Big Brother is a popular extra that lets you add a Google Analytics widget to your MODX dashboard. Big Brother needs rewriting to support the new version of Google Analytics and MODX3. We're crowdfunding to make Big Brother 2 a reality.
Since 2011, Big Brother has provided you an insight into your website's statistics by displaying Google Analytics data on the MODX dashboard.
We've maintained Big Brother since 2015 and now we need your help to rebuild Big Brother to support the new Google Analytics 4 and MODX3.
You can help bring this project to reality by making a pledge from as little as €10.
The new version of Google Analytics comes with a new API and data model. This means all API interactions – from authorization to rendering – need to be rewritten.
Legacy code needs replacing to ensure full support with MODX3. Big Brother 2 will also take advantage of new dashboard features in MODX3, while still supporting MODX 2.8.
We're simplifying the design to give you a more focused look at your sites' performance. The stretch goals also give new per-page insights not seen before.
While we love open source and giving back where we can, a project of this size requires more time and attention than we can realistically allow under our "open source allowance". By crowdfunding this project, we can reserve more time from our team to work on a new and improved version of Big Brother. It also means Big Brother will remain as a free extra.
The crowdfunding goal is €5000, of which we're covering €1500 ourselves. That will cover the full rebuild with support for GA4 and MODX3, and reserves some time for future work and maintenance. As the API for the new Google Analytics is still in early beta, we expect some work will be needed after release to keep up with breaking changes.
Work will start as soon as we have at least €4000 pledged, and the crowdfunding will stay open until v2 is released. We expect to need about 6 weeks to complete the work, so if we hit that goal this week a feature-complete beta version will be available end of June. We will communicate progress with all backers regularly.
We also have stretch goals to add more amazing features like per-resource analytics (more on that below). If we hit the higher end of the stretch goals (€8.5k+), the project will take longer as we build those additional features. We're planning to release alpha versions roughly every other week, so you'll have to access to those features as soon as they're ready.
The base goal covers rebuilding Big Brother from scratch. From authentication to retrieving data from Google Analytics, changing the build to support a release from the modmore provider and installation on MODX3.
The sketch on the right shows the main widget, which includes:
Note that Big Brother v1 has a separate "Full Report" with some more charts and data. That's not returning in v2, rather we're getting the most relevant information onto the dashboard.€3500 until goal is met
Stretch goal 1
One of the great things about MODX3 is that the dashboard is much more easily customised and user-specific. If we reach €6500, we'll break up the main widget into several smaller widgets that you can add and resize individually:
In MODX 2.x, these widgets will use a standard size.
We may add more widgets – suggestions are most welcome.€5000 until goal is met
Stretch goal 2
By default the charts and metrics will cover a 28-day period, and will be compared to the 28-day period before that. (28 days = 4 full weeks, to make sure weekends are compared against weekends in charts).
At the €7500 stretch goal, we'll add a period selector that will let you choose what period to show metrics for, allowing you to switch between a week, month, quarter or year worth of data. The period selector will only be added to the main widget and the individual visits chart widget to keep the interface clean, but when changing the period it will also affect all other individual widgets.€6000 until goal is met
Stretch goal 3
At the €8500 stretch goal we'll add a widget showing the current visitors on the site. This will refresh automatically every minute.
Hitting this stretch goal will delay feature-complete release to roughly mid July.€7000 until goal is met
Stretch goal 4
If we double the original goal, we'll bring Google Analytics to individual resources. Each published resource will get a compact block of statistics below the content panel, covering:
Hitting this stretch goal will delay feature-complete release to roughly the end of July.€8500 until goal is met
Stretch goal 5
At €12500 we'll extend the per-resource statistics to a full tab. You can enable/disable the statistics block and tab to only show the one you prefer. On top of what's in the statistics block, the separate tab will cover the following metrics specific to the current (published) resource:
Hitting this stretch goal will delay feature-complete release to roughly mid August.€11000 until goal is met
Hopefully this wont happen, but it's a fair question.
If we don't hit the primary goal of €5.000, we'll still work on Big Brother v2 but will need to spread out the work over a longer period of time to make sure the work is paid for by our normal "open source allowance", basically a portion of the license sales of our premium extras dedicated to our open source projects. For example if we only get half of the funding we're looking for, it might take twice as long to complete.
