by Bill Heil
30 June 2010
Familiarity with Flex, ActionScript 3.0, and Omniture SiteCatalyst tracking in Flash and Flex environments will be helpful.
The Adobe Flash Builder 4 and Omniture SiteCatalyst teams are proud to announce the release of a powerful new tool in analytics development―the SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Builder 4. The extension enables SiteCatalyst and Flex developers to quickly and visually instrument tracking in Flex applications, and introduces a framework to SiteCatalyst tracking that analytics developers will welcome.
The SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Builder 4 is just one of a series of extensions introduced to help Adobe Flash Platform designers and developers better integrate analytics into their existing workflows. With Creative Suite 5, Adobe introduced the SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Professional CS5, along with the Test&Target Extensions for Flash Professional CS5 and Dreamweaver CS5.
Omniture SiteCatalyst provides marketers with actionable, real-time intelligence about online strategies and marketing initiatives. SiteCatalyst helps marketers quickly identify the most profitable paths through their Web site, determine where visitors are navigating away from their site, and identify critical success metrics for online marketing campaigns. SiteCatalyst is part of the Omniture Digital Marketing Suite of applications for online business optimizations.
In this article you'll learn about SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Builder 4 features, and see some of the power that Adobe is bringing to analytics development in Flex applications.
Currently, Flash and Flex applications that use SiteCatalyst incorporate Omniture's App Measurement (formerly known as ActionSource) libraries. Analytics developers have employed a variety of measures to build a repeatable, development-friendly process around these libraries.
The SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Builder gives developers a simple, powerful framework for creating reusable analytics libraries. The analytics framework remaps proprietary variable names in SiteCatalyst, allowing developers to use properties such as
eVar31, for example. Moreover, analytics developers can specify which variables are required to track, so that developers receiving the analytics library know exactly which SiteCatalyst variables need to be tracked in an application.
The framework consists of two simple MXML components:
- The Service Component: encapsulates communication to the SiteCatalyst service.
- The Tracker Component: ties a Flex component / Event pair to a Service component.
Because tracking components are based on a declarative language (MXML), they are easy for Flex developers to create and manage. Of course, the tracking library can also be used in ActionScript-only classes as well.
Creating SiteCatalyst libraries
To aid developers in creating SiteCatalyst libraries, the SiteCatalyst Extension includes an Adobe AIR application that guides analytics developers using Flash Builder 4 or Flash Professional CS5 as they create analytics libraries (see Figure 1). This application downloads relevant SiteCatalyst management data from a developer's account, and guides the developer through customizing the SiteCatalyst library. Once created, the Flex developer will have a new Flex Library project (and SWC) that can be imported into Flex applications. The Flex Library project can also be customized, enabling analytics developers to build additional business logic into their analytics libraries.
Figure 1. An Adobe AIR application for creating SiteCatalyst tracking libraries
This AIR application is also included with the SiteCatalyst Extension for Flash Professional CS5. Libraries created through the AIR application are compatible with either product, making it ideal for analytics developers who are creating or customizing libraries to work with many downstream developers and designers.
Analytics productivity―visual instrumentation and code hinting
Developer productivity is one of the key advantages of Flash Builder 4, for Flex and ActionScript developers alike. To aid developers in managing SiteCatalyst tracking, Adobe has introduced a SiteCatalyst panel to Flash Builder. This panel enables developers to view and manage tracking in one location (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. The SiteCatalyst panel in Flash Builder.
You can also trigger SiteCatalyst tracking via Design View. To add a Tracker component to a Spark Button component, for example, you simply context-click the button in Design View and select Create SiteCatalyst Tracker Object -- and the appropriate tracking component is created.
The SiteCatalyst library also enables developers to take advantage of the code hinting functionality in Flash Builder 4. When specifying properties of a service or tracker object, developers receive hinting about SiteCatalyst-specific properties, or properties that are required to track the custom application.
Tracking success events and products
Finally, the SiteCatalyst Extension brings a simple, declarative framework for managing SiteCatalyst success events, which measure when visitors perform an action within an application. Developers can add success event tracking to Flex applications in the same declarative fashion that they use to manage Service and Tracker components. In Flash Builder, you can now manage the creation of SiteCatalyst success events and products via a panel, or through MXML.