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I just noticed that from V1.3.4 on the google analytics are enabled for Waveforms Live , also for the 'offline' version.
I'm not really a fan of these tracking applications that monitor whatever page you click.
As far as I can see, it collects the following information when using WaveForms Live 'offline':

  • The total time a user spends on your site.
  • The time a user spends on each page and in what order those pages were visited.
  • What internal links were clicked (based on the URL of the next pageview).
  • the IP address, user agent string
  • The geographic location of the user.
  • What browser and operating system are being used.
  • Screen size and whether Flash or Java is installed.
  • The referring site.

What are the reasons to enable the analytics and start collecting this kind of information for this 'offline' webapp?


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I used to be very much against using Google Analytics, as you've expressed above.  Indeed, I've still got Google Analytics blocked in all of my ad-block scripts--just 'cause I don't want people tracking me.

Then I started blogging.

Strangers started approaching me and talking to me about articles I had written.  In many ways, I'd end up surprised ... really, you heard about that?  Or, after I put a lot of energy into a post, sometimes I'd find links to that post around the web and then I'd wonder ... what happened?  How many people really liked my posts?

So I added Google Analytics to my site.  I can now measure how many individuals are interested in my posts, and even see "events" when someone chooses to post an article on Hackaday.com or Hacker News.  Knowing where my articles end up getting posted helps me get feedback for my articles as well, since I can see what others write about it.  At the end of the year, I was even able to put together a top-10 list of articles people liked.  It now helps me know what my audience is interested in.

Were I Digilent (I'm not), I'd want this information as well--even more so, too, since they are selling their products via their web page.  Their marketing group wants to know how many people are looking at which product, and which product they end up purchasing.  They'd like to know if a product has an inferior design, if it is too hard to use, or if people don't realize the value of an item.  These are all questions that Google Analytics can help recognize--although the forum helps as well.

Now, to your question ... when I search through the Google-Analytics results on my own web site, Google-Analytics removes user information.  As a result, I can't tell that @chuvke entered at this location, browsed in this fashion, and left.  Instead, I can only tell that 156 of my users in the last week entered my site through this page, or 67 came through this other page, 66 through this page, and after their first interaction, 34 go on to read about FPGA Hell, 19 want to read what projects I'm working on and so forth.  The web page (shown below) just ... doesn't reveal that much about users, but rather more about flow through the web-site.


From my perspective, though--I hardly ever use this chart.  Drilling through this data is just too difficult, but I would imagine Digilent is big enough to have someone look at this sort of stuff--I just don't know how they would make heads or tails of this, but I digress.

I don't even have access to the IP address beyond a chart showing what nations people are viewing my site from.  The real-time display (shown below) offers more--often down to the city level, but still not the actual IP address.  I do know that there are some viewers who obscure this information.  That's okay.  I can respect their privacy, especially since it's only a small percentage of the viewers of my blog who do so.


Browser, O/S, and screen size are also *very* important to any web-designer, as they help tell the web designer what screen sizes and browsers a particular page needs to be tested with to make certain it "looks" good.  Indeed, some time ago I had to contact Digilent about a problem that kept me from being able to read key portions of a web page.  Most customers won't do that, they'll just give up--that's the worst thing that can happen for a Vendor, for customers to struggle to learn about your product and therefore decide from a bad web-experience that they are not interested in it.  Google Analytics tries to provide the web-designer the information necessary so they can do their own testing of pages to make certain they look good.


In other words, while it might feel like you are being tracked by Digilent, as a Google Analytics user myself, I can say that from my own experience the reality of what takes place is far from any fears I had initially.


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