Fathom Analytics

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I’ve been going without any sort of analytics for my website for a number of months as I just wasn’t happy with giving all that information to third parties. Plus, this is a fairly small operation here, so it’s not exactly a requirement of mine.

That being said, I’ve been keeping an eye on Fathom Analytics as it looks like an ideal solution:

It tracks users on a website (without collecting personal data) and give you a non-nerdy breakdown of your top content and top referrers. It does so with user-centric rights and privacy, and without selling, sharing or giving away the data you collect. It’s a simple and easy to use for website owners at any technical level.

Looking at the source, it also respects the “do not track” preference of the user.

I’ve been holding off on giving it a go because I had no idea how to install it, until a nice person on Github gave a quick run-through of how to get it running on Heroku. I’m trialing it using a Hobby dyno which costs $7 a month, so if it all works out I’ll happily front that cost.

You’ll need a Heroku account, and the Heroku CLI to follow along. You’ll need to have your billing details filled in as well as it makes use of addons for getting a database. You don’t have to use a Hobby dyno either if you just want to see what’s involved.

So without further ado, the commands are as follows:

# Get the code
$ git clone https://github.com/usefathom/fathom.git
$ cd fathom

# Create a new heroku app
$ heroku create

# Push the fathom container to heroku's registry
$ heroku container:push web

# Release the container
$ heroku container:release web

# Configure fathon to use msql and a secret
$ heroku config:set FATHOM_DATABASE_DRIVER=mysql FATHOM_SECRET=whateverGeneratedSecretYouWantToUse

# Create a new mysql database
$ heroku addons:create jawsdb:kitefin

# Get the mysql connection url
$ heroku config:get JAWSDB_URL //mysql://user:password@host:3306/database_name

# Set database variables from the above url
$ heroku config:set FATHOM_DATABASE_NAME=database_name FATHOM_DATABASE_USER="user" FATHOM_DATABASE_PASSWORD="password" FATHOM_DATABASE_HOST="host:3306"

# Register a new user
$ heroku run ./fathom register --email=something@email.com --password='yourpassword'

To clarify a comment when running heroku config:get JAWSDB_URL ..., what it gives back is what you plug into the next command when setting the Fathom environment variables in the same format //mysql://user:password@host:3306/database_name. I know it kinda explains it already, but I missed it because I was too eager.

After that, it’s almost ready. The last step is to link to the tracking script as follows:

<!-- Fathom - simple website analytics - https://github.com/usefathom/fathom -->
<script>
(function(f, a, t, h, o, m){
    a[h]=a[h]||function(){
        (a[h].q=a[h].q||[]).push(arguments)
    };
    o=f.createElement('script'),
    m=f.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];
    o.async=1; o.src=t; o.id='fathom-script';
    m.parentNode.insertBefore(o,m)
})(document, window, '//your-app-name.herokuapp.com/tracker.js', 'fathom');
fathom('trackPageview');
</script>
<!-- / Fathom -->

I’d say it took about 15 minutes to get up and running, which is pretty good going for me. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Fathom.

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