Debugging Server Calls and SiteCatalyst

Doing a SiteCatalyst implementation and having trouble figuring out what’s being sent to SiteCatalyst servers? Here’s an Adobe page that contains a list of tools including Adobe’s own Digital Pulse. This page is also awesome because it defines all of the values that you may see in a request – so if you’ve ever wondered what AQB and AQE are, you’re in luck.

Personally, I’ve had limited success with Digital Pulse, particularly with JavaScript / AJAX / web applications. Digital Pulse doesn’t always pick up on changes, requiring shutting the pop-up window down and restarting it. The good news is when you do this, the last sequence of requests is preserved. The only gotcha is the order appears different in IE (latest at the bottom). All other browsers I develop with (Safari, Chrome and Firefox) list the latest server call first. Be warned – using Digital Pulse could cause you to follow a wild goose chase if you forget these problems. That said, if you’re trying to figure out what server calls are being made to a variety of Adobe products – SiteCatalyst and Test&Target – you’ll have immediate visibility to what’s being set while you’re trying to verify or debug your work.

Since I do most of my work in a web application, I live by HTTPFox and FireBug (Net) for validating requests. The same can be done in IE and Chrome’s developer tools. The great thing about HTTPFox is you can filter out all other requests. This is particularly useful if your page or application is making a large number of server calls for images, other tracking pixels, app data, etc… For my implementation of YouSendIt’s SiteCatalyst tracking, filtering by “metrics” allows me to see the image requests being made to the SiteCatalyst servers. Clicking on “Query String” displays the data that is transmitted. This technique works for both page and custom link tracking. This obviously requires you to have an understanding of your implementation, variable settings, etc… but if you’re relatively new to SiteCatalyst and ever find yourself questioning if values are being set correctly, you’ve got the basics of how to validate your tracking calls. BTW – this works with all other web analytics tools 🙂


Summing up web analytics and the web products you use

I was sitting trying to figure out how to sum up what I do as a web analytics architect and engineer. When friends and family who are not in the industry ask what I do, it can be difficult to explain. I was trying to craft a statement that’s simple enough to understand but simple enough to understand without getting into messy details. What came to mind was a media campaign by BASF in the late 90’s explaining they don’t make the everyday products we all use, but they have a hand in making them better.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to apply this line of thinking to web analytics. While at one point in my career, I’ve been part of teams that built products you may have used, my current role is in figuring out what to measure, how to measure and either code it myself, or work with a team to put the tracking in place. The resulting data is then used to identify what works, what doesn’t and identify behaviors that resulted in a good result or in the bad result.

Here’s what I came up with:

I’ve designed pages, experiences and applications for the web, and I’ve built them.

Today, I make it possible to measure, report and provide insight.

Product design and technology make a product.
What I do helps build a better product.

Strategy and marketing build a campaign.
What I do makes it possible to measure success.

Making Adobe Discover work after updating Java

Updating Java on a Mac is starting to get really annoying, especially if you live in Java applications like Adobe Discover (part of the Omniture Suite). The instructions on the Adobe site ( doesn’t appear to work anymore. If you’re in the same boat I was in, try the directions below.

To be in your Omniture Happy Place again:

  1. Follow the instructions on the Apple Support’s website:
  2. Try launching Discover again (or go to your Download folder and launch discover.jnlp)
  3.  If launching was not successful, you should have gotten a Java message about downloading the JRE – click on the “Learn More” link.
  4. Download Java and install.
  5. Relaunch Discover.
  6. You can return to your happy place.

Hopefully this helps.


web analytics and lots of random things