Tutorial :Determining an 'active' user count of an ASP.NET site



Question:

On an ASP.NET site, what are some techniques that could be used to track how many users are logged in to the site at any given point in time?

So for example, I could produce a report showing something like this:

        10:00am  11:00am  12:00pm  1:00pm  2:00pm ....   3/25      25      32       45      40      37   3/26      31      38       50      57      40   3/27      28      37       46      35      20   etc.   

EDIT: No, we're not using ASP.NET Membership provider, it uses a home-grown/hacky session based method of determining whether or not a user is in 'logged in' status.


Solution:1

Does the website log the user in? If it does, then you can update a "Last Visit" field in the user table every time they request a new page, and then every hour, just do a SQL query that grabs everybody who has a "Last Visit" timestamp within the last 15 minutes or so (assumed to currently be on the site).

If you're not having people log in, you could just as easily do it by IP address instead of username. With this method, though, you may run into some proxy issues (ie multiple users from the same corporate network may all come from a single IP address, so they only count as one user in your totals), but that should be minimal.


Solution:2

This sort of depends on your site. If your using the ASP.Net Membership Providers there is a method: Membership.GetNumberOfUsersOnline() which can tell you how many logged in users there are. I believe there are also performance counters. The notion of a logged in user is a user who did something within the last x minutes where x is configurable.

You could also use performance counters to track incoming requests if you want to get a sense of how much activity there is.

Edit

Just so you know the SQL ASP Membership providers implements this by recording an activity date on a field in the DB. It when just queries it for all activity within x minutes.

I added a client side polling function which hits our server every 2 minutes, so while a user is sitting on the page I know they are there even if there is no activity. This also let me force the user out of the system, provides a method deliver other system messages. Kind of nice.


Solution:3

If using SQL Server for Session storage (i.e. <sessionState> mode is "SQLServer" in web.config), you can't use a solution that relies on Session_End in global.asax, as the method will never be called.

However, assuming that SQL Agent is running the DeleteExpiredSessions job correctly (which it should be by default when SQL State was installed), you can just run the following SQL against the Session Db:

SELECT COUNT(SessionId) FROM ASPStateTempSessions  


Solution:4

I think what I've used in the past was the Global.asax functions mainly centering around the Session_Start and Session_End, increasing a count with the Start, and then the end is a bit tricky because of the session timeout. If you are not concerned a lot with how exactly accurate the count is then you can stop here.

If not then you'd probably use a combination of the javascript onUnload event with some sort of ajax request to invalidate the session and subtract the user. The event would have to see if the user was actually leaving the page or just going to another page on the site.

Anyway, start there. I remember having to do with ASP sites so there is definately some information out there on this method.


Solution:5

There are performance monitor stats for Sessions Active within the ASP.NET performance objects, and you can track all instances, or individual apps. You can access these stats through Admin Tools â†' Performance, or programmatically via WMI.

A very basic PowerShell script to get such a total of such counters:

(Get-WmiObject Win32_PerfRawData_ASPNET_ASPNETApplications SessionsActive).SessionsActive  

A filter should be able to get the stat for a specific site.


Solution:6

First set Session timeout for 1 minute.

Create a simple heartbeat.aspx page with no HTML content just the following javascript code:

<html>    <head>    <script language="javascript">    function reloadPage()    {      window.navigate("heartbeat.aspx");    }    </script>    </head>  <body onload="window. setTimeout(‘reloadPage()’, 30000)">  </body>  </html>  

This will re-request itself every 30 seconds and keep session alive.

Put heatbeat.aspx page in a hidden frame.

To get user count just get session count by using static counter in Session_Start and Session_End events in Global.asax.


Solution:7

If you are using InProc session state, you can do it like this in global.asax

Sub Application_Start(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)      Application("ActiveSessionCount") = 0  End Sub    Sub Session_Start(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)      Application("ActiveSessionCount") += 1  End Sub    Sub Session_End(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)      Application("ActiveSessionCount") -= 1  End Sub  

To access the value on a web form is just as simple

Dim Count as Integer = Application("ActiveSessionCount")  


Solution:8

public class ActiveUsers  {      private static List<LastUserActivity> users;      private static object syncroot = new object();      private static DateTime lastPruned;        public static int SessionLength = 20;        static ActiveUsers()      {          users = new List<LastUserActivity>();          lastPruned = DateTime.UtcNow;      }        public void RecordUserActivity(int userId)      {          lock (syncroot)          {              var user = users.FirstOrDefault(x => x.UserId == userId);              if (user == null)              {                  user = new LastUserActivity() { UserId = userId };                  users.Add(user);              }              user.UtcTime = DateTime.UtcNow;                if (lastPruned.AddMinutes(5) < DateTime.UtcNow)              {                  Prune();                  lastPruned = DateTime.UtcNow;              }          }      }        private static void Prune()      {          users.RemoveAll(x => x.UtcTime.AddMinutes(SessionLength) < DateTime.UtcNow);      }        public int GetActiveUsers()      {          lock (syncroot)          {              return users.Count;          }      }  }  public class LastUserActivity  {      public int UserId { get; set; }      public DateTime UtcTime { get; set; }  }  

Add a call to ActiveUsers into a method in global.asax (eg. BeginRequest, AcquireRequestState).


Solution:9

On Global.asax

protected void Application_Start(object sender, EventArgs e)          {              Application["SessionCount"] = 0;          }            protected void Session_Start(object sender, EventArgs e)          {              Application.Lock();              Application["SessionCount"] = Convert.ToInt32(Application["SessionCount"]) + 1;              Application.UnLock();          }            protected void Session_End(object sender, EventArgs e)          {              Application.Lock();              Application["SessionCount"] = Convert.ToInt32(Application["SessionCount"]) - 1;              Application.UnLock();          }  

Get Application["SessionCount"] on the page you want


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