JavaScript tracking punks given a thrashing by good old-fashioned server log analytics

Netlify this week exceeded the coverage of its take to deal with the increase of ad blockers in analytics. Do it on the server.

With many analysis tools that require tracking of pixels, cookies or JavaScript on the website, the arms race

The solution is, Netlify told the JAMstack conference in London, using all the generated log files on the web server. itself. After all, unless you have more nefarious goals in mind, that information should be all that developers need to stay the course. However, marketers may suffer from disappointment.

The first cut of the system will track the usual things: page views, unique visitors, bandwidth, main pages and, what is more useful, where resources are not found (such as a lost image or 404).

It seems obvious: one would expect a missing resource to show up somewhere in the tests as part of CI / CD, but the number of borked sites out there indicates that this is not the case.

Of course, Netlify is by no means the only game in the city when it comes to ingesting analytical data from its edge server nodes. Registration data has always been hanging around, but pushing the analyzes on the client makes things a little more personal. For those who want to use the server log files, there are competing tools like Matomo.

But Matomo's tastes are heavy in terms of features and expensive. While Matomo starts with around $ 59 / month for its "Essential" package and 300,000 page views monthly, Netlify is $ 9 / month for 250,000 page views per month.

Those $ 9 are above what you pay for Netlify at this time, of course, and you have to join the approximately 600,000 users of the web hosting platform for dummies. Matomo, on the other hand, is a bit more cross-platform.

Still, for Netlify users (and it seems that there are quite a few options that opt ​​for the team's vision in multiple cloud hosting without the tear), the new functionality is an interesting alternative to tracking JavaScript, with The additional advantage of complying with GDPR.

Certainly, privacy is a hot topic these days, and the gang hopes that by simply capturing a user's IP address and not sharing it with the analytics tool, such problems are skipped. Netlify keeps those IP addresses in its registries to combat DDoS attacks and so on.

Another drawback is that when using the records for analysis, there is no simple way for a user to choose not to participate. It is up to the website operator to make these options available.

Records are kept for 30 days and, to be frank, with only one IP address that is probably assigned dynamically by an ISP or masking a user organization, individual tracking at the level that a script will enjoy on the client will be difficult with this tool, something the Netlify team recognized when we spoke to them earlier this week.

Netlify CEO Mathias Biilmann Christensen and President Christian Bach told The Register that plans were underway to make the future versions a little more granular to trace a user's path to through a site, as well as to introduce alerts and notifications when thresholds are reached.

Meanwhile, the function, which works from the data taken from the logs once an hour, shows its metrics in the control panels within the Netlify suite and requires a developer to only enable it (and start pay) to use it. Since it is extracted from the records, there is also no impact on performance.

It is an ordered tool, which gives developers a practical view of how things work. However, the inability to track a user's path will bother some. And some organizations will lose the ability to decorate a user's browser with JavaScript tracking.

And that, to be honest, probably is not a bad thing. ®

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