter,clock or date For counter, this parameter is not need as counter is the default display type.

Note: clock and date will only work with digit style A, D and E. If you want to use a different style of digits, you have to design the dash.gif, am.gif, pm.gif and colon.gif.

timezone=X Specifies timezone. The parameter timezone= is only significant with display=clock or display=date. Use this parameter if you want to display time or date of another timezone. For example, for eastern time with daylight saving time, timezone=EST5EDT, central time with daylight saving time, timezone=CST6CDT, mountain time with daylight saving time, timezone=MST7MDT, pacific time with daylight saving time, timezone=PST8PDT. for GMT, timezone=GMT. An offset from GMT can be used as well, timezone=GMT+6. Note, the GMT offset method may not work properly with SYSV type OS. Look at the manpage for ctime, localtime for your machine.

If the clock displays your local time wrong, you must specify your timezone with that parameter in order to display the correct time.

dformat=X Specifies date format. This parameter is only significant with display=date. The valid value for the string parameter X is any combination of MMDDYY (Month-Day-Year). For example, dformat=ddmmyy, dformat=YYMMDD. dformat=MMDDYY
ft=X Frame Thickness You can wrap the counter in an ornamental frame of X pixels thick. Use 0 for no frame. Values over 5 make a nice 3-D effect. ft=6
frgb=R;G;B Frame Color Specifies the color of the frame in RGB (red/green/blue) format. Each color component, R, G, and B is specified as a value between 0 and 255. If you use ft= without a frgb= param, the default color is used.

If you specify a frgb= without a ft=, then the frame thickness defaults to 5. All the examples show ft=5. The color can be specified as hex string or a name. Do not use a # before the hex string as Netscape. For example, if you want to specify white in hex, you do frgb=ffffff. Look at the color name mapping database for some hints.

frgb=100;139;216 or
tr=B Transparency On/Off You can specify if your counter image will have a transparent color with the Boolean B. So tr=Y means there will be a transparent color; and tr=N means there will not. It does not matter if the GIF files used for the digits are "transparent"; you must specify explicitly which color to make transparent. If you specify a trgb=, then you do not need to specify tr=Y. Valid values for B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. tr=N
No Transparency
md=X Max Digits Defines maximum number of digits to display. Any value between 5 and 10 inclusive are permitted. Padding with leading zeros is automatically done for you; longer counts are truncated to the given X. md=6
Without padding
pad=B Padding with 0's Turn padding on/off in conjunction with md= setting. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. pad=N
Without specification of a md=value

With specification of a md=value

dd=A Digit Directory Denotes directory of a specific styles of digits. Four styles of digits are suppiled. They are kept at the directories A,B,C and D respectively. Visit the digit mania page for other styles of digits. dd=A
My green led digits
st=X Start Count Used to set the initial value of the counter to some number X. This is only valid if you decided to allow automatic datafile creation. This is a bad practice to compile with this option, however it makes site maintaining easier. Note that this parameter has no effect if the datafile alreay exist. If you want to change the counter value in a existing datafile, hand edit the file. The minimum value for st is 1. st=1
Count starts at 1
sh=B Show digits Used to turn display of digits on or off according to the Boolean B. When sh=T, counter will be displayed and incremented, this is the default behavior.

If sh=F no digits will show, but the counter will still increment; instead of digits a transparent 1x1 GIF is displayed. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0

df=data_file Datafile to store count Specifies the name of the file for storing the count in. The file must be allocated to you as was mentioned in the "Authorizations" section above. You can use df=random to diaplay a random number.

One special use of the parameter is df=RANDOM. This returns a random number using the fractional portion of the host's time of day clock as a seed for the generator. Unlike all other WWWcounter parameters, the file name provided is case-sensitive, except for the value random. Or Random, or rANDOM, etc.

if no datafile is specified
incr=B Increment Count Makes it possible to display the current count without incrementing the count. This can be used to examine the count for reporting or other purposes without adding to the count. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0.

Increment the counter on each invocation
lit=X Display literal Makes it possible to display a given, predetermined value. Valid values for the string X are digits. None
negate=B Negate the color Makes it possible to negate the color of the counter digits. Note that the Frame is exempted from negating. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. negate=F
Do not negate
degrees=X Rotate X degrees Makes it possible to rotate the counter image X degree. The possible values of X is 90, 180, 270 and 360. Note 360 is meaningless as the counter will come back to the original 0 degree. degrees=270
With rotate=Y and without degrees=X
rotate 270 degreess clockwise
rotate=B Rotate On/Off The Boolean value B turns on or off rotating. If you use degrees= settting, rotate is not needed. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. rotate=F
Do not rotate

Error Messages

Count will try to return an image in any event. That is, even if it fails for some reason, it will write the error messages in GIF format. The text error messages also will be written to the counter log file defined with LogFile in the directory defined with LogDir in the config.h file. The program Count-conf asked about these if you remember.

If you see any of these images, please check the Counter log file you defined with LogDir and LogFile. If the program could not create the log file, it will write the error messages to stderr. In that case if you configured your httpd server to write the log to a file, the error messages will the written to this file.