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Submitting a form; tracking its path

Posted on 2012-03-12
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Last Modified: 2012-03-13
If I submit a form online, is it possible to track where the data is going? I know that I can see the "POST" and form actions fields, but it doesn't seem to be true for all forms; in that having that value doesn't necessarily mean that is the final destination.

I'm specifically interested in forms that submit to an e-mail address.

Does cURL or Perl have something available for tracking or "watching" the process?

I tried Fiddler, but it did not provide any conclusive data.
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:ahoffmann
ID: 37713980
from which side do you want to track: server or client?
on client you can use fiddler, or LiveHTTPheader in FF, or any proxy local on your client
if you're interested in blocking tracking requests, I suggest using privoxy
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 37715998
Other than forms submitted by javascript, the 'action' page is where the data goes.  You can't track it after that because it's on the server and that's not something you can see from outside.  And the only way forms submit directly to an email address is with a 'mailto' action link.  Every other method has to be processed on the server.
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Author Comment

by:Bobo--just_East_of_Madison
ID: 37716677
@DaveBaldwin

And I would need to view the server logs to view the action on the server side, or is there another way? (I have access to server logs and such.)

I want to review submissions for the past six months, but server logs for that time period are extremely difficult to navigate and search for considering the amount of traffic I receive.
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Assisted Solution

by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 250 total points
ID: 37717227
Well, I'm slightly confused.  If it were my site, I'd know where the data goes because I would have written the code that puts it there.  What is your situation?  Is it your site you want to check or other people's sites that you are hosting?  Maybe more to the point, what is your goal for this?

By the way, the server logs only tell you about connections, not what is done with the data.  If forms are processed on the server by code that sends out email, you would have to correlate the email server logs with the web server logs and that would get ridiculous.
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Accepted Solution

by:
ahoffmann earned 250 total points
ID: 37717250
on server there're your web server logs and the mail server logs
first you need to check your web server logs in extract the corresponding request to your form
if the form uses GET method, you most likely get all information in that grepped request, if it is a POST request it depends on your web server configuration if you see the email addresses in the POST-data
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