Site Tools

Utilities for searching, navigation, and monitoring site activity

Site Tools include utilities for navigating, searching and keeping up with site activity.

In particular, you have two highly configurable, automated site monitoring tools, WebNotify, to e-mail alerts when topics are edited, and WebStatistics, to generate detailed activity reports.

WebNotify - recent changes alert

About the Web changes notification service

Each Foswiki web has an automatic e-mail notification service that sends you an e-mail with links to all of the topics modified since the last alert.

Users subscribe to email notifications using their WikiName or an alternative email address, and can specify the webs/topics they wish to track. Whole groups of users can also be subscribed for notification.

The general format of a subscription is:

three spaces * subscriber [ : topics ]

Where subscriber can be a WikiName, an email address, or a group name. If subscriber contains any characters that are not legal in an email address, then it must be enclosed in 'single' or "double" quotes. ALERT! Note: The guest user WikiGuest does not have an email address mapped to it, and will never receive email regardless of the configuration of that user.

topics is an optional space-separated list of topics:
  • ... without a Web. prefix
  • ...that exist in this web.
Users may further customize the specific content they will receive using the following controls:
  • Using wild-card character in topic names - You can use * in a topic name, where it is treated as a wildcard character. A * will match zero or more other characters - so, for example, Fred* will match all topic names starting with Fred, *Fred will match all topic names ending with Fred, and * will match all topic names.
  • Unsubscribing to specific topics - Each topic may optionally be preceded by a '+' or '-' sign. The '+' sign means "subscribe to this topic". The '-' sign means "unsubscribe" or "don't send notifications regarding this particular topic". This allows users to elect to filter out certain topics. Topic filters ('-') take precedence over topic includes ('+') i.e. if you unsubscribe from a topic it will cancel out any subscriptions to that topic.
  • Including child-topics in subscription - Each topic may optionally be followed by an integer in parentheses, indicating the depth of the tree of children below that topic. Changes in all these children will be detected and reported along with changes to the topic itself. Note This uses the Foswiki "Topic parent" feature.
  • Subscribing to entire topic ("news mode") - Each topic may optionally be immediately followed by an exclamation mark ! and/or a question mark ? with no intervening spaces, indicating that the topic (and children if there is a tree depth specifier as well) should be mailed out as complete topics instead of change summaries. ! causes the full topic to be mailed every time even if there have been no changes, and ? will mail the full topic only if there have been changes. One can limit the content of the subscribed topic to send out by inserting %STARTPUBLISH% and %STOPPUBLISH% markers within the topic.

Examples: Subscribe Daisy to all changes to topics in this web.
Subscribe Daisy to all changes to topics that start with Web.
   * : Web*
Subscribe Daisy to changes to topics starting with Petal, and their immediate children, WeedKillers and children to a depth of 3, and all topics that match start with Pretty and end with Flowers e.g. PrettyPinkFlowers.
   * DaisyCutter: Petal* (1) WeedKillers (3) Pretty*Flowers
Subscribe StarTrekFan to changes to all topics that start with Star except those that end in Wars, sInTheirEyes or shipTroopers.
   * StarTrekFan: Star* - *Wars - *sInTheirEyes - *shipTroopers
Subscribe Daisy to the full content of NewsLetter whenever it has changed.
   * NewsLetter?
Subscribe buttercup to NewsLetter and its immediate children, even if it hasn't changed.
   * NewsLetter! (1)
Subscribe GardenGroup (which includes Petunia) to all changed topics under AllNewsLetters to a depth of 3. Then unsubscribe Petunia from the ManureNewsLetter, which she would normally get as a member of GardenGroup:
   * GardenGroup: AllNewsLetters? (3)
   * - ManureNewsLetter
Subscribe IT:admins (a non-Foswiki group defined by an alternate user mapping) to all changes to Web* topics.
   * 'IT:admins' : Web*

A user may be listed many times in the WebNotify topic. Where a user has several lines in WebNotify that all match the same topic, they will only be notified about changes in that topic once (though they will still receive individual mails for news topics).

