Count Version 2.3


This is a CGI program to keep record of the raw hits of a web page. It generates a GIF image of the number of hits and returns to the browser as an in-lined image. The program also has a run-time option not to show the digit images, this way the hits can be kept without displaying it. The hits can be be monitored without incrementing from a separate page as well. Almost all of the features are run-time options. The hits are no way accurate. Someone can reload the page again and again to increase the hits. However, people like to see how many times someone visited their page. The same program can be used to count hits for any number of web pages for any number of users. The program can be used to display time or date as well. The time or date of any place in the word can be displayed by specifying a timezone string for that location. The date can be formatted in any combination of MMDDYY (Month-Day-Year).

The program is distributed as a gzip'd tar archive. If you do not have gzip/gunzip, it's available at:


  • Does not require server-side includes.
  • Uses image strip as well as individual digit images. Using an image strip reduces disk i/o significantly, therefore, it's faster. A program (mkstrip) is supplied to create an image strip from individual digit images.
  • Comma can be displayed after every 3rd digit from right.
  • Any one color of the image can be changed on the fly.
  • Uses netmasks to mask out a range of hosts in the network or the entire network.
  • Automatic datafile creation, strict mode, use of rgb color database can be controlled from the cfg file at run time.
  • Any arbitrary GIF file can be displayed. Frame and other attributes of the counter can be applied to the GIF file.
  • Count 2.0 is backward compatible with Count1.5's URL. One thing to note, the keyword wxh has no meaning in Count 2.0. It was used in Count 1.5 to specify digit dimensions. In Count 2.0 it is not required, because the digit dimensions are determined automatically. Therefore, you can use variable width digit images in this version.
  • Reasonable default for all QUERY_STRING parameters.
  • The same program can be used to display time or date.
  • The time and date of any timezone in the world can be displayed. The time can be displayed in 12 or in 24 hour format.
  • Supports digit images with variable width.
  • Counter can be displayed without incrementing (for monitoring etc.)
  • A literal digit string can be displayed.
  • A random digit string can be displayed.
  • The color of the digits can be negated.
  • The counter can be rotated (only integral of 90 degrees, 90,180,270). The default rotation is 270 degrees.
  • An ornamental 3D frame can be wrapped around the counter image with user defined thickness and color at run time.
  • The frame and transparent color can be a name (e.g. red,green,pink etc.). The color can be specified as a hex string, e.g. ffffff, ff0000 etc. as well as RGB triplets as before.
  • Single program for any number of users for any number of web pages.
  • Any color of the counter image can be made transparent at run time.
  • Style of digits can be specified at run time.
  • Authorized host names can be in the configuration file. Authorized hosts are those which can run the counter remotely. Do not confuse this with visitors from certain hosts.
  • IP filtering through a configuration file at run time. Any number of hosts can be ignored from counting. A netmask can be used to filter out a specific range of host in a network or to filter out the entire network. It's a good idea to ignore your own host or entire domain. Gen-conf program will let you create the configuration file interactively.
  • Data file locking. Data file will not get clobbered by simultaneous Count.cgi processes.
  • Maximum number of digits can be set or counter can be displayed with exact number of digits at run time.
  • User will be able to specify a start-up counter value at run time. This will take effect if the data file does not exist. You will be prompted by the configuration program if you want this feature or not.
  • If you do not want to display the counter but like to keep the hits on your page, sh=0 can be defined in the QUERY_STRING at run time. It will write a 1x1 transparent GIF image to the browser but the counter in the data file will be incremented all right.

Digit Styles

The digits used in this program can be individual GIF files or all the digits can be in a single image strip. This gives flexibility of using digits of your choice. In case of individual digit images, they are named as zero.gif, one.gif,.... nine.gif. In case of image strip, the strip is named as strip.gif. At run-time, simply the directory of the images is specified to use a different style. Therefore, a single program can display digits of various styles. Here are the supplied digit styles. I will not supply individual digit images anymore. All the styles of digits are supplied as a single image strip. Note the order of the digits (you will know about it later).

