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From Justin Pasher <>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] How to Find Online Users?
Date Wed, 17 Sep 2008 17:53:27 GMT
amiribarksdale wrote:
> What is the "standard" way to determine whether a user is indeed logged in to
> a site and online right then? I have a web app where users log in and get a
> cookie. Part of it is the sessin cookie which expires at the close of the
> session, and part of it is a longer lasting authentication cookie. Am I
> supposed to use the session cookie for this? Does it have to be stored in
> the db so it can be timestamped?
> Amiri

Since HTTP is a stateless protocol, it requires a little creativity to 
track "online" users. One way is to have a table in a database that 
keeps track of a person based upon their username/IP address and the 
last time they loaded a page. For example

* Client visits a page
* Add/Update a row in the table with the client's username/IP address 
and set the timestamp to the current time
* To retrieve a list of "online" users, pull all rows in the database 
with a timestamp within the last X minutes (for example, 10 minutes).

You could then periodically delete any rows from the table that are 
older than X minutes or hours. This would help keep the size down. The 
username for a client would be based upon a cookie or session 
information stored within your page.

Justin Pasher

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