Tracking your XPages app’s usage with Google Analytics

google-analytics-logoOne of the latest requirements from one of my customers was to be able to track the usage of their application. My first though was (obviously): let’s use Google Analytics for that.

The application is almost completely built as a Single Page Application (SPA) using one of my favorite ExtLib components: Dynamic Content. That means that for every change in content, only a part of the page is updated. That also means that the URL of the page is never updated. Those two things are important to remember.

Including Google Analytics in an application is simple: just include the script block that you can get after setting up an Analytics account. It looks similar to this:

<!-- Google Analytics -->
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');
<!-- End Google Analytics -->

This script is standard, except for the line that says ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXX-Y’, ‘auto’); In that line a unique identifier is set that identifies your own Google Analytics property.

When you change the content (facet) of a Dynamic Content component, it also automatically executes any JavaScript blocks that are part of the new content. That happens every time the content is shown again. Very convenient. So I just had to add the script block to all the content that I’m showing and wanted to track.

Now we’re left with only one problem. The Google Analytics script will automatically include the current URL and page title when registering a page view. But since the URL of the SPA is never updated, Google Analytics cannot register requests for different content. Luckily Analytics offers some additional features for Single Page Applications. By making an extra call to the ga() function (before the ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’) call is made) you can set (or fake) the current page’s URL and title:

ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
ga('set', { page : '/9F2', title : 'Title that identifies the dynamic content'});
ga('send', 'pageview');

The ‘page’ property identifies the ‘URL’. It doesn’t have to be a real URL, just use something unique that’s the same every time that specific dynamic content section is shown. The application features (amongst other things) a CMS where I’ve created documents for every unique page. I computed the ‘page’ property to be the document’s NoteID and the ‘title’ as the subject of the content.