Style A styleA designed by the author
Style B styleB Borrowed from HTML-access counter. (digits/B/strip.gif)
Style C styleC designed by
Style D styleD designed by the author
Style E styleE desined by the author

A suggested use of style E is to make the white color transparent (you will know about transparency later).

For a huge collection of GIF digits, check out the Digit Mania page.

Some other sites:

This program will work with any digits from the Digit Mania page. To use those digits, create subdirectories say, F,G, H etc. inside the digits directory and rename the images to zero.gif, one.gif..nine.gif. I suggest create an image strip out of these digits and use it instead of using individual images. Please note: You will have to install your own version of Count.cgi into your custom cgi-bin directory.

Before using these digits, please read the sections How to use other styles of digits and How to create an image strip.


How to call the program?

You can refer to the program from web page like this:

<img src="/cgi-net/Count.cgi?df=Your_User_ID.Page_Name.dat" align=absmiddle>

The string between ? and " is called the QUERY_STRING. Make sure there is no newlines in the <img src= line and no space in the QUERY_STRING. Here in, df=sample.dat, df means datafile and sample.dat is the counter datafile. The counter stores the hits in this file. This datafile is supplied. If you configured the counter to allow automatic datafile creation (look at count.cfg file), you can specify a datafile with df like df=count.dat. The file count.dat will be created for you if the permission to the data directory is correct.

The counter program has lots of options, you can make it work and look the way you desire. In the query string, you can use the options described in the table below. The options can be separated by a | or a &. You can use either one or combination of both. Here is an example:

<img src="/cgi-net/Count.cgi?ft=T&frgb=gold|df=sample.dat" align=absmiddle>
The options can be in any order and not case sensitive. 

Counter options

[Originally written in HTML table by Kevin]

Parameter Name Description Default
display=X Specifies what to display. A valid string can be specified with display= parameter to display counter, clock or date. The valid value for the string parameter X is counter,clock or date For counter, this parameter is not need as counter is the default display type. display=counter
timezone=X Display time/date of the specified timezone. The parameter timezone= is only significant with display=clock or display=date. Use this parameter if you want to display time or date of another timezone. The timezone must be specified with a negative or positive four digit offset from GMT, for example: timezone=GMT-0500 or timezone=GMT+0000 or timezone=GMT+0530. The routine to display time of various timezones are written in a generic way. Therefore, the unix machines will not be aware of daylight saving time because of the way the routine is written. For example, if daylight saving time is on, to display time of NY, the timezone will be timezone=GMT-0500 instead of timezone=GMT-0400.

If the clock displays your local time wrong, specify your timezone with that parameter in order to display the correct time.


[new in this release]

Time format in 12 or 24 hour. This parameter can be used to display time in 12 or 24 hour format. The valid values for the parameter X is 12 or 24. tformat=12
dformat=X Specifies date format. This parameter is only significant with display=date. The valid value for the string parameter X is any combination of MMDDYY (Month-Day-Year). For example, dformat=ddmmyy, dformat=YYMMDD. dformat=MMDDYY

[new in this release]

Use of image strip On/Off The boolean value of istrip specifies whether to use image strip or not. If you specify istrip=F, the program will look for the individual digit image files in the digits/style directory. The valid values for the Boolean parameter istrip are Y, N, T, F, 1 or 0. istrip=T
ft=X Frame Thickness You can wrap the counter in an ornamental frame of X pixels thick. Use 0 for no frame. Values over 5 make a nice 3-D effect. ft=6
frgb=R;G;B Frame Color Specifies the color of the frame in RGB (red/green/blue) format. Each color component, R, G, and B is specified as a value between 0 and 256. If you use ft= without a frgb= param, the default color is used.

