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Yvan Bourquin
University of Geneva, Switzerland
Project Description:
A customer browsing a company website leaves traces in the form of log files generated by the server. When analyzed, those files reveal significant information about the customer's on-line activity. PathFinder is a system that analyses web server log files. It displays the website structure and the customers navigation paths in a 3d visualization.

PathFinder aims at helping website designers and administrators to discover the standard navigation paths of the website and to use this information to improve the site content and ergonomics. It is built in order to answer 3 fundamental questions: What paths are used to reach a specific page? What paths are typical of a specific time/date? What pages are often/rarely accessed?

As a prototype, PathFinder explores an alternative way of communicating web usage information. PathFinder represents the website structure in the form of a 3d cone tree. The idea of the cone tree is to display each node at the top of a 3d cone and to arrange the nodes hierarchically lower around the cone's circular base.

The project was programmed in Java. It can be decomposed in three main parts. The first part is a web crawler (sometimes also called spider or robot) that is used to grab the structure of the web sites. The second part is responsible for the analysis of the log files. The third part, realized with Java3D, controls the 3d visualization.

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