If a group is listed for notification, the group will be recursively expanded to the email addresses of all members.

ALERT! Warning: Because an email address is not linked to a user name, there is no way for Foswiki to check access controls for subscribers identified by email addresses. A subscriber identified by an email address alone will only be sent change notifications if the topic they are subscribed to is readable by guest users. You can limit which email addresses can be used in WebNotify, or even block use of emails altogther, using the {MailerContrib}{EmailFilterIn} setting in configure.

TIP Tip: List names in alphabetical order to make it easier to find the names.

Note for System Administrators: Notification is supported by an add-on to the Foswiki kernel called the MailerContrib. See the MailerContrib topic for details of how to set up this service.

Note: If you prefer a news feed, point your reader to WebRss (for RSS 1.0 feeds) or WebAtom (for ATOM 1.0 feeds). Learn more at WebRssBase and WebAtomBase, respectively.

Related topics: Main.WikiUsers, UserRegistration

WebSearch - search the site

WebSearch is a flexible search facility, part of the core feature set. WebSearchAdvanced offers more options, including:
  • topic title or full-text search
  • regular expressions
  • query search over form data
  • search within web or site-wide
  • index-style A-Z alphabetical listing sorted topic title
  • many more

See also: SearchHelp for help; Macros and FormattedSearch for including hard-coded searches in text.

WebChanges - what's new

To check for the most recently edited topics while on-site, use the WebChanges link, usually located in the toolbar. It lists the most recently modified topics, newest first, along with the first couple of lines of the page content.

This is simply a preset SEARCH. The number of topics listed by the limit parameter.:
%SEARCH{ "1" web="%BASEWEB%" type="query" nosearch="on"
  order="modified" reverse="on" limit="50"

WebRss and WebAtom - news feeds on recent changes

You can point your news reader at WebRss and WebAtom to find out what is new in a web. WebRssBase and WebAtomBase have the details. Like WebChanges, this is based on a %SEARCH{}%.

WebIndex - list of topics

WebIndex lists all web topics in alphabetical order, with the first couple of lines of text. This is simply a preset SEARCH:
%SEARCH{"1" scope="topic" type="query" nosearch="on" }%

WebStatistics - site statistics

See SiteToolStatistics for detailed configuration and customization information.


Statistics of visits to pages in a web can be generated manually or automatically, on a per-web basis. Statistics are compiled as a running total for each month.They include totals for Topic Views, Topic Saves, Attachment Uploads, Most Popular Topics with number of views, and Top Contributors showing total of saves and attachment uploads. Statistics from previous months are saved, and a new row is written to the table at the beginning of each month.

  • You can create a WebStatistics link using %STATISTICSTOPIC%

Statistics are compiled by a script that processes the Foswiki event log. The script can be run two ways:
  • Manually, by an authorized user from a browser URL
  • Automatically by a shell script, usually run as a cron job

Manually running statistics

The following form can be used to run statistics and create the WebStatistics topics for selected or all webs.

Note: The current user - WikiGuest must have access rights to read/write the WebStatistics topics, and if missing, must have authority to create the WebStatistics in the selected webs.

Run statistics on a list of one or more webs

Enter a comma separated list of webnames. Enter a subweb by specifying ParentWeb/SubWeb/ Web names must follow web naming rules and start with an upper case letter.

Additional Settings

Autocreate missing WebStatistics

Select this option if you want the Statistics script to auto-create the WebStatistics if it is missing. (Note: this operation must be enabled in the configuration).

Process sub-webs

Process any subwebs of the requested webs. If this is not selected, then sub-webs must be explicitly listed in the list of webs.

Specify date to process

Specify the date of the logs to process in YYYYMM format. Example: 201203 to request March 2012.

