I work alone like you. We always work alone.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A couple of days ago I was lamenting the state of webstats, although I was a little vague as to my purpose. Specifically I was wanting to find out about the screen resolutions and user-agents viewing a couple of sites.

To get screen resolutions you really need to inject javascript into your pages, which is icky. Still its a small price to pay, and chances are most people won't notice.

Of course there are drawbacks:

Javascript dependency.

If the visitors don't use/enable javascript you see nothing.

You cannot capture everything.

e.g. HTTP status code isn't available.

To solve this problem completely you therefore need to have access to both your apache logs and your javascript-captured information. Probably.

As a proof of concept I've injected the following javascript into most pages of three sites. This code:

  • Finds the screen resolution.
  • Finds the HTTP referer.
  • Finds the current page's title.
  • Then submits that to a server-side collection script, via a one-by-one pixel IMG

The script that receives the data writes out the data to a small per-domain SQLite database, which I can then use to generate prettyness. However I suck at being pretty, in most ways, so I've only got functional:

All of this is dynamic and most of the data is anchored to "today", as thats proof of concept enough. Were piwik not written in vile PHP I'd use that - I don't see anything similar out there which is Perl..

The big decision is now "Keep it dynamic" vs. "Output static pages". (vs. call off the experiment now I know that I'm safe to assume "big resolutions").

(Naming software is hard. Recent stuff I've done has had an skx prefix primarily for google-juice. e.g. Randomly I notice that if you search for my personal site on Google's UK engine I come top. Cool.)

ObSubject: The Bourne Identity



Comments On This Entry

[gravitar] Kjetil

Submitted at 12:09:15 on 1 december 2009

By storing screen resolution instead of window size, aren't you being fooled by users who don't operate their browser maximized?

[author] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 20:02:20 on 3 december 2009

Sadly I couldn't find a simple way to find the size of the browser window.

The closest I can get is the document size - which takes no account of the scrolling viewport. I will investigate this again in a couple of days, but mostly I think I've done enough to have interesting stats.


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