If you specify a frgb= without a ft=, then the frame thickness defaults to 5. All the examples show ft=5. The color can be specified as hex string or a name. Do not use a # before the hex string as Netscape. For example, if you want to specify white in hex, use frgb=ffffff. You also can use a color name (e.g. frgb=blue) if the counter configured to do so (look at the cfg file). Look at the color name mapping database for some hints about color name database.

frgb=100;139;216 or
tr=B Transparency On/Off You can specify if your counter image will have a transparent color with the Boolean B. So tr=Y means there will be a transparent color. It does not matter if the GIF files used for the digits are "transparent"; you must specify explicitly which color to make transparent. If you specify a trgb=, then you do not need to specify tr=Y. If you specify tr=Y and do not specify trgb=, then the default color black will be transparent. The valid values for B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. tr=F
No Transparency
md=X Max Digits Defines maximum number of digits to display. Any value between 5 and 10 inclusive are permitted. Padding with leading zeros is automatically done for you; longer counts are truncated to the given X. md=6
Without padding
pad=B Padding with 0's Turn padding on/off in conjunction with md= setting. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. pad=N
Without specification of a md=value

With specification of a md=value

dd=A Digit Directory Denotes directory of a specific styles of digits. Four styles of digits are supplied. They are kept at the directories A,B,C and D respectively. Visit the digit mania page for other styles of digits. dd=A
My green led digits

[new in this release]

Display this GIF file You can display any GIF image specified with this parameter. The location of this file is determined by the dd= parameter. All attributes of the counter applly to the image. None

[new in this release]

Display comma after every 3rd digit from right. The boolean value of parameter comma specifies whether to display comma after every 3rd digit from right. If you use this parameter as true, the left padding with zeros will be turned off. comma=F

[new in this release]

Change a color of the image to a target color on the fly. Any one color of the image can be changed to a different color on the fly. srgb stands for source color, that is the color to change. prgb stands for pen color, that is the target color. The values for srgb and prgb can be colon separated color components (e.g, srgb=255;0;0), a hex value (e.g. srgb=ff0000) or a color name (e.g. srgb=red). The color name can be used if you configured the counter to do so (look at the cfg file). srgb=00ff00
(0;255;0 green)

(0;255;255 cyan)

With chcolor=T

chcolor=B Change a color of the image. This parameter is usually used to change the default green color to cyan. That is if you specify chcolor=T, and you want to change green to cyan, then you do not need to specify srgb and prgb parameters. 1x1 GIF is displayed. The valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0 chcolor=F
st=X Start Count This parameter is used to set the initial value of the counter to some number X. This is only valid if you decided to allow automatic datafile creation. It is a bad practice to allow automatic datafile creation, however it makes site maintaining easier. The automatic datafile creation option is specified in configuration file and can be changed at run time. Note that this parameter has no effect if the datafile already exists. If you want to change the counter value in a existing datafile, hand edit the file. The minimum value for st is 1. st=1
Count starts at 1
sh=B Show digits Used to turn display of digits on or off according to the Boolean B. When sh=T, counter will be displayed and incremented, this is the default behavior.

If sh=F no digits will show, but the counter will still increment; instead of digits a transparent 1x1 GIF is displayed. The valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0

df=data_file Datafile to store count Specifies the name of the file for storing the count in. The file must be allocated to you as was mentioned in the "Authorizations" section above. You can use df=random to display a random number.

One special use of the parameter is df=RANDOM. This returns a random number using the fractional portion of the host's time of day clock as a seed for the generator. Unlike all other WWWcounter parameters, the file name provided is case-sensitive, except for the value random. Or Random, or rANDOM, etc.

if no datafile is specified
incr=B Increment Count Makes it possible to display the current count without incrementing the count. This can be used to examine the count for reporting or other purposes without adding to the count. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. incr=T
Increment the counter on each invocation
lit=X Display literal Makes it possible to display a given, predetermined string. The valid values for the string X are digits, a,p,: and - None
negate=B Negate the color Makes it possible to negate the color of the counter digits. Note that the Frame is exempted from negating. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. negate=F
Do not negate
degrees=X Rotate X degrees Makes it possible to rotate the counter image X degree. The possible values of X is 90, 180, 270 and 360. Note 360 is meaningless as the counter will come back to the original 0 degree. degrees=270
With rotate=Y and without degrees=X
rotate 270 degrees clockwise
rotate=B Rotate On/Off The Boolean value B turns on or off rotating. If you use degrees= setting, rotate is not needed. Valid values for the Boolean parameter B are Y, N, T, F, 1, or 0. rotate=F
Do not rotate

12. How to use other styles of digits

There are several sites including Digit Mania which maintains a array of collection of GIF digits which can be used with the counter. The counter program can use these digits in 2 ways.

