Mint

By Deane Barker on May 27, 2009

Mint: A Fresh Look at your Site: This is just a quick shoutout for Mint – no, not the financial management app, I mean the Web analytics app.

Mint is an extensible, self-hosted web site analytics program.

I have a client with an extensive intranet.  So, Google Analytics was out because no one can get outside the firewall.  What to do?

They started looking at some “official” intranet analytics packages, but most of them had price tags over $20K.  So, I talked them into Mint for the heady price of $30.  We loaded it up with a half-dozen plugins (I think one of them cost $15), and they’ve had a blast with it for the last 18 months.

The depth of the plugins is great (plugins are called “pepper” – pepper-mint…get it?).  We’ve installed:

And about a half-dozen other ones.  In particular, we didn’t install this one, but I want to just because of the name:

Holy Crap! is a pane-less Mint pepper that sends an email alert when your website receives a referral from the front page (or popular section) of traffic generating sites like del.icio.us, Digg, or…

We even wrote our own plugin.  They wanted to ignore traffic from a couple workstations, so I wrote a plugin that did reverse DNS on every incoming IP and eliminated those coming from a list of hostnames the client manages in their CMS (every five minutes, a job runs which gets an XML feed from Ektron, then writes this to a PHP array, which is brought into the plugin code via “require” – Rube Goldberg can suck it!).

The API is flexible enough that you could write essentially anything.  Browse the list of third-party plugins sometime, and you’ll get a feel for what people can come up with.

If I have a gripe, it’s that it’s a single user system and swears it will never be anything but (they’re big on the “less is more” philosophy that often winds up being “less is…less”). That’s a drag because with multiple users and permissions on certain reports, they could charge 10x what they do and still do great business in the smaller intranet market.  Positioned right, my client would have gladly paid $1,000 for something like this.

Another gripe that a lot of people could have (on the intranet side) is that it’s PHP/MySQL.  By the grace of God, my client happened to have a RedHat VM lying around we could use, but a lot of companies wouldn’t.

So, if Google Analytics has you feeling a little constrained and you like to tinker, try Mint out.  With the plugin API and some ingenuity, you can get some amazing control and understanding of your site traffic.

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