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(Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, IL, 6180161820, USA) Jibohe2@uiuc.edu ABSTRACT Despite of the increasing interest in web-based studies, researchers lack a convenient tool for data collection. The existing tools have constraints in the data they could collect or in the availabilities to the study environment. SurfLogger, described in this paper, is an automated data logging tool, free, open-source, cross-platform, and easy to modify. SurfLogger is expected to meet the increasing needs of web-based studies. Keywords SurfLogger, browser, instrumentation, Web, WWW, Python INTRUDCTION In this information age, the World Wide Web (WWW) is the most fast developing information resources (Eighmey, & McCord, 1998). The booming and infinite opportunities accompanying WWW win interests from vast of communities, including web site designers, user interface researcher, cognitive psychologists, E-commence businessman, as well as many others who are interested in characterizing how users interact with web browser and gain information from varied designs of web pages (Eighmey, & McCord, 1998; Wang, Jing, He &Yang, 2007; Reeder, Pirolli, & Card, 2000). Despite of the wide interest in web-based researches, there are still no full-fledged and easily accessible tools to collect user log and browser interactive data. Current data collection methods are far from convenient. Some studies collected data from servers or proxies, which is not only bothersome and expensive to configure the servers or proxies, but also cannot capture users’ interaction with the browser and users experience (Pitkow, 1998). Another substitutive solution is to use videotaped data, usually providing more comprehensive users information (Byrne, John, Wehrle, & Crow, 1999). But coding videotaped data is too consuming in time and labor, and accuracies of coding cannot be guaranteed as perfect. Reeder, Pirolli and Card (2000) did a wonderful job to create
and the GUI (Graphical User Interface) is created with wxPython.WebLogger for data collection in web-based studies. which collects users’ interaction data with both the web and the browser. and only one line of the code has to change to refer to the path of the external software. such as Internet Explorer. which is a Python bundle of wxWidget. because it is also written in python and shares the same spirit of open source. SurfLogger produces two files. SurfLogger also captures the images of each screen when the web page refreshes. The time record could be used to compute the time of completion for each task.txt.0. and crossplatform (can be used in Windows.0 (IE) (Reeder.txt in case study section of this paper. Currently. SURFLOGGER Description SurfLogger is written in Python. and easy to modify. If quality of recording is emphasized. . I used Michael Urman’s Screen Recorder named cankiri as my external software for recording. SurfLogger could easily switch to call other recording software. Advantages and Disadvantages Created with scripting language of Python. Forward. Sadly. 2000. Logfile. SurfLogger inherits many advantages of Python. clicking on the Back. WebLogger cannot be used after IE updating to the latest version of IE 7. and mouse coordination when clicking. WebLogger was written in Visual Basics and depends on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6. and neither in Linux and Mac Operating System. free. Urlfile. SurfLogger does not depend on other software. SurfLogger is an automated data logging tool.txt and urlfile. I will give an example about how to extract information from urlfile. Mac and many other operating systems). Marking the mouse coordination on the screen captures could tell us what links the users clicked at.txt and urlfile. logfile. 2001). The number of button press on the browsers could be used as a measure of effort in carrying out the task.txt. the researchers could know more about users’ actions. used to track the record to the responding actions). open-source. SurfLogger can record a variety of user actions with the web pages and the browsers. etc. I have developed SurfLogger. To meet the needs for such a tool in web-based research. Home. Linux. a scripting language. buttons). With video record. URL record is stored in a separate file because the abundant information it can provides. SurfLogger also calls external software to record the whole process of user actions. interaction with the browsers (such as. Action IDs are used to synchronize the record in logfile. Pirolli &Card. the time for each actions.txt stores action IDs (natural numbers assigned to each action.txt stores action IDs and URLs (Uniform Resource Locator).
ID: 3 TIME: 04 Apr 2008 11:50:04 Mouse Coordination: 125 52 Browser Action: Back Figure 1. followed by variable value.txt Case study To demonstrate how SurfLogger could benefit web-based research.txt. which functioned similarly like SurfLogger. each set of record contains action ID and URL.SurfLogger also has some limitations. we developed the predecessor of SurfLogger. and can be run directly without installation of SurfLogger as well. IGroup is an image search engine. The converted executable version of SurfLogger does not need installation of Python in the operating system. This could be solved by bundling up all required Python libraries and SurfLogger codes into executable program with many free tools for Python. Jing. and number of links and cluster names clicked by the .txt (see Figure 1). Records in logfile.org/user/testMaterial/article/2624476 Figure 2. The variable name is self-explanatory.txt and urlfile. presenting the results in semantic clusters.txt ID： 3 URL：http://www. SurfLogger needs Python interpreter and several libraries of Python.citeulike. browser action (clicking on Back. time for the action. such as. We developed a measure of Search Effort to compare IGroup and MSN objectively. In the urlfile. Records in urlfile. and action ID. To test whether IGroup can increase search efficiency compared to MSN. the logfile. Adjacent record sets are separated by a blank line. Search Effort was defined as the number of query input. 2007).txt (see Figure 2). The format of log file is designed to be human-readable and easily read for analysis software. a record set for one action includes the mouse coordination. Because Python is slower than C language [citation]. Forward Home or other button on the browser). In the logfile. He. Log File Format The records are stored in two files. py2exe or pyinstaller. & Yang. which may be complicated for Windows users without programming skills. I will briefly explain the usability analysis of IGroup as a case study (Wang. which begins with variable name. SurfLogger usually takes a couple of seconds to startup. but less flexible. Every variable takes up one line.
