Why you should consider using an open source web analytics tool

Plausible is a simple and privacy-friendly website analytics tool. One aspect that makes Plausible different from many of the other web analytics tools such as Google Analytics is the fact that Plausible is fully open-source software. Let’s take a look at what that means exactly.

  1. What is web analytics?
  2. What does it mean for web analytics to be open source?
  3. What license is Plausible released under?
  4. Can Plausible be self-hosted?
  5. Plausible is open in other ways too
    1. 1. Open to community feedback with a public roadmap
    2. 2. You can open your website analytics and make the stats publicly-viewable too
  6. Is Google Analytics open source too?
  7. What are the other ways that Plausible is different from Google Analytics?
  8. Why is Plausible not free as in free beer?
  9. How to switch from Google Analytics to an open source analytics alternative

What is web analytics?

Web analytics is the process of measuring and analyzing the usage of a website. With Plausible activated on your website, you get access to a simple open source analytics dashboard.

This simple dashboard includes website metrics such as the number of unique visitors to your site, the number of page views on your individual pages and the referral sources which have sent traffic to your site.

All this data you can use to assess the performance of your site and to figure out what you can do to improve your future efforts.

What does it mean for web analytics to be open source?

Being open source means that our source code is available and accessible on GitHub so anyone can check it out. You can read it, inspect it and review it to understand how it works and to ensure it keeps the data private and secure.

This gives you and everyone else full transparency on how we handle the website traffic data. It is this transparency and openness that means that open source products can be more trustworthy than proprietary and closed source products.

What license is Plausible released under?

Plausible is open-source under the most permissive Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) license. This means that there are no restrictions on redistributing, modifying or using Plausible software for any reason. You can take it and use it any way that you wish. The MIT license states:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Can Plausible be self-hosted?

Yes, but at the moment we don’t provide support for easily self-hosting the code. Currently, the main purpose of keeping the code open-source is to be transparent with the community about how we collect and process website usage data.

Plausible product is being developed very actively by a small independent team. It would take a lot of work to make it easy and simple to self-host and to document it all. At this stage, this would result in a dramatic slow down in the development of the product itself.

For these reasons, we have decided to open-source Plausible and those who are familiar with the technologies we use can self-host it. Plausible is a standard Elixir/Phoenix application backed by a PostgreSQL database. Our current focus is on improving the product and providing a hosted version for site owners who want a ready-made solution in the cloud.

Making Plausible easy to self-host, providing full documentation and support for the process is something we can see happening in the future but it is not of immediate priority for us.

Plausible is open in other ways too

1. Open to community feedback with a public roadmap

We welcome feedback from our community. We have a public roadmap driven by the features suggested by the community members and we are available to you via email or GitHub if you have any questions or need any help.

2. You can open your website analytics and make the stats publicly-viewable too

Plausible gives you the option to be transparent and open your web analytics to everyone. Your website stats are private by default but you can choose to make them public so anyone with your custom link can view them. You can view stats for Plausible website itself here.

Is Google Analytics open source too?

No, Google Analytics is not open source. Google Analytics is a closed source, proprietary product. There’s simply no way of knowing what’s going on behind the scenes when you’re using the Google Analytics script on your website. You have to put your trust in Google.

What are the other ways that Plausible is different from Google Analytics?

Other than Plausible being open source while Google Analytics being closed source, there are many other ways that these two site analytics products differ:

  1. Plausible is more simple to use as it tracks a smaller number of metrics and presents them on an easier to understand dashboard. Rather than tracking every metric imaginable, many of them that you will never find a use for, Plausible Analytics focuses on the most essential stats only.
  2. Plausible Analytics is lightweight. Our script is a small script that is lighter and faster to load so you will reduce the page weight of your site compared to when using Google Analytics. Our script is 17 times smaller than the Google Analytics script and 45 times smaller than the recommended Google Analytics integration using the Google Tag Manager.
  3. Plausible doesn’t use cookies and doesn’t track nor collect any personal data. This means that we are compliant with the cookie law and other privacy regulations out of the box. There is no need for you to include GDPR, CCPA and other consent prompts nor to have a privacy policy because of the Plausible analytics.

For further details on the differences between the two, take a look at our Plausible vs Google Analytics comparison.

Why is Plausible not free as in free beer?

Plausible is an independently owned and actively developed project. To keep the project development going, to stay in business, to continue putting effort into building a better product and to cover our costs, we need to charge a fee.

Google Analytics is free because Google has built their company and their wealth by collecting and analyzing huge amounts of personal information from web users and using these personal and behavioral insights to sell advertisements.

Plausible has no part in that business model. No personal data is being collected and analyzed either. With Plausible, you 100% own and control all of your website data. This data is not being shared with or sold to any third-parties.

We choose the subscription business model rather than the business model of surveillance capitalism.

How to switch from Google Analytics to an open source analytics alternative

Do you have a website or a blog? Give Plausible a chance.

Sign up for a 30-day unlimited-use free trial with no obligations and explore our open source site analytics dashboard. You don’t even need to remove your current analytics provider until you’ve tested Plausible and figured out if you like our product.

Plausible is simple to set up and integrate into your website no matter which CMS you use or how you’ve built your site. You simply insert our one-line JavaScript snippet into the <head> section of the pages you’d like to keep an eye on and the numbers will start rolling in.

Ready to dive in?
Start your free trial today.

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