We at Leftronic are big fans of football, especially of our home team, the 49ers. We were a bit disappointed to see them get eliminated from the Super Bowl (damn refs!) but we’re still excited to see the Seahawks and Broncos face off this upcoming Sunday. The office is rooting for the Seahawks, because West Coast Represent, but we do have a Broncos fan in our midst. We feel our business dashboards are also a great way to aggregate lots of information about upcoming trends and events, so we’re excited to launch our Trendboards. We will feature a dashboard about a hot, trending topic about once a week, giving you metadata about the trend’s popularity, Twitter searches, and more. This week’s Trendboard features the aforementioned Super Bowl. We’ve aggregated a news RSS feed, a countdown to the event, Twitter mentions, as well as some interesting predictions about the over/under and spread for the big game! If you want to create your own Trendboard, you can sign up for a free trial. Our easy-to-use custom API, integrations, and HTML widgets will connect you to many sources. Let us know if you’ve created anything cool and we’ll feature it here. Also, if you have any ideas for a topic that could be summarized with our data visualization dashboards, please shoot us a note! Note: we are not associated or affiliated with the NFL or any sports organization. We are merely fans of data visualization and football =)
Starting today you can add metrics from Compete, Meetup, and RescueTime to your business dashboard! Compete: Compete helps optimize your digital marketing, business development, media planning and competitive strategy. Use Compete and a Leftronic dashboard to monitor latest rank, latest daily attention, latest unique visitor count, latest visits count, latest page views count, latest average stay, latest visits per person, latest pages per visit, and latest attention. Meetup: Meetup helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world. With our Meetup integration it’s a snap to see group size, group rating, pending members, and even see the photo for your group. RescueTime: RescueTime is a personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive. Our easy to use integration allows you to monitor category data, activity data, and member efficiency data. More Services: Interested in pairing any of these great products with the other services you already use? Check out our extensive list of available integrations that are ready to go today! After you’re done checking out all the awesome services we can pull data from, sign up for a free trial and get started with making your company data-driven.
Good news for everybody interesting in monitoring KPIs from Marketo on your business dashboard – this service is now available as a native data source! Marketo: Marketo is a cloud-based marketing software platform. Using a Marketo marketing dashboard you can easily track email statistics (CTR, opens, unsubscribes, …), changes to lead records, lead database size, lead status, lead attributes, opportunities, opportunity status, opportunity value ($), map lead activities, and Salesforce campaign values. If you already use Marketo our integration is a great addition to help monitor your campaigns. Free Trial: As always, our free trial requires no credit card so get started monitoring your important metrics today.
Dealing with 3rd party APIs can be temperamental, and no two of them are exactly alike. At Leftronic, we take pride in our ability to delve into their secrets and get the most out of them for our integrations. However, over the years there have been some APIs that have brought fists smashing into keyboards, and cold shivers shooting down spines from the mere mention of their names. Join us as we share with you 5 of the most memorable API fails (in no particular order). Some of the names listed may surprise you, as you might love their services (hey, we do too!). But for one reason or another, deficiencies in a key aspect of API qualities (speed, data integrity, easy of use, documentation, power, and openness) have caused tears of frustration and great gnashing of teeth in the halls of Leftronic. Magento Magento is a popular (used on an estimated ~1% of all websites) eCommerce web application that hosts your online store and handles your payments. It’s popular because it’s straightforward and powerful. However, dealing with their API was anything but. One problem was that their REST API was erratic and gave inconsistent output with the various sets