Tracking Sitecore DMS with Real Time Analytics
I recently worked on a couple of projects where I implemented the multivariate testing included in Sitecore DMS. During implementation, I found that as I was navigating through the site I had a hard time analyzing the amount of engagement value and goals I was accruing. I ended up running subsequent SQL queries to verify the data was being correctly recorded in the analytics database.
After a couple of days of manually tracking the data, I decided to build an Information Panel that tracked the data for me as I progressed through the website. This panel provides information regarding the current visitor, the current visit and the goals that visit has accrued. This proved vital for allowing our Quality Assurance group to adequately test the new functionality, and gave clients a visual to indicate which goals they are triggering during their user acceptance timeline.
Along with the tracking information, the module contains three useful features:
- New Visit Button: Instead of closing your browser or opening a private browsing window to initiate a new visit, simply click the New Visit button and the DMS cookie is cleared and the Information Panel is refreshed.
- Flush Button: For performance reasons, Sitecore DMS batches its SQL statements to the database. For testing though, we want immediate results. There are configuration changes we can make to increase the amount of writes to the database or decrease the amount of time we need to wait until the analytic data is written, but the Information Panel's Flush button tells Sitecore to write the data back to the database whenever we need it to.
- Refresh: The Information Panel is wired up to update itself every 3-4 seconds by using jQuery AJAX. This button ensures that the panel is displaying the latest data being tracked.
To add the Sitecore DMS Information Panel to your instance, download the Sitecore package and add a reference to the Information Panel web user control in your layout file. You will also need to add a SQL function to your analytics database, which is found here.
The Sitecore DMS Information Panel library works on Sitecore 6.5.0 (rev.120427) or higher due to schema changes within the analytics database. You can find the Sitecore Analytics library on GitHub as open source. I welcome any and all contributions, large or small! :)