Universal Analytics is the version of Google Analytics pre-2020/2021. It's easily recognised by the property key, which starts with "UA-".
Google Analytics 4 is the new version, which has been rolling out since 2020, but has been gaining more steam in 2021 which is why we're now looking to release Big Brother v2 sooner rather than later. Its property keys do not have a prefix, but are numeric.
A single account in Google Analytics can support both types of properties, so the property key is the best way to identify the type of property. It's still possible to create Universal Analytic properties at the time of writing, but that is hidden behind an advanced options toggle, so new properties default to GA4.
Big Brother v1 will remain supported and maintained for 2 years after v2 is released. It will however not receive support for MODX3. After two years we'll consider it end-of-life and do not expect any new releases to be made.
During the development of v2, you'll find regular alpha releases in our own package provider. The first alpha will likely be available around the end of May.
Once Big Brother 2 is stable, it will replace Big Brother v1 on the MODX extras site / package manager. We've also already released v1 on our own package provider, which allows you to choose which version to download.
So to summarize the situation after the v2 release:
At the moment we've already made plans and confirmed availability to deliver on the promises made in the crowdfunding campaign.
But if you're a developer with the skills needed to build Big Brother v2, we'd love to hear from you so we can keep you in mind should there be unforeseen circumstances that cause a delay which some extra help may resolve.
As we'll do the work in the open source repository (2.x branch), you're of course also welcome to contribute pull requests but there are no bounties available as we are expecting to build it in-house.
We totally get you may want to wait until the project is done to see what it's worth to you. However, we also need to pay our team for the work they're going to do and need some assurances to make the feasible.
So if you can, we ask that you use the crowdfunding page to donate up-front.
For agencies that would like to make a larger contribution (€1000+), we do offer the option to pay 25% upfront, and the remainder when Big Brother 2 is feature complete. This requires signing a contract committing you to the final payment and is only available if your company has been in good financial standing with modmore in the past year. Please get in touch to discuss this possibility.
Murray has reserved 2 days/week on Big Brother for May and June (on top of the 1-2 days/week he's currently working on Commerce so that work can continue), and Mark is reserving up to 4 hours/week out of his full-time schedule to help.
Ahead of launching the crowdfunding campaign, Mark has also been preparing for the project by writing up a spec and verifying what we're trying to accomplish is technically possible in MODX and the Google Analytics 4 API. Work on the authorization is also in progress and expected to complete before the May 10th date, so Murray can hit the ground running building cool widgets as soon as the funding is confirmed.
No worries – get in touch and we'll answer as soon as we can.
With Excelidraw - worth checking out!
One can dream!
We have some ideas on additional metrics and widgets we could implement if we exceed even the most lofty goal of €12.500. We'll also generally improve Big Brother by spending more time fine-tuning the design and charts.
Additional ideas are also welcome via [email protected] What more would you like to see on your dashboard that isn't already covered in our current plan?
There's very little risk in this campaign. modmore is financially healthy (has been for many years), and is not going belly-up right after you help fund this project.
We also have a reputation in the community to uphold and if this model of crowdfunding for bigger projects turns out to be worthwhile, it's something we may want to do again in the future for our own projects or work on MODX itself. So we're definitely going to do everything we can to get Big Brother 2 released on time and according to plan to earn your future trust.
In terms of scope and functionality, we've done all we can ahead of the crowdfunding launch to make sure the features we're promising are technically possible within MODX and the Google Analytics API.
The biggest risk in this campaign is that we underestimated the work and it takes longer to complete then planned, or something bad happens to the individual people on our team causing the project to come to an unexpected pause. Thanks to your help with funding the project, these risks will be reduced as we can try to find someone else to step in to help.
There's also a risk that we don't hit the primary funding goal. In that case we'll have to make a decision on how to move forward, depending on how much funding we did receive. That might mean modmore takes a loss on the project, that we trim the scope, or that we drop the timeline we've promised entirely and develop it during our normal open source allowance. This last option would mean it takes much longer to get done, and also comes at the cost of having less time available for MODX and other open source projects we regularly contribute to.
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