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.

First of all, when comparing it to Measure Map or Google Analytics, take into account that both of these have entire development teams working on them full-time. Contrast that to Shaun, who is pretty much self-taught at JavaScript and PHP, and is one heck of a designer. The fact that we even draw comparisons between these three packages shows that Mint is quite an accomplishment.

Easy as 123

Click to Enlarge: 180kb

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:

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

Upside:

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.

Drawbacks:

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.

Summary

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.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Yannick

    Nice Nathan. Thanks for a look inside Mint. Measure Map and TXP should be okay to setup now since a solution was found and it seems to work right off the bat with other CMS, so it’s not so bad. hehe.

    I definitely agree though that Mint has got the upper hand when it comes to customization and extensible stats.

     
  2. 2 topfunky

    I love Mint and have bought a few copies.

    I wrote an article on my site that tells how to use Mint with Ruby on Rails

     
  3. 3 Dennis

    I have used Mint on both of my sites for a month now and I agree with what you say all the way. Now that I have it I am a stat junky. It is a great product.

    Dennis Bullock
    http://dennisbullock.com
    http://forksintheroad.com

     
  4. 4 Jason Beaird

    Even though I have more detailed server-log based stats with my hosting provider, I still depend on Mint most of the time to keep a pulse on what’s going on with my site. I was a big fan of Shaun’s original stat endeaver (Shortstat) and Dean Allen’s Refer back before there was Mint and use that combo on my other sites and side projects. I’m still in the camp that thinks $30 for a single site license is a bit high, and I would buy licenses for my other sites if it were less, but it was a worthwhile investment for my main site.

     
  5. 5 Ray

    I don’t put a lot of stock in hype so even though Mint looked and sounded really cool in people’s first impressions, I never decided to try it. But after seeing the screenshot and reading your explanation of it, I think I’ve made up my mind to try it. You pushed me over the edge with your article. Now you owe me $30!

     
  6. 6 David Russell

    Very nice review Nathan.

    Man, you guys are starting to make me look dated. I am so fond of my AWSTATS. I don’t know if I could let go. :) I looked into Mint a few weeks back and I agree with Jason somewhat. $30 seems a tad pricey. But, I can certainly see the benefits of the friendly UI and the expansion factor.

    I’ve got a few sites running on the same server space at 1and1. Will one version of Mint divide itself amongst the sites like AWSTATS does or will I have to buy another version for each directory (and site)?

    Oh, and Dennis, I think everyone should be a stats junkie. :D

     
  7. 7 Rob

    Nice Nathan… Simply put, Mint rocks the casbah and is well worth the 30 duckets.

     
  8. 8 Nathan Smith

    For sure. It’s so nice having everything in one easy to use interface. I even hacked my Textpattern installation to include a little Mint button in the upper left-hand corner. If anyone wants it: Mint + Textpattern Mod.

    Ray: Check’s in the mail. :)

     
  9. 9 Thame

    Yeah, I didn’t think I would like Mint, but it has really grown on me. There are still a few things that bother me (I can’t check my stats on my PDA, whereas ShortStat worked wonderfully) but the Pepper really sealed the deal.

    And Nathan’s mod is worth it just to fix up those ugly tabs. My admin is much cleaner now.

     
  10. 10 Silv

    I think that what Mr. Inman should do, is hire a professional statistics analyzer.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Mint (usable and friendly), I like that you can Pepper it, but it is underpowered. Now it can show nothing more than you can do if you know a little javascript and a little php.

    If somebody would program peppers to really show the “interpreted” information like dispersion and other things (I don’t want to go into more details), then I will buy it. Now pepper developes do google map positioning and other stuff which are in the end useless for the user.

    All in all, I would like to state that the program can collect data and show it to you in a nice way. Too bad that it doesn’t analyze it yet.

     
  11. 11 Nathan Smith

    Silv: Good points, all around. Would you give an example of a stat tracker that you consider to be really good at analyzing data? I know that Google’s service does this, but are there other good ones out there? I’m interested to see which one is your favorite.

     
  12. 12 Silv

    I have a Bachelor Degree in Applied Economy, so I am proficient in statistics, probabilities, inventment efficiency, but Since I have worked since highschool in webdesign, I could say I am more of a webdesigner that echomomist :).

    Where I woked we made our own integrated application(I just designed and thinked – they coded), to fit our best needs. Ok, no nice interface or site-to-site scalability(like Mint or Google Analytics) but it provided information like: who many users, what are they wathing, what are they buying, how much are they surfing one page, how much does the lenght of some descriptions affects the products selling performance, how many visitor turn into users, how many users turn into buyers, how can a blogpost that has more comments to it can affect readers, and so on, strictly depending on project needs

    I would like to show you something but you know rules about privacy policy, and I don’t work there anymore.

    In the end I think for big websites and long term, Analytics(didn’t have much time to tangle with it, so maybe my oppinion is erronated) is much better and useful(even if it is not real time – and you don’t really need real time 48 hour delay is ok – it’s free don’t forget).

    For a personal blog… hmm… maybe Mint, but 30$(per license) for a counter(that you can code yourself) is a little much.

     
  13. 13 Nathan Smith

    Silv: That’s a good assessment, and you make a good point – stats needn’t look pretty, just be functional. Consider though, that many people cannot code something like Mint themselves. For me, that $30 is well worth it. For you, perhaps coding your own would make more sense. It all comes down to your needs vs. how much time you are willing to spend to make it happen.

     

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