Web Transaction Monitor: advanced Internet monitor for Web sites

Internet monitor to check website

Growing variety of Web-based resources (resources available via HTTP/HTTPS protocols) makes monitoring such resources, from simple Web pages to complex Web applications, quite a challenge. HTTP(S) monitor can be used to check website (including possibility to check for presence or absence of certain content); however, the majority of Web-based resources require more powerful tool. Typical use cases:

1. Web-service requiring authentication. Anything from Web-based email client to complex Web applications (groupware sites, task management services, e-shops and so on). You may wish to visit a shop, browse certain categories of goods and check for presence of certain item.

2. AJAX-powered sites. In this case it’s harder to check for website down state. Dynamic page updates and real-time interaction with Web resources are de facto a standard nowadays. Loading and checking Web page structure is insufficient, user input may trigger dynamic updates and alter the results.

3. Sites requiring user input or navigation (such as sending forms) and browsing (clicking) links. That includes search engines interaction, checking for site integrity (checking for certain links presence on sequence of pages).

Simple HTTP(S) monitor can’t handle the above use cases efficiently. This is when Web Transaction Monitor can offer proper monitoring tools.

Web Transaction Monitor: website monitoring tool overview

Web Transaction Monitor allows to check Web-based resources for performance and availability, adding capability to emulate Web application user real-life behavior. When creating Web Transaction Monitor, you load a start URL and then behave exactly as if you were working with the site for real: the pages and your actions are visible in special browser Window, making website monitoring setup as simple as simple clicking and entering (if necessary) some text into forms fields.

Note that you can add, on every step (page loaded) checks for presence of certain content (string of text), thus allowing you to make several checks in a row, on several pages. When monitor is polled, all the steps you recorded when creating it, and all the checks performed should pass within time limit you can define, thus combining multiple tests into a single easy to understand monitor to check website availability and behavior.

Target site can utilize any server-side technology in existence (PHP, Java, ASP, Python, Perl, JavaScript and so on), may use asynchronous interaction (AJAX technology), for Web Transaction Monitors that makes no difference: it can monitor any type of document available through HTTP(S).

Note that you do not have to be an expert in the above technologies to monitor Web applications. You are creating Web Transaction Monitor from user’s viewpoint — all you need is to use browser to perform required actions and/or enter required data. It allows deeper understanding on website down state whereabouts.

There are several Web Transaction Monitor features that can be used to adapt it to certain cases. Although it’s safe to use defaults, you might need to change certain settings for better results.

Qt WebKit and native browser engines

Although native (the same Internet Explorer uses) browser engine is used by default, you can edit Web Transaction Monitor and choose different engine (Qt Webkit). This is browser engine used by such well-known browsers as Safari, Opera and Google Chrome.

That alternate browser engine might be of use if given website monitoring works better with Webkit-based browsers. Also, certain site components and technologies (such as AJAX) can work somewhat differently in Webkit. It’s up to you to check which engine works properly in your case.

Important: if you change browser engine, you will need to re-record all the Web Transaction Monitor steps.

Content and access website monitoring settings

Web Transaction Monitor allows you to select which of browser-specific behavior you wish to implement. That relates to ignoring images and/or JavaScript on pages, ability to accept or not site-provided cookies, and whether to ignore the absence of some Web page content (that is, stay in OK state if some page elements failed to load, or enter Down state).

You can also set up proxy to use to access Web from the monitor. HTTP and Socks 5 proxies can be used, with or without authentication. That can help to access restricted areas, where proxy-only entrance is allowed.

Finally, when accessing pages over HTTPS, you can choose to ignore SSL certificate problems. While generally it is not advised (incorrect SSL certificate may mean site is insecure to access), in certain situations it can be useful: for example, in many intranets self-signed SSL certificates are used, which otherwise won’t pass validation.

Adjusting website performance monitoring manually

In certain situations, you might need to alter one or more recorded steps to achieve required results. For example, page might accept parameters that can’t be efficiently recorded when recording the step in usual way. Also, slight changes in processing pages (such as password change required at certain stages) might be edited without total re-recording of monitoring sequence.

The above can also be used to monitor Web-based API calls, which lack possibility to get reached by usual Web browsing. The above might be useful to monitor services which provide API access. For example, you can check whether there are unread comments in your WordPress blog.

Web Transaction Monitor packs

Web Transaction Monitor provides flexible and powerful monitoring tools that can facilitate Web applications monitoring requiring either multi-step access, or requiring user input.

All the IPHost Network Monitor commercial licenses provide a single Web Transaction Monitor; you can order additional ones at any moment, should you need to perform multiple resources; this one-time upgrade will empower your license with additional Web Transaction Monitors for all its future usage.

Description of other features:

Monitoring Features Here you can find the list of monitor types supported in IPHost Network Monitor and brief description of their parameters.
Network Discovery Helps you to create a basis of your monitoring configuration and automates the task of detection network hosts and network services.
Alerting Features Here you can find the list of alert types (ways of reaction to the problems happened during monitoring) available in IPHost Network Monitor, and their brief description.
Reporting Features Here you can find the list of report types available in IPHost Network Monitor with brief descriptions.
IPHost Network Monitor interfaces
and structure
Here you can find an overview of IPHost Network Monitor components, Windows and web interfaces.

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