  1. use a individual digit image for each digit, for example, zero.gif, one.gif...nine.gif. These digit images reside in the digits/style directory. If you like to use the counter for clock, 3 additional digit images are required, e.g., colon.gif, am.gif and pm.gif. If you want to use comma in your counter digits, another image is required, e.g., comma.gif. If you want to use the counter to display date, one more image is required, e.g., dash.gif. If you collect digits from external source, do not forget to rename the images to zero.gif, one.gif, two.gif, ... nine.gif, colon.gif, am.gif, pm.gif, comma.gif and dash.gif
  2. use a single image strip for digits. This is the default behavior, that is the counter program looks for a image file called strip.gif in digits/style directory by default. Using an image strip is much more efficient than using individual digits, because
    1. the size of an image strip is almost always less than the combined size of individual images.
    2. Disk i/o is significantly reduced, because only one file needs to be opened instead of many.

The section How to create an image strip describes how to create an image strip from individual digit images. If you like to use the individual digits instead, you must use the option istrip=F when you call the counter from web page, because by default istrip=T.

13. How to create an image strip

If you have individual digit images, you can create a image strip out of them. Image strip reduces disk i/o significantly, because the counter will need to read only one image instead of many and the size of the image will in most cases will be less than the combined size of the individual images. There is a program called mkstrip is supplied with the distribution for making image strip. To compile the program, go to the utils directory and at the shell promt, type:


Please note, this program requires the GIF image combining library. Therefore, compile it after compiling the counter.

If compilation succeeds, it will create the binary mkstrip. Now, go to the directory where all the individual digit images are and type:

mkstrip zero.gif one.gif two.gif .... nine.gif colon.gif am.gif pm.gif > strip.gif

Note, the file names are not important but the order is very important. For example, the file names may be 0x.gif, 1x.gif etc.

Create a directory say F inside the digits directory and copy or move the file strip.gif to F. You can use this strip with dd=F.

The above strip can be used for counter and clock but not date. It also can NOT be used if you want to display comma. If you want to use date and comma, you must have the image for comma and dash. For example, the strip of digit style A is created with the command:

mkstrip zero.gif one.gif ... nine.gif colon.gif am.gif pm.gif comma.gif \
    dash.gif > strip.gif

Please note the order of the images used in arguments carefully. The program mkstrip puts the necessary information in the GIF comment extension about the strip. The counter program parses the comment extension to determine the width of the individual digits in the strip. Therefore, the strip can have digit segments of variable width.

For example, the comment of the image strip of digit style A is:


The leftmost integer 15 indicates there are 15 individual digits in the image and the next colon separated pairs are the location of left and right side of the segment of the individual images from the leftmost edge. If you look carefully you will see that the individual segment of the strip is 15 pixel wide. The height is determined by reading the image. If you use the program mkstrip, you do not need to know anything about the comment, it will be created correctly for you. It is mentioned here because it is possible you obtained a strip from somewhere and you want to add the comment to the image.




Copyright 1995-1996 by Muhammad A Muquit. Permission to use, copy, modify and sell this program for any purpose is hereby granted without fee, provided that this copyright notice appear in all copies and that both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear in supporting documentation. If the program is included in a book, publication or in a software distribution media for sale, the author must be notified about it. No binary only distribution is allowed. All distributions must include the source and this copyright notice.


Note: This program is developed in my own time. My employer has nothing to do with it.


Muhammad A Muquit and
Kevin J. Walsh