- Enable Snowplow tracking
- Snowplow request flow
- Structured event taxonomy
- Snowplow monitoring
- Related topics
Snowplow is an enterprise-grade marketing and Product Intelligence platform that tracks how users engage with our website and application.
Snowplow consists of several loosely-coupled sub-systems:
- Trackers fire Snowplow events. Snowplow has twelve trackers that cover web, mobile, desktop, server, and IoT.
- Collectors receive Snowplow events from trackers. We use different event collectors that synchronize events to Amazon S3, Apache Kafka, or Amazon Kinesis.
- Enrich cleans raw Snowplow events, enriches them, and puts them into storage. There is a Hadoop-based enrichment process, and a Kinesis-based or Kafka-based process.
- Storage stores Snowplow events. We store the Snowplow events in a flat file structure on S3, and in the Redshift and PostgreSQL databases.
- Data modeling joins event-level data with other data sets, aggregates them into smaller data sets, and applies business logic. This produces a clean set of tables for data analysis. We use data models for Redshift and Looker.
- Analytics are performed on Snowplow events or on aggregate tables.
Tracking can be enabled at:
- The instance level, which enables tracking on both the frontend and backend layers.
- The user level. User tracking can be disabled on a per user basis. GitLab respects the Do Not Track standard, so any user who has enabled the Do Not Track option in their browser is not tracked at a user level.
Snowplow tracking is enabled on GitLab.com, and we use it for most of our tracking strategy.
To enable Snowplow tracking on a self-managed instance:
On the top bar, select Menu > Admin, then select Settings > General. Alternatively, go to
admin/application_settings/generalin your browser.
Select Enable Snowplow tracking and enter your Snowplow configuration information. For example:
Name Value Collector hostname
Select Save changes.
The following example shows a basic request/response flow between the following components:
- Snowplow JS / Ruby Trackers on GitLab.com
- GitLab.com Snowplow Collector
- The GitLab S3 Bucket
- The GitLab Snowflake Data Warehouse
Click events must be consistent. If each feature captures events differently, it can be difficult to perform analysis.
Each click event provides attributes that describe the event.
|category||text||true||The page or backend section of the application. Unless infeasible, use the Rails page attribute by default in the frontend, and namespace + class name on the backend.|
|action||text||true||The action the user takes, or aspect that’s being instrumented. The first word must describe the action or aspect. For example, clicks must be |
|label||text||false||The specific element or object to act on. This can be one of the following: the label of the element, for example, a tab labeled ‘Create from template’ for |
|property||text||false||Any additional property of the element, or object being acted on.|
|value||decimal||false||Describes a numeric value (decimal) directly related to the event. This could be the value of an input. For example, |
* If you choose to omit the category you can use the default.
** Use property for variable strings.
SELECT session_id, event_id, event_label, event_action, event_property, event_value, event_category, contexts FROM legacy.snowplow_structured_events_all WHERE event_label = 'reply_comment_button' AND event_action = 'click_button' -- AND event_category = 'projects:issues:show' -- AND event_value = 1 ORDER BY collector_tstamp DESC LIMIT 20
SELECT -- page_url, -- page_title, -- referer_url, -- marketing_medium, -- marketing_source, -- marketing_campaign, -- browser_window_width, -- device_is_mobile * FROM legacy.snowplow_page_views_30 ORDER BY page_view_start DESC LIMIT 100
SELECT count(*) as hits, se_action, se_category, gsc_pseudonymized_user_id FROM legacy.snowplow_gitlab_events_30 WHERE se_label = 'reply_comment_button' AND gsc_pseudonymized_user_id IS NOT NULL GROUP BY gsc_pseudonymized_user_id, se_category, se_action ORDER BY count(*) DESC LIMIT 20
SELECT derived_tstamp, contexts:data:data:extra:old_format as CURRENT_FORMAT, contexts:data:data:extra:value as UPDATED_FORMAT FROM legacy.snowplow_structured_events_all WHERE event_action in ('wiki_format_updated') ORDER BY derived_tstamp DESC LIMIT 100
For different stages in the processing pipeline, there are several tools that monitor Snowplow events tracking:
Product Intelligence Grafana dashboard monitors backend events sent from GitLab.com instance to collectors fleet. This dashboard provides information about:
- The number of events that successfully reach Snowplow collectors.
- The number of events that failed to reach Snowplow collectors.
- The number of backend events that were sent.
- AWS CloudWatch dashboard monitors the state of the events processing pipeline. The pipeline starts from Snowplow collectors, through to enrichers and pseudonymization, and up to persistence on S3 bucket from which events are imported to Snowflake Data Warehouse. To view this dashboard AWS access is required, follow this instruction if you are interested in getting one.
- SiSense dashboard provides information about the number of good and bad events imported into the Data Warehouse, in addition to the total number of imported Snowplow events.
For more information, see this video walk-through.