Drilling down into your site's usage

February 24, 2010 Jack Repenning

How can you understand how your CollabNet site is really being used? This simple question has many implications but few answers.

Generic web monitoring tools can do their generic best, but they don’t know anything about the structure of your CollabNet site and the CollabNet product: projects, components, and actions are all key to how you use the site, but opaque to generic tools. They’re not integrated.

On the other hand, tools based on inserting code snippets into your pages really demand that you already understand what’s important. Too often, they can appear to confirm your theories–but only because you didn’t know enough to ask the right questions. They’re not exploratory.

We have a tool suite on our community site, called “CollabNet Apache Stats,” or CollabaStats, that makes some attempt to be better integrated than web monitoring tools, while still preserving the exploratory power to shake you out of unexamined assumptions. CollabaStats is a log-analysis tool focused on the Apache HTTPD logs, but with extra understanding of how the CollabNet site software works.

The project website contains a wiki that guides you through setting up the data capture and insertion into a database. (Currently, CollabaStats requires a MySQL database.) Be sure to look over the Requirements information: such a database can be quite demanding, depending on your site’s traffic levels and the amount of history you try to analyze.

To see the actual files of the project, you’ll need to log in to the site.

The Source Code repository for the project is structured as an Eclipse BIRT workspace, to help you design reports to explore your site behavior. There are a dozen or so report templates there that you can use and modify, and pre-digested examples of their reports, so you can see some of the possibilities:

This is a community project: you can participate. There are discussion fora where you can ask questions and (once you’ve gained some experience) provide answers. There’s a Tracker for reporting bugs, requesting enhancements, and finding ways to contribute. And if you want to make significant code, documentation, or sample-report contributions, contact the Project Administrator (listed on the Project Home page) about becoming a project member.

It’s a community: the  project, the process, and the source are open to you. Because that’s the Open Source way.

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