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Configuring how events are sent

It's possible to add a fine-grained configuration for exactly how the web tracker should track and send events.

Configuring the request‚Äč

Base64 encoding‚Äč

By default, context entities and custom self-describing events are encoded into Base64 to ensure that no data is lost or corrupted. You can turn encoding on or off using the encodeBase64 field of the tracker configuration object.

Number of events per request‚Äč

The default bufferSize is 1, i.e. an event will be processed into a single request and sent as soon as it is tracked. This can be increased to send events in batches, using the configuration object.

The bufferSize property is only relevant when making POST requests, see below.

Maximum payload size‚Äč

POST requests

Because the Snowplow Stream Collