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Tracking usage of Assembly Line interviews

Overview

Docassemble is designed to protect the privacy of interview users. However, you may have very good reasons to collect usage information:

  • Your users might all be inside a single organization rather than consumers
  • You may need to collect anonymous statistics to report to a funder
  • You may be an entity like a court or tribunal and need the information for a legitimate purpose, to serve the user or litigant's needs

Collecting anonymous analytics with Google or Segment

Docassemble has a native integration with both Google Analytics and Segment.

Google is widely used and free, but usage is reported to Google and used for purposes of selling advertisements. Segment is a commercial analytics tool with a paid tier.

An advantage of Google Analytics and Segment is that the data will be stored for the long term and you do not need to worry about persisting it between server outages or upgrades, nor about retaining information long term on your server. A disadvantage is that they rely on well-known user tracking tools that may be blocked by ad-blocking or other security software, so the usage statistics may not be completely accurate.

To use this integration:

  1. Make sure each question in your interview has an id. The id specifier will be added automatically to interviews created with the Assembly Line Weaver.

Example:

id: this is the google or segment analytics id
question: |
What is your name
fields:
- Name: user_name

Sign up for Google Analytics or Segment, and follow the Docassemble documentation to enable tracking with the system of your choice.

This integration allows for very basic tracking. You can identify popular interviews, screens, and dropoff points. Perhaps the most important thing to track is to assign an id named download to your download screen. Then, inside Google Analytics, you can search for the keyword "download" under Behavior | Site Content | All pages.

Note that the "page url" in Google Analytics will have the name of the package and YAML file inserted into the URL. This means you do not need to worry about prefixing the page IDs in order to uniquely track the usage of different interviews installed on your server.

Collecting information with store_variables_snapshot()

By default, every interview created by the Weaver includes this line in a mandatory code block:

store_variables_snapshot({"zip": users[0].address.zip})

This code runs immediately before the download screen, providing a good proxy of completed interviews. It stores the user's zip code in the Docassemble datatabase, and can be used to run reports about anonymous usage.

You can choose to narrow or expand the data that is captured with this tool. The default stores only the zip code, but if you remove all parameters, the user's full interview session will be captured in a simplified state. You can also manually add additional interview variables that you want to store. For example, if you wanted to store the user's city and the list of options they chose for a checkbox variable named user_preference:

store_variables_snapshot({
"zip": users[0].address.zip,
"city": users[0].address.city,
"user_preference": user_preference.true_values()
})

Docassemble interviews can store complex nested objects that don't fit neatly in a spreadsheet. If you want to manipulate the data later, you may want to "flatten" the data so that it is a neat linear list of fields. That will make later analysis easier.

You may also want to adjust the time that the data is stored. If you add the parameter persistent=True, the data will persist even if the user's session is deleted, which may happen every 90 days in a default Docassemble server environment.

Full documentation for store_variables_snapshot() can be found on the Docassemble website.

Viewing information stored by store_variables_snapshot()

You can use the Assembly Line InterviewStats package to view statistics that are captured with store_variables_snapshot().

InterviewStats can be installed with the ALDashboard installation wizard. Once it is installed, visit https://docassemble.example.com/start/InterviewStats/stats (replace docassemble.example.com with the correct address for your docassemble server).

You will see a selection of interviews to choose from. This list is taken from the list of interviews that you have set up in the dispatch directive in your docassemble configuration file.

Once you select an interview, you will be able browse and view basic summary information about it. You will also see a link to download the full data as an Excel spreadsheet.