Peter van der Graaf did a little analysis of the URLs that are generated by the Google Analytics Javascript API and put together a very useful tutorial for building Analytics-enabled applications without the use of Javascript.

When you look at the analytics javascript code you see that it combines several sets of data into an image request. This image request sends the right data to Google (not the javascript). When you know what url you should use for the image, you can call the image directly and send the same data. Of course you need to be able to request the image url and that isn’t easy from another image, rss feed or pdf. This is why we request it “server side”.

You can add the code to the PHP that drives a blog site, for instance, and generate page views when your RSS feed is hit. You can even write a very simple script to proxy images and downloads, which will let you track hit data for all files on your site, not just the html pages viewed by a javascript enabled browser.

Taken a step further, you could even use this on the client side, triggering analytics views from standalone Flash apps or even desktop applications.

The one thing you need to keep in mind is that server-side analytics requests will appear to come from your server, not the client’s machine. So while you can track page views and download events this way, you’ll loose a lot of the information about your user base. Because of this, it would probably make sense to use a separate tracking ID for the server side events.

Google Analytics Without Javascript

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