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 🙂