Mint 1.23 - Fresh Stats for All
13 comments | Posted: 5 December 05 in General, by Nathan Smith
I figured since we have reviewed both Google Analytics and Measure Map on Godbit, that I should probably give Mint its fair shake. I installed it back in October, and have been loving it ever since. I recently upgraded from version 1.14 to 1.23, and have to say that it is really starting to come into its own as a robust stat tracking system.
There are varying opinions about Mint, and its author Shaun Inman. Some people see the system as too simple, and attribute its success due to over-hype and nepotism in the world of web design A-Listers. Others prefer it because of its straight-forward approach and extensibility. I happen to be in the latter crowd, and so I will share with you what I love about this system.
Easy as 123
What makes Mint so great is the extensibility. As of version 1.23, there is a completely new API, which allows programmers greater flexibility in developing Peppers. The screenshot above is from my own site, and makes use of several different Peppers, giving it more functionality than either Measure Map or Analytics. The panes seen here are as follows, left to right, top to bottom:
- Fresh View – by Kyle Rove
- Default – Visits
- Default – Referrers
- Default – Pages
- Session Tracker – by Beau Collins
- Outclicks – by Andrew Sutherland
- Default – Searches
- Referrer Filter – by Ramanan Sivaranjan
- User Agent 007 – by Shaun Inman
- Local Searches – by Shaun Inman
- Strong Mint – by Nathan Kunicki
- Download Counter – by Steve Smith
My favorite plugins by far are: Fresh View, Outclicks, Referral Filter, and Download Counter…
Fresh View graphs your stats over the last day, week, month or year. It is powered by the new hotness – Scalable Vector Graphics, the 1999 open source W3C standard supported now by Opera, Safari and recently Firefox 1.5. Sorry Internet Explorer fans, no luck yet.
Outclicks tracks, you guessed it, outgoing links from your website. Think of it like referral logs upside down. You know how people get to your site, and now you know how they’re leaving, aside from just closing the browser.
Referral Filter is awesome. You can set what domains you want to exclude from your main stats. Prior to this pepper, every single Google image search for desktop wallpapers showed up. Now I can safely block
images.google.*, and pull those stats into their own viewer, or hide them altogether.
Download Counter is a amazing, simply put. You can specify what file-type to track, even SWF. Prior to this pepper, I didn’t know how many people were actually reading my Theology papers, because they are Flashpaper, for Greek & Hebrew font-embedding, and thus cannot be tracked otherwise.
All of Mint’s viewports can of course be shuffled in any order, and the ones not labeled Default can be installed seperately. Additionally, there are many more peppers out there, which may specifically suit your own unique needs.
I especially like that you can view all your stats at a glance, on one page. I have enabled scrollbars on the various panes, to make for a better screenshot, but these by default span as long as they need to. Also, each pane can be refreshed individually, so it is not necessary to reload the entire page.
Pros and Cons
In my opinion, the main benefit of using Mint is that you have complete control over access to your statistics. If your site is functioning, so is Mint. Contrast this with the hosted environment of Measure Map and Analytics, and you might start to understand some of the benefits. These include being able to backup your database at any time, as well as use the API to pull data from Mint for display back on your own site.
Also, even though I trust Google with my Gmail and know that Adaptive Path is a reputable company, knowing that my site stats are private is a comforting thought. Well, at least it was until I plastered ‘em up there as a screenshot! I also like being able to exclude myself from hit-logging, which is not possible with Analytics or Measure Map. With Mint, it’s just a matter of checking “Ignore my visits” in the Preferences interface.
One of the potential drawbacks of Mint is that it requires self-setup. Don’t get me wrong, the process is a breeze, and is well-documented. Plus, if you are having trouble there is an active community that can help you out. Still, for the novice user who just needs easy stats, this task may prove a bit daunting.
Another thing to consider would be Google AdSense. Obviously, they have the advantage with that, and they tie it directly into your stat management. However, being that they are not currently allowing new sign-ups for Analytics, this is a somewhat mute point. We really can’t fault Mint or Measure Map on this count, but I thought I’d mention it.
If you are looking for broad and somewhat impersonal stats of an enterprise level, go sign up for the Analytics waiting list. If you are looking for good, easy to use blog tracking and don’t use Textpattern, feel free to wait in line to test Measure Map. I could go on and on, but will simply recommend considering Mint if you want highly customizable and extensible stats, like control over variables and enjoy tinkering with server-side setups. It’s money well spent.
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