Local setup and debugging

Internal events are using a tool called Snowplow under the hood. To develop and test internal events, there are several tools related to Snowplow to test frontend and backend events:

Testing Tool Frontend Tracking Backend Tracking Local Development Environment Production Environment Production Environment
Snowplow Analytics Debugger Chrome Extension Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Snowplow Micro Yes Yes Yes No No

For local development you will have to either setup a local event collector or configure a remote event collector. We recommend using the local setup together with the internal events monitor when actively developing new events.

Setup local event collector

By default, self-managed instances do not collect event data via Snowplow. We can use Snowplow Micro, a Docker based Snowplow collector, to test events locally:

  1. Ensure Docker is installed and working.

  2. Enable Snowplow Micro:

    gdk config set snowplow_micro.enabled true
  3. Optional. Snowplow Micro runs on port 9091 by default, you can change to 9092 by running:

    gdk config set snowplow_micro.port 9092
  4. Regenerate your Procfile and YAML config by reconfiguring GDK:

    gdk reconfigure
  5. Restart the GDK:

    gdk restart
  6. You can now see all events being sent by your local instance in the Snowplow Micro UI and can filter for specific events.

Introduction to Snowplow Micro UI and API

Watch the video about Snowplow Micro

Configure a remote event collector

On GitLab.com events are sent to a collector configured by GitLab. By default, self-managed instances do not have a collector configured and do not collect data with Snowplow.

You can configure your self-managed GitLab instance to use a custom Snowplow collector.

  1. On the left sidebar, at the bottom, select Admin Area.
  2. Select Settings > General.
  3. Expand Snowplow.
  4. Select Enable Snowplow tracking and enter your Snowplow configuration information. For example:

    Name Value
    Collector hostname your-snowplow-collector.net
    App ID gitlab
    Cookie domain .your-gitlab-instance.com
  5. Select Save changes.

Internal Events Monitor

Watch the demo video about the Internal Events Tracking Monitor

To understand how events are triggered and metrics are updated while you use the Rails app locally or rails console, you can use the monitor.

Start the monitor and list one or more events that you would like to monitor. In this example we would like to monitor i_code_review_user_create_mr.

rails runner scripts/internal_events/monitor.rb i_code_review_user_create_mr

The monitor shows two tables. The top table lists all the metrics that are defined on the i_code_review_user_create_mr event. The second right-most column shows the value of each metric when the monitor was started and the right most column shows the current value of each metric. The bottom table has a list selected properties of all Snowplow events that matches the event name.

If a new i_code_review_user_create_mr event is fired, the metrics values will get updated and a new event will appear in the SNOWPLOW EVENTS table.

The monitor looks like below.

Updated at 2023-10-11 10:17:59 UTC
Monitored events: i_code_review_user_create_mr

|                                                                          RELEVANT METRICS                                                                          |
| Key Path                                                                    | Monitored Events             | Instrumentation Class | Initial Value | Current Value |
| counts_monthly.aggregated_metrics.code_review_category_monthly_active_users | i_code_review_user_create_mr | AggregatedMetric      | 13            | 14            |
| counts_monthly.aggregated_metrics.code_review_group_monthly_active_users    | i_code_review_user_create_mr | AggregatedMetric      | 13            | 14            |
| counts_weekly.aggregated_metrics.code_review_category_monthly_active_users  | i_code_review_user_create_mr | AggregatedMetric      | 0             | 1             |
| counts_weekly.aggregated_metrics.code_review_group_monthly_active_users     | i_code_review_user_create_mr | AggregatedMetric      | 0             | 1             |
| redis_hll_counters.code_review.i_code_review_user_create_mr_monthly         | i_code_review_user_create_mr | RedisHLLMetric        | 8             | 9             |
| redis_hll_counters.code_review.i_code_review_user_create_mr_weekly          | i_code_review_user_create_mr | RedisHLLMetric        | 0             | 1             |
|                                             SNOWPLOW EVENTS                                             |
| Event Name                   | Collector Timestamp      | user_id | namespace_id | project_id | plan    |
| i_code_review_user_create_mr | 2023-10-11T10:17:15.504Z | 29      | 93           |            | default |

Snowplow Analytics Debugger Chrome Extension

Snowplow Analytics Debugger is a browser extension for testing frontend events. It works in production, staging, and local development environments. It is especially suited to verifying correct events are getting sent in a deployed environment.

  1. Install the Snowplow Analytics Debugger Chrome browser extension.
  2. Open Chrome DevTools to the Snowplow Debugger tab.
  3. Any event triggered on a GitLab page should appear in the Snowplow Debugger tab.