Jing. SurfLogger can free many researchers from the financial and time cost in data collecting.aspx?q=Disney#g. ID of cluster name. cross-platform. and no dependence on other browsers. August 30. However. But these tools are usually not full-fledged. But both WebLogger and WebTracker can be used only in Windows platform. and result page. researchers also used some compensatory recording methods. Detlor and Turnbull (1999) also developed a similar tool named WebTracker. it can not offer researchers the flexibilities in data collecting and analysis. user actions on the interface elements of IE. and relied on the explorer software of IE or Netscape’s Navigator. and not available to the common researchers (Wang. Catledge and Pitkow (1995) studies user interface by capturing client-side browsing event with NCSA’s XMosaic. Pirolli and Card (2000) developed a great tool called WebLogger. including user input from keyboard and mouse.1.14. SurfLogger is expected to contribute more to the increasing interest in web-based researches. The information could be extracted from the URL by simple text processing. URL extraction and source code of SurfLogger please refer to my project page of SurfLogger. 2007). mouse clicks. links and cluster names clicked were extracted from URLs recorded by our automated logging tool. these methods are not only time-consuming. web page actions. and “1” were the input query. Besides the above mentioned automated logging tools. With its great features of automated data logging. user comments and coding etc. open-source. Byrne and his colleague (1999) used videotape recording to study web-browsing behaviors. For code of data reduction. “14”. He. but also provided limited data about users’ behaviors. After the explorers upgraded.-1 The characters in bold. &Yang. free. RELATED WORK Although a large number of researchers are interested in web-based study.users. CONCLUSION SurfLogger is a useful tool for collecting data for web-based researches. and URLs. The LogSquare. IT companies also wrote some tools for their usability test. Reeder. can record keyboard entries. However. there are not many well-developed tools. “Disney”. Choo. the codes of WebLogger and WebTracker have to update too. sold by ManGold Inc. 2006 3:06:54 PM http://msra-vss50-b/igroup2/search. despite the price of LogSquare. Query input. in order to function normally. which can collect extensive data. A sample URL recorded in this study was listed as follows: Wednesday.. .
Wang. C. Santa Barbara. 544-551. 19-20. L. Pitkow. Brisbane.. WA.utoronto. F. Byrne. & Crow.. L. Yao. WebLogger: A data collection tool for web-use studies.html. Technical report number UIR-R-2000-06 online at http://www. P. (1999). R. Adding value in the information age: Uses and gratifications of sites on the World Wide Web.16. Wang. . Deng.htm. N. Australia.au/programme/fullpapers/1877/com1877.. ACM Press. D..cn/ Jing.D. B. Python. & Card. Y. http://igroup. Also available at http://www7. John. D. J. Reeder.S. In Proceedings of the Seventh International WWW Conference. W. Available at http://choo. L.wxpython.. the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Reeder. K. http://www..org/ wxPython. P. M. http://www.0. F.edu. (1999). Extended Abstracts of CHI 2001. He. K. S. HICSS’33 (Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science). Seattle. International Multimedia Conference: Proceedings of the 14th annual ACM international conference on Multimedia.html.de/LogSquare..mangold. http://www. S. The web: An Empirical Model of Web Use. B.. & McCord.python. Summary of WWW Characterizations. Jing. (2001). WebEyeMapper and WebLogger: tools for analyzing eye tracking data collected in Web-use studies. .REFERENCES Eighmey.587-596. Pirolli. J.parc.org/ Cankiri. In Proceedings SIG CHI’2007. 497 – 498. C.C.. http://www. 41(3):187-194. NY: ACM Press.net/mu/wiki/Cankiri Igroup: .W... (2007).. R. & Turnbull. Pittsburgh PA. The Tangled Web We Wove: A Taskonomy of WWW Use. Pirolli... Wehrle.scu.E. J.Y.. IGroup: Presenting Web Image Search Results in Semantic Clusters... & Yang. W.. San Jose. ACM Press.. (2006). J. (1998).msra.fis. (2000). (1998). Choo.ca/FIS/ResPub/HICSS/ LogSquare. In Proceedings of CHI '99 . & Ma. Zhang. W. & Card. CA:ACM Press.xerox. Journal of Business Research. CA. Detlor. S.E. IGroup: A web image search engine with semantic clustering of search results.com/istl/projects/uir/pubs/default.tortall.
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