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we have seen recently that the "Online customers" report is always empty + also the column customer_id in table report_viewed_product_index is always NULL

I know because on our DEV server the column customer_id is always a number (never NULL) ....

What setting in Magento can influence this behavior? Has anyone seen this before?

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I don't know what your problem might be, but I can explain how the values end up in that table.
when a product page is viewed, the event catalog_controller_product_view is dispatched.
This event is observed by Mage_Reports_Model_Event_Observer::catalogProductView.

This method just instantiates a model and saves record in the table report_viewed_product_index

 Mage::getModel('reports/product_index_viewed')
        ->setProductId($productId)
        ->save()
        ->calculate();

In the _beforeSave method for the model Mage_Reports_Model_Product_Index_Viewed the visitor id and customer id are set.

Check Mage_Reports_Model_Product_Index_Abstract::_beforeSave.

I wasn't able to reproduce your issue, but I thought that the stacktrace may help you debug the issue.

  • I see public function getVisitorId() that uses Mage::getSingleton('log/visitor')->getId(); - can it be that we turned of the log model somewhere? – snh_nl Jun 26 '15 at 11:21
  • @snh_nl could be. – Marius Jun 26 '15 at 11:21

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