Log Files

Foswiki generates an event log which is used by the statistics script
  • The directory for the log file is defined by the {Log}{Dir} setting in configure Logging and Statistics tab.
  • The file name is events.log Old events are archived as events.<year><month>
  • Example path name: working/logs/events.log
  • Each access gets logged as:
    | <time> | <wikiusername> | <action> | <web>.<topic> | <extra info> | <IP address> |
  • Example log entry:
    | 15 Jul 2024 - 09:45 | WikiGuest | view | WebRss | | |
  • By default the following actions are logged:
    Script Action name Extra info
    attach attach when viewing attach screen of previous uploaded attachment: filename
    changes changes  
    edit edit when editing non-existing topic: (not exist)
    login login Authentication failure or success
    manage rename when moving topic: moved to Newweb.NewTopic
    manage move when moving attachment: Attachment filename moved to Newweb.NewTopic
    manage renameweb when renaming a web: oldweb moved to newweb
    rdiff rdiff higher and lower revision numbers: 4 3
    register regstart WikiUserName, e-Mail address, UserName: user attempts to register
    register register E-mail address: user successfully registers
    register bulkregister WikiUserName of new, e-mail address, admin ID
    save save when replacing existing revision: repRev 3
    when user checks the minor changes box: dontNotify
    when user changes attributes to an exising attachment: filename.ext
    save cmd special admin parameter used when saving
    search search search string
    upload upload filename
    view view when viewing non-existing topic: (not exist)
    when viewing previous topic revision: r3
    n/a logout When authentication information is cleared
  • You can disable the logging (and therefore the reporting) of individual actions using the {Log}{Action} EXPERT setting in configure.


See also System.InstallationGuidePart2#EmailConfig

Configuring outgoing mail

Outgoing mail is required for UserRegistration and for recent changes alert.

The preferred place to configure e-mail is in the configure Mail tab tool (LocalSite.cfg). The configure tool fully documents these setting.

The notify e-mail uses the default changes.tmpl template, or a skin if activated by a preference setting.

mailnotify also relies on a hidden file in each data/Web directory: .changes and a file with the Web name (one per web) in the working/work_areas/MailerContrib/ directory. Make sure both are writable by your web server process. .changes contains a list of changes; The file in the working/work_areas/MailerContrib/ directorycontains a timestamp of the last time notification was done for the web.Both files are automatically created as needed.

Legacy and current configuration

ALERT! Caution: Older versions of Foswiki, and especially TWiki migrations might configure e-mail in the preference settings topic.Make sure you delete that setting if you are using a SitePreferences topic from a previous release of Foswiki. These settings are no longer used and have been removed.

Parameter configure
preference settings
Default Description
Global enable {EnableEmail} n/a enabled Globally enable/disable email support.
Extermal mail program {MailProgram} n/a '/usr/sbin/sendmail -t -oi -oeq' E-mail program used when Net:SMTP is unavailable
Mail relay host {SMTP}{MAILHOST} SMTPMAILHOST not set Destination SMTP Server used to receive and relay email. Net::SMTP is disabled if this is not set.
Mail sending hostname {SMTP}{SENDERHOST} SMTPSENDERHOST not set Hostname used to identify sender. Some SMTP configurations will require this.
SMTP Password {SMTP}{Password} not supported not set

Setting the automatic e-mail schedule

For Unix platforms: Edit the cron table so that mailnotify is called in an interval of your choice. Please consult man crontab for how to modify the table that schedules program execution at certain intervals. Example:
% crontab -e
0 1 * * * (cd /path/to/bin; ./mailnotify -q)

The above line will run mailnotify nightly at 01:00. The -q switch suppresses all normal output.

For ISP installations: Many ISPs don't allow hosted accounts direct cron access, as it's often used for things that can heavily load the server. Workaround scripts are available.

On Windows: You can use a scheduled task if you have administrative privileges.

Site Permissions

  • AccessControl describes how to restrict read and write access to topics and webs, by users and groups
  • SitePermissions lists the permissions settings of the webs on this site

Help with crontab

The crontab command is used to schedule commands to be executed periodically.

Related Topics: AdminDocumentationCategory, AdminToolsCategory
Topic revision: r1 - 17 Jun 2022, ProjectContributor
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