A New Look At The Data

So, I haven’t yet started my new project – my shared Alexa and WordPress programming project where I plan to create a web service that provides data to a WordPress plugin and Alexa Skill. No, I have instead been working on a side project.

A week or so ago, one of my work colleagues, Joe McGill, turned me on to the open source analytics-reporter that was developed by 18F and the Washington State University’s fork of 18F’s analytics dashboard.

Given we both work on the team that builds many of the front-facing websites for Washington University in St. Louis, a new analytics dashboard has obvious appeal, and what intrigued me most about this solution was that it offered something that I’ve wanted for a long time: a single, comparative view of web traffic for multiple websites.

Google OAuth 2

There were many new skills for me to develop on this project, but probably the most confounding was setting up and using Google OAuth 2 correctly. I don’t know why, but OAuth mystifies me.

After hours of working with settings and multiple Google account parameters, I did finally manage to successfully authenticate my code, but I still can’t explain why it finally started working. After multiple cryptic error codes, like invalid_grant and invalid_client, and reading countless forums where people were trying to identify the cause of these errors, I was so happy to finally resolve these issues that I haven’t gone back to really learn OAuth.

My bad, I know, but I’m just not ready.

What I Learned

In addition to Oauth, this project gave the the opportunity to work with Jekyll, Yml and JSON. I also had the opportunity to work more with Nginx and developed a better understanding for how to structure our multiple Google Analytics properties at WashU.

Overall, this “side project” has proved to be very useful.

The Results

I now have an analytics dashboard that lets me view and compare activity across the multiple sites in our guided self-service website solution called WashU Sites. I will be setting this up for our other sites too, but I first need to reconfigure our GA properties.

I would love to show you what I created, though it does look exactly like WSU’s site, but this has been mostly a skunkworks project and I’ll need to get approval to share these data publicly before I can post a link to this work.

Follow me on Twitter: @amelungc