Making Google Analytics and jQuery Mobile Work Together

The jQuery Mobile framework is excellent for many things, but its single page architecture can be hard to track through analytics packages. This post will show you how to make some tweaks to your Google Analytics insert code to help it gather statistics from jQuery Mobile.

A little more background on why this is necessary… Within jQuery Mobile each page view is just a specific snippet of HTML on a single HTML page pulled into the browser view by Javascript. Most analytics packages treat these visits as a single page load and your page view statistics end up looking like, well, not much as the only page recorded is the source page – index.html. Not very helpful in terms of analysis… Google Analytics requires a few tweaks to be able to record these Javascript-generated page views. Here are the steps to make that happen.

Step 1: Include the asynchronous Google Analytics script loader between the <head> tags in your jQuery Mobile index page.

<script type="text/javascript">
 var _gaq = _gaq || [];
 _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-XX']);
 _gaq.push(['_gat._anonymizeIp']);
(function() {
  var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
  ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
  var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];
  s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
 })();
</script>

All we have done here is bring the Google Analytics Javascript tracking code onto the page. You will need to specify the Google Profile Account ID you received when setting up your Google Analytics web property to identify the web site/app you want to track. (Add that info to the “UA-XXXXXXXX-XX” section above.) We included the asynchronous loader method as it lets other parts of the page load as connections become available and helps with performance over spotty mobile networks (or dodgy networks anywhere…).

Step 2: Using the jQuery base library script and its native functions, add a “track page views” event right before the closing of the <body> tag in your jQuery Mobile index page.

<script type="text/javascript">
 $('[data-role=page]').on('pageshow', function (event, ui) {
  try {
    _gaq.push( ['_trackPageview', event.target.id] );
    console.log(event.target.id);
  } catch(err) {
  }
});
</script>

In the routine above, we set up the “pageshow” event to make a note of any action on the page and we are binding that event to the Google Analytics _trackPageview() method on every page load to allow for a recording of any live action on the page. With the line – “_gaq.push( ['_trackPageview', event.target.id] );” – we are telling Google Analytics to record the specific page id in the HTML into our analytics data. With these changes, the logs start to look more familiar and each snippet of HTML that has been visited will be part of the log record.

screenshot showing Google Analytics after applying jQuery Mobile modifications

[Figure 1: Screenshot showing Google Analytics recording each page view in a jQuery Mobile app]

A final note: Under this method of tracking, the way you identify your individual pages within jQuery Mobile is important. Use markup and names that will make sense when you see them in your Google Analytics logs (or any logs for that matter…). Some sample markup:

<div data-role="page" id="search" data-theme="d">

Because the page id has been set up intuitively, I will be able to look for “search” in my Google Analytics reports and get specific tracking data about that particular “page”.

To see a full HTML example with all of the above code in context, visit http://www.lib.montana.edu/~jason/files/touch-jquery/ and “view source”.


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