I recently upgraded to 0.4.2, which broke the dashboard, but I’ve been assured a fix is in SVN (Update Aug 4: They no longer plan to fix the bug, but there is a workaround in that thread.). If you want to get the latest code, go here. You can download 0.4.1, the last working version I know of, here. I’ll update this to point to the piwik website when they have a release up that works. For some reason they don’t have a release archive that I could find.
So what’s good about piwik? Well compared to what, Google analytics, or other website analytics tools? This is a fundamental question, because if you are using GA just for the web stats piece, or are using some other static logfile analysis tool, piwik is well worth reviewing.
In comparison to Google Analytics
- You own the data (Google Analytics now has an API, and so that may ease some of the concern regarding controlling your data)
- You have access to the source
- You don’t have to worry about the Terms of Service that Google imposes (here’s a good overview of the Analytics TOS)
The downside is
- you have to maintain another server/database, etc. I imagine that someone will offer piwik via SAAS sometime soon, though I couldn’t find anyone doing that right now.
- it’s a beta product and is not as mature as Google Analytics, as evidenced by the 0.4.2 issue above
- some key GA features are missing (goals, funnels, etc).
In comparison to the other website analytics tools I’ve used, AWstats (which I’ve written about before and is open source) and wusage (not open source, but free with my hosting contract), piwik has
- a slick user interface
- click outs easier to track
- easier configuration
The downside is:
- not as stable and mature
- possible missing features (Wusage has a ton of configuration options that have no analog in piwik)
This is obviously not intended to be a full, detailed analysis of all the differences between these tools, but I think that piwik has a lot of promise. They have a roadmap full of planned features but they definitely aren’t yet an alternative to Google Analytics for anyone who uses some of the more advanced features of that product. Funnels, the click overlay or goals, are all unsupported in piwik as of this version. In the forums, I saw several requests for such richer analysis tools, and in the roadmap I saw a goal tracking plugin as a blocker for version 1.0, so the team is aware of the lack.
When browsing around doing research for this post, I saw a post (sorry, couldn’t find it again) about how piwik features would be developed for smaller websites because it’s an open-source alternative, but I believe that the support of openX (an ad server company that I wrote about in the past), who is funding at least one of the developers, will prevent such feature capture. In addition, I find that open source projects that have an existing project to model themselves on (like GA), tend to try to reach feature parity. If piwik continues on its current valid path of replicating Google Analytics features, then I think it will live up to its aim.
Update, 7/31: A friend pointed out this broad survey of the current state of free (as in beer) web analytics options