Data / Development / Monitoring

The Netlify Web Platform Adds Server-Side Analytics Aimed at Privacy

15 Jul 2019 3:00am, by

Netlify, the startup focused on making website development easier, has unveiled a server-side analytics tool aimed at greater privacy protection and compliance with data-protection regulations.

“One of the things that has come out of GDPR [the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe] is that a lot of large companies do intensive tracking of individual users — run script across a lot of different sites that captures a lot of detailed information from the browser. That puts you in the position where you have a ton of data on all kinds of people,” said Netlify‘s Matt Biilmann, co-founder and CEO.

The question, he said, is: Are you building a large system to track users as they do things around the web, or are you reporting what your website is doing right now?

He said the company created Netlify Analytics because its customers want a solution that doesn’t store and send user data to third-party organizations.

While most third-party client-side analytics programs use pixels, JavaScript and cookies to track user behavior, Netlify Analytics collects data directly from its worldwide edge nodes without any code running on the client. Using data directly from server logs means there is no impact on performance, according to the company.

It also means no information is lost due to ad blockers, bots or disabled JavaScript.

“One of the coolest things is the 404 not found section. Because we’re coming from the server and not the client like some other analytics tools, when they’re hitting a resource and it’s not there, [they’re] hitting a not-found error. We’re surfacing that data and you can see and correct those things — redirects, an image being lost. For developers, that’s huge,” said Sarah Drasner, head of developer experience at Netlify.

If the name on an image is changed, and a website uses that image on two pages, but the name is changed only on one, the 404 not found section will point out that type of error, Biillmann said.

If a developer neglects to add a project to Google Analytics that data is gone because it’s client-side, she said. Netlify Analytics enables developers to go ahead and add it and see into the past.

Because Netlify is a network provider, GDPR permits it to store IP addresses to operate the service, but that’s because it’s not doing anything to track users, according to the company. It’s solely reporting system behavior and aggregate numbers of IP addresses for which pages are served. It does not share information or IP addresses with customers in a way that would allow them to get information on an identifiable user, and the Analytics service never processes any personal information, it says.

While there are other server-log-based analytics options, including Matomo, AWStats and Webalizer, this is a one-click setup that requires no integrations, pointed out co-founder and president Chris Bach.

Data from logs is pulled into dashboards within the Netlify suite once an hour, including page views, unique visitors, top pages, top sources and bandwidth used.

The company announced Netlify Analytics at the London JAMstack conference. JAMstack is the approach of using JavaScript, APIs and Markup to build dynamic web applications. It’s an add-on to the company’s Git-based global application delivery platform at an additional $9 a month for 250,000 page views.

The company also recently announced Netlify Dev, a powerful local dev server with live sharing capabilities, that enables developers to build and test their applications directly on their laptops.

Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

A newsletter digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.

View / Add Comments

Please stay on topic and be respectful of others. Review our Terms of Use.