14 Jan 2010 Burgundavia   » (Journeyer)

Piwik for the win!

It is no secret that I am not a fan of closed source web applications and think they are ultimately detrimental to the future. Unlike others, I don't see a distinction between a "service" and an application. To argue that "services" don't need to free because they are somehow different than applications ignores the reality that for the average user, that distinction no longer exists. Ubuntu Netbook Edition is explicitly removing applications because they claim that web-based tools can replace them, not to mention the more extreme Jolicloud and ChromeOS which do away with desktop applications all together. If we are not careful, we will end up back in the 1980s again, wondering where the source code to our printer word processor went.

However, the reality is that until recently, there were few really good choices in some categories. I run my personal website, coreyburger.ca, on Wordpress, but that is one of the few categories where Open Source has been ahead of the closed source world in terms of ease of use and marketshare.

One of the major holes until recently was Google Analytics, which gives website admins some powerful tools for tracking visitors and how they use your site (and all that entails). Thankfully, this hole has been very well filled with Piwik, an open source competitor to Google Analytics that is racing to feature parity.

So about two months ago I decided to ditch GA as part of a general trend to slowly excise these closed source online applications from my life and jump to Piwik and I haven't looked back. It only needs the LAMP stack, so it will run anywhere Wordpress will. So for those users of GA, I encourage you to free yourself just a little bit more and give Piwik a try.

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