of filters that we tried. But the biggest sin and what ultimately killed it for us was the incredible permissions gymnastics users were required just to access their data. Users must: - Add new roles, permissions, and users through their internally installed Magento app. - Submit: Consumer Key, Consumer Secret, and the 3 OAuth URLs. - Make 2 modifications to the Magento .php code due to bugs in the Magento core. - Expose these URLs on the web server hosting Magento. All of these steps require someone with a deep understanding of the Magento system, typically the administrator who set up the company’s installation. And you thought OAuth was one-click. Google Analytics It may be surprising to find Google Analytics listed here, as their API is very powerful, fast, and robust. However, there is a glaring flaw. Here’s a scenario for you: You have a highly trafficked site (>100,000s/day) and you want to monitor this traffic by the hour so you fire up an API call for visitors using ga:hour as the dimension. Pretty simple right? Wrong! You are greeted with a string of 0s for every hour. The root of the problem is that GA data sometimes lags, so somehow they thought passing zeros was better than no data. This would probably be OK if the lag was a few seconds, but no, it can be up to 48 hours! As you can imagine, this was a huge problem for our customers and we had to rework our entire backend to allow data to auto-correct itself backwards in time, so that the right data would show up eventually for a user. Eventually. The kicker is that they are not the only ones who think this is a good solution as Facebook recently seems to have made an unannounced change where some of their insights metrics return 0s for data not yet collected. Bonus flaw: This isn’t value killing as the other one but like the whine of a dental drill, is annoying to no end. It is impossible to change your GA timezone if your account is tied to Adwords at all — yes, impossible. This is why our whole development team is going bald in their 20’s. KISSmetrics KISSmetrics is a powerful web analytics app that allows a company to dig deep into their customers’ interactions with their website. They are incredibly data-centric and their blog offers daily insights for the data-driven community. Which is why it’s bonkers that they have no API at all, at least not in the traditional sense. Their event collection API is their bread-and-butter and so they have a very capable one, but in order to extract information from their outbound API, these are the steps that need to be done: - Create an AWS account, a data bucket in S3, and give Kissmetrics access to it. - Access your bucket, which will only have data up to the previous day - Get a massive .csv file for each day containing all your events - ??? - Profit? Even then, there can be events from a previous or next day in each file, so multiple files must be parsed. Writing a robust integration that allows the user to filter data and view it in real time is quite challenging, given these limitations. We understand that not every company has a contract to create an external API, but as Winston Churchill must have put it, “OMG!”, that data’s just sitting there for Pete’s sake! Salesforce The Salesforce API is actually fairly simple as it pretty much revolves around SOQL, a SQL-like query language they use for their Salesforce objects. This allows lots of simple queries that can fetch tons of data from various datasets – if only the documentation cooperated. And that’s where the problem starts. The main doc page literally still uses frame tags, which aren’t even supported in HTML5 anymore. How do you obtain column metadata for a SOQL call? Figure it out from looking at the HTTP requests in their Apex explorer (hint: use ?columns=true as a query parameter). But don’t rely on this undocumented parameter, as it’s subject to be removed at any time as the API versions update. Why is this column metadata useful? Well, column metadata just tells us the relationships that columns have to each other, you know, the entire point of a SQL database. We had to try many different types of queries to figure out what the different fields in the response mean, as well as employ the code-breaking services of Lawrence Waterhouse, as we cannot find any documentation on these fields. At least our custom Salesforce widgets are pretty robust now. Update: There’s a “tooling API” that’s releasing soon that can get us this information. However, it is not at all clear whether it [...]
We have a pretty complex infrastructure here at Leftronic. During a recent migration to Azure, we actually mapped it out on a whiteboard to see what it actually takes to deliver your business dashboards to you and we were shocked by its complexity. It looked a little something like this*: We then erased it from the whiteboard and tried again. Our system right now consists of almost 50 virtual machines, including proxies, queues, workers, database machines, a real-time socket.io server, and various test and logging servers. It becomes very important to keep all of these servers up to keep your dashboards running, and at Leftronic we are proponents of dogfooding your own product. We have made several internal dashboards that show the status of all of these servers, showing all sorts of metrics, for example: - RabbitMQ message queue count - API push latency - Redis memory usage - Average execution time of data integrations by API - Number of connected sockets - Load for our web and worker machines This is an example view tracking Celery and RabbitMQ messages: Using the wrench icons for each widget, we can look back up to a year in time to see how frequently certain events happen or to cross-check logs for any similar events. We have algorithms that progressively down-sample line graph data with more than a certain number of points, so that interesting peaks and valleys can remain in your graphs up to a year back in time. This makes it so that you don’t have to send us all your data every time, only your most recent points. This is shown in the following picture. Our custom API makes it very simple to send us data points frequently. Simply do the following (in Python, there are examples for other languages in the API page): from leftronic import Leftronic number = INTERESTING_NUMBER update = Leftronic('API_KEY') update.pushNumber('stream_name', number) This can, for example, be tied to a cronjob that runs once a minute and your data will be stored for your analysis for a year. Fetching these numbers can be very simple as well. Suppose you want to track the number of concurrent connections to your MySQL database: from leftronic import Leftronic import MySQLdb accessKey = 'ACCESS_KEY_HERE' multipush =  def MySQLMonitor(): conn = MySQLdb.connect(host=HOST_NAME, user=USER_NAME, passwd=PASSWORD, db=DB) cursor = conn.cursor() cursor.execute('show status where variable_name = \'Threads_connected\';') row = cursor.fetchone() multipush.append(lefty_update.populateNumber( 'sqlthreadsconnected', int(row))) multipush.append(...) # More interesting stuff here, you can push multiple metrics at once. lefty_update.pushMultiple(multipush) Very simple! And running this once every minute or so gives you a real-time graph of your database. As the Leftronic API and business dashboards are real-time, you can immediately see if something goes wrong. People tend to very quickly notice patterns in graphs, and combined with our other widget types such as stoplights, dials, text feeds, and others, you have constant situational awareness of your server stack or infrastructure. Having these dashboards on a big screen in your office will also alert your team if you happen to step out. Even for folks who are not focused on technology, they can make sense of our easy-to-read widgets. Our marketing head, for example, recently called me during lunch to tell me our AWS dashboard (which tracks a few legacy machines we still have on AWS) was showing a persistent CPU spike for one of the servers. We quickly narrowed down the problem to an errant script (hey, it’s a legacy system ) and a reboot fixed the issue. We often look at these ops dashboards to see how our app is doing, and dogfooding helps us to figure out what extra features we would like to the app. For example, we recently added an Alerts feature (available to everyone via the gear icon near the top of your dashboard config) that will send us an email if any of the metrics we track goes above (or below) a certain threshold. Using Leftronic dashboards for your DevOps team will keep everyone constantly aware of the state of your business’s infrastructure and backend. We ourselves constantly use it to make sure your dashboards are delivered without a hitch =) * Don’t worry, we take the utmost precautions to keep your data safe from the NSA (or any other prying eyes). All of our traffic goes through VPNs, API/OAuth keys and SSL keys are encrypted with keyczar, and you can optionally encrypt your custom API data with client-side only AES encryption if you wish.
We’re pleased to now offer Mailjet, Pipedrive, and Twilio as data sources for your real-time analytics dashboard. Start tracking these with metrics from the 50+ other services we integrate with today. And, as always, it is simple to setup dashboard widgets, change their size and location, and customize how they look. Mailjet: Mailjet is a real-time cloud emailing platform. Trackable metrics include total emails, total campaigns, average opened rate, emails blocked, emails bounced, total unsubscribes, total email opens, total email clicks, clicks per delivered rate, clicks per opened rate, emails delivered, and emails queued. Pipedrive: Pipedrive is sales pipeline software that gets you organized. With our native integration you can quickly start monitoring deals search, deals by stage, and goals. Twilio: Twilio lets you use standard web languages to build voice, VoIP and SMS applications via a web API. Add it to your dashboard and you can track recording count and messages count.
Do you monitor your site using Monitive, Server Density, or StatusCake? Then give our monitoring dashboards a try. These server and site tracking services are just a few of the many services that we have available. Monitive: Monitive tracks site uptime monitoring service for websites. The Monitive integration gives you a server summary table that details the site availability, latency, and test status on a per test basis. Server Density: Server Density helps monitor your servers and websites. With a view into triggered alerts, service status, devices count, and services count our native integration allows you to keep watch on all your important metrics in one place. StatusCake: StatusCake is a real user monitoring service that enables you to see and understand how visitors to your website find the user experience. Add metrics for tests overview, alerts, and the latest load time to your business dashboard. As always, we’re hard at work adding new service to our list of integrations, so stay tuned.
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