Thursday, January 17, 2008

Upgrade your Google Analytics tracker

Google Analytics logo

Google released a new version of its Google Analytics tracking code in December after a two-month limited beta. The new Google Analytics tracker is a complete rewrite of JavaScript inherited from the Urchin acquisition in 2005 and the first time the two products have been officially decoupled. The existing version of Google Analytics tracker, urchin.js, has been deprecated but should continue to function until the end of 2008. Google will only roll out new features on the new ga.js tracker. If you currently track website statistics using Google Analytics you should upgrade your templates to take advantage of the new libraries.

What changed?

The new Google Analytics tracker supports proper JavaScript namespacing and more intuitive configuration methods (e.g. _setDomainName instead of _udn). My tests show about a 100 ms faster execution even with a 24% increase (1514 bytes) in file size (ga.js is also minified).

The new tracking code makes advanced features a lot more accessible. You can now track a page on multiple Google Analytics accounts, which should help user generated content sites integrate their author's Google Analytics IDs alongside the company's own tracking account. The new event tracker lets you group a set of on-page related actions such as clicking a drop-down menu or typing a search query (very useful for widgets). Ecommerce tracking is now a lot more readable. You can read about all the tracker changes in the Google Analytics migration guide PDF.


Switching your site tracker is pretty simple. Trackers are now created as objects and configured before the page is tracked.

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
var pageTracker=_gat._getTracker('

That's it. You are now running the new Google Analytics tracker. You'll need to swap in your Analytics account and profile IDs, which should be pretty easy to spot in your existing code.


Google Analytics tracking code is completely rewritten for faster on-page behavior that plays well with others. The old tracker will be deprecated within a year, and new features are only available to users running the new code. Existing Google Analytics users should swap out their tracking code to take full advantage of this free stats tool.

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