Tuesday 6 September 2005

Mint is a new web server statistics package. Its slant is that it is simpler than other packages like Awstats or analog. Some people feel this is a negative, others think it is Mint’s strength:

Mint, as the name so cryptically implies, is designed to give you a “fresh look at your site”. A slice in time, if you will. Where has my traffic from the last 48 hours come from? What days of the week does activity on my site peak? What terms have people possibly been searching for that could lead them to my embarrassment-of-a-website?

Mint grew out of a desire to maintain a rolling window, or dashboard, of activity with which one could easily analyze what’s going on in the here and in the now. Not so much in the two years ago. It is this philosophy which allows Mint to maintain such a small database (generally around 20 megs, but fully customizable) and yet provide such great functionality.

Mint is also different from most other packages, in that it uses JavaScript on the pages to collect information, rather than analyzing the server logs. This allows it to exclude referrer spam, but means requiring JavaScript in your readers’ browsers.


I had to re-read the requirement of using JS on your pages several times before I believed it. While the Mint screenshots look ace, I really don't care for having to specially instrument my site to use it, as opposed to server log parsers.
Js measures on sites have been going on for 4 or more years now. Its how large companies like Coremetrics or Omniture track site usage for the largest of enterprises. It tends to be much more effective than log files, since stats can be updated almost instantly, and one doesn't have to parse files ignoring some requests and interpeting others. In addition, the adding of the js is usually done in some type of include auto-added at the top or bottom of a page, making managment relatively easy.

Yes, server logs are "unintrusive", but there are far more types of data that can be gotten by site tagging than by trying to either customize your logging or by just reading the basic logs.

There are hundreds of site trackers out there aggregating data either for pay or for serving an ad through the site tag. In addition, besides the large companies I mentioned, many commercial log tools allow you to use either or both data source (logs or site tags) to track.

So, nothing new here, other than a rather expensive offering for the limited data you get (but darn attractive). In fact, I'm sort of suprised so much is being made out of this offering; its rather weak compared to even some of the free ones. I do like some of the rss and referrer reports, but lots of other stuff is just missing. How do I examine what refers led people to which pages? How do I examine which referrers sent me people who read more than one page?

Anyway, some interesting tools to look at include: (sims meet web tracking) (affordable and cool) (not affordable, and very cool).
Ned, Webtrends has used a hulking mass of javascript for years to gather client info and set a cookie, among other evils. While Mint's price can't be beat, I'll take Urchin installed at the host to save me those precious MySQL tables.

The site's look kicks major butt, Inman is often duplicated.

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