It’s official – urchin.js is not “going dark” anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t upgrade your website’s Google Analytics Tracking Code to the newer, fresher, more dynamic GA.js tracking module. Sure, you can continue to use urchin.js and your data will still be collected and appear in your reports. However, there are not one, not two, but six benefits of spending a bit of time editing your footers, includes, or hard-coding your HTML source code to include the GA.js tracking script.
Let’s review these six great benefits one by one:
1. A Faster and Smaller Source File – Even though the actual sizes of the files are almost identical at 22.1 KB, the urchin.js file is over 600 lines long and is slower, less efficient. The ga.js file is a mere 41 lines long and is a very modern object-oriented tracking model. See them for yourself (Download urchin.js | Download ga.js). Think of this like you would think of two of the same car – for example – two Toyota Corollas, one from 1995 and the other from 2009. They both weigh about the same, but one is much more modern, environmentally sound, and better on gas than the other one.
2. Automatic detection of HTTPS – This saves a boatload of programming and coding time. Simply insert ga.js across all of your website’s pages without having to worry about coding differently for those secure pages that are being uploaded to the secure server. GA.js will automatically detect the protocol – urchin.js cannot do this unless you physically edit the tracking code.
3. Increased Namespace Safety – What this means in the most basic of layman’s terms is that ga.js does a better job in protecting your individual security (in terms of data) than urchin.js can. While ga.js never collects personally-identifiable information, such as zip codes or personal email addresses, it still needs a way to uniquely identify each visitor that accesses a website, which ga.js does in a safer way.
4. More convenient for tracking Ecommerce transactions – With ga.js, you can simply add the calls to _addTrans, _addItem, and _trackTrans right after the call to _trackPageview within the tracking code. There is no need for additional scripts or onLoad events like there is with urchin.js.
5. More customizable code for AJAX-based sites – The ga.js tracking code opens the door for “Web 2.0” websites that are loaded with videos, applets, widgets, and flash movies. This is almost not possible to do with urchin.js.
6. Take advantage of tracking functionality as it is added to Google Analytics – New, jazzy features such as Event Tracking can only be used if the website is using ga.js. The web is becoming less and less static with each passing day, and the need is increasing for being able to track actions on movies and flash games that are on many websites today. With urchin.js, this is not possible. Also, as new reports and sections are added to Google Analytics, you will need to be using ga.js to be able to take advantage of them.
Is migrating to urchin.js required? No, it is not. Is it highly recommended? Yes, positively it is.
Everyone loves to prognosticate, don’t they? From the guys on NBC’s Football Night in America to your buddies at work, everyone likes to predict, forecast, and make guesses as to who will win the Super Bowl / become the next president / be the next American Idol. Usually, most folks turn out to be wrong – even some of the top experts on TV – but, hey, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
When it comes to blogging, I am not a big fan of prediction posts. However, today, I’m making an exception. I have come up with 5 predictions for Google Analytics in 2009. These are five elements that I am predicting will happen with Google Analytics before the 2009 year is over. This is completely separate from my Google Analytics Wish List that I created a while ago.
My Predictions for Google Analytics in 2009:
1. urchin.js will be eliminated from the system, forcing everyone to officially migrate to ga.js
Ok, so now that I have your attention. 🙂 This has been a long time coming, folks. urchin.js is the Legacy Tracking Code, and they are eventually going to do away with it entirely. I suspect that this will happen toward the end of 2009, so that everyone has more than enough time to migrate over to ga.js.
2. Google Website Optimizer will be integrated into the Google Analytics interface
This is a matter of convenience. Somehow, Google Website Optimizer will be available via your Google Analytics Account settings, to set-up an A/B or Multivariate Experiment. There will also be reports within the GA Interface from Google Website Optimizer as well.
3. New “Blogs”, “Mobile”, and “Social Media” report sections will be added
I predict that this will happen sooner rather than later so that you can analyze these three sources of traffic individually from each other. This also means, from a technical standpoint, that Google Analytics will introduce new default medium dimensions, like “social-media” and “mobile”, breaking them off from the “referral” medium, as they appear by default at this time.
4. New Path Analysis reports will be added
Google Analytics will either upgrade the Navigation Summary / Entrance Paths reports, or they will replace them with brand new Path Analysis style reports. The current reports are very tough to understand, much less usable and insightful. That will not be the case any longer in 2009.
5. The Reporting Section will receive a big facelift; new bells and whistles will be added.
The reporting section in Google Analytics at this time is quite limited. You can only schedule an automatic report to be run on a Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Quarterly basis, and you can only do so much with the Subject and Description lines. Expect some improvements here, with some ability to schedule a report from a custom date range, other file formats (.xls would be nice), and some other neat things.
Will any or all of my predictions come through? We’ll know the answer in a little over 1 year from now.