Rafael Sanches

June 13, 2011

Google Analytics lags on Android. How to make it more responsive!

Filed under: analytics, android, maintainability, performance — Tags: , , , — mufumbo @ 5:55 am

Google Analytics can be your best friend in order to track your mobile user behavior. Unfortunately the current Android implementation has performance limitations and the most problematic is that it uses SQLite to store your events.

Everyone who wants to write a responsive app knows that you can’t do SQLite operations in the UI Thread. Having to wrap the Google Analytics calls into a separated thread can be painful, so I wrote a very simple helper to handle it inside threads. I have many tracking events inside “button click” and it was taking about 200ms to execute, it’s too much on the UI Thread. It’s also too much if you have “onCreate” because it will take long time to open your new activity.

This helper is also very wrong because it maintains a static reference to the context. I do this in order to have better numbers on visit and “time on site”. You can just remove the static reference if you don’t like that.

Notice that my implementation has this: “Thread.sleep(3000);”
It means that I don’t want repetitive Google Analytics SQLite to be competing with my app inserts or gets.

This LAG happens because SQLite uses the internal memory which can be very slow depending on many factors, including concurrent SQLite operations or just internal memory without many space.

I hope it helps someone. Here’s the complete code:

package com.mufumbo.android.helper;

import java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService;
import java.util.concurrent.Executors;

import android.content.Context;
import android.util.Log;

import com.google.android.apps.analytics.GoogleAnalyticsTracker;

public class GAHelper {
    String activity;
    static GoogleAnalyticsTracker tracker;
    static int instanceCount = 0;
    long start;

    // Limit the number of events due to outofmemory exceptions of analytics sdk
    final static int MAX_EVENTS_BEFORE_DISPATCH = 200;
    static int eventCount = 0;

    static final ExecutorService tpe = Executors.newSingleThreadExecutor();

    public GAHelper(final Context c, final String activity) {
        this.activity = activity;
        instanceCount++;
        if (tracker == null) {
            tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
                @Override
                public void run() {
                    tracker = GoogleAnalyticsTracker.getInstance();
                    tracker.start(Constants.GOOGLE_ANALYTICS_ID, Constants.GOOGLE_ANALYTICS_DELAY, c.getApplicationContext());
                }
            });
        }
    }

    public void onResume() {
        this.trackPageView("/"+this.activity);
    }

    public synchronized void destroy () {
        instanceCount--;
        if (instanceCount <= 0) {
            tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
                @Override
                public void run() {
                    Log.i(Constants.TAG, "destroying GA");
                    if (tracker != null)
                        tracker.stop();
                    instanceCount = 0;
                }
            });
        }
    }

    protected void tick() throws InterruptedException {
        Thread.sleep(3000);
        this.start = System.currentTimeMillis();
    }

    public void log (final String l) {
        if (Dbg.IS_DEBUG) {
            Dbg.debug("['"+(System.currentTimeMillis()-start)+"']["+eventCount+"] Logging on '"+this.activity+"': "+l);
            if (l.contains(" ")) {
                Log.e(Constants.TAG, "DO NOT TRACK WITH SPACES: "+l, new Exception());
            }
        }

    }

    public void trackClick(final String button) {
        checkDispatch();
        tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
            @Override
            public void run() {
                try {
                    tick();
                    tracker.trackEvent(
                            "clicks",  // Category
                            activity+"-button",  // Action
                            button, // Label
                            1);
                    log("trackClick:"+button);
                } catch (final Exception e) {
                    Log.e(Constants.TAG, "Error tracking", e);
                }
            }
        });
    }

    public void trackEvent (final String category, final String action, final String label, final int count) {
        checkDispatch();
        tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
            @Override
            public void run() {
                try {
                    tick();
                    tracker.trackEvent(
                            category,  // Category
                            action,  // Action
                            activity+"-"+label, // Label
                            1);
                    log("trackEvent:"+category + "#"+action+"#"+label+"#"+count);
                } catch (final Exception e) {
                    Log.e(Constants.TAG, "Error tracking", e);
                }
            }
        });
    }

    public void trackPopupView (final String popup) {
        checkDispatch();
        tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
            @Override
            public void run() {
                try {
                    tick();
                    final String page = "/"+activity+"/"+popup;
                    tracker.trackPageView(page);
                    log("trackPageView:"+page);
                } catch (final Exception e) {
                    Log.e(Constants.TAG, "Error tracking", e);
                }
            }
        });
    }

    public void trackPageView (final String page) {
        checkDispatch();
        tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
            @Override
            public void run() {
                try {
                    tick();
                    tracker.trackPageView(page);
                    log("trackPageView:"+page);
                } catch (final Exception e) {
                    Log.e(Constants.TAG, "Error tracking", e);
                }
            }
        });
    }

    public void checkDispatch() {
        eventCount++;
        if (eventCount >= MAX_EVENTS_BEFORE_DISPATCH)
            dispatch();
    }

    public void dispatch(){
        eventCount = 0;
        tpe.submit(new Runnable() {
            @Override
            public void run() {
                try {
                    tick();
                    tracker.dispatch();
                    log("dispatched");
                } catch (final Exception e) {
                    Log.e(Constants.TAG, "Error dispatching", e);
                }
            }
        });
    }
}
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September 17, 2009

My first public android app – craigslist notification


logo

This application alert the users when new stuff is posted to craigslist. In this way they can get the best deals as soon as they are registered.

The application is totally free and doesn’t use ads either in current or future versions. There is no form of monetization associated with this application. I am using my new server that i am renting from hetzner.
The application does not require registration and does not store information about its usage on the server.

Features

  • Enable the user to create notifications for certain keywords;
  • Allow to have all filtering that craigslist.org has;
  • Has all cities that craigslist.org has;
  • Preferences menu for configuring the location and network options;
  • Mark posts as favorite to read at a later time;
  • The relevant posts are downloaded on the phone, so they can be read later without network;
  • Faster navigation, since relevant posts are downloaded in batch;

Technical details

  • It periodically checks for new posts;
  • In each check it download *only* the updated data, which should be
    small after the initial download;
  • If no update is available it does not download anything at all. This proves to use less bandwidth than a normal navigation app, since:
    • Only relevant data is downloaded;
    • It never download duplicated data two times;
    • It’s not like RSS feeds that it’s the phone downloading and pooling the feeds every time.
      The phone only donwload the updated data one and do it just one time.

Bandwidth usage

  • For example, a download of 100 new posts takes 50kb of
    internet bandwidth.
  • The daily bandwidth will depend on the number of
    notifications that you are monitoring and the number of times that
    your notifications get updated.
  • To reduce bandwidth, try to be specific in your notifications.
  • For example: try to use “honda civic” instead of “car”

Screenshots

  • Main screen – notification list

    Main screen. This is where your notifications are listed:

  • Posts listing

    When you click on one notification, you go to the post listing.

    Notice that you can edit the previously configured notification by clicking on this menu item.

  • Post detail

    Once you click on one post you will see this screen which displays the post details.

    You are not required to be connected to the network to see the already downloaded posts.

    Notice that you can mark posts as favorite to read them later. The favorite page is accessed from the main menu.

  • Notification

    When there are new posts the app displays a notification on your phone. This can be disabled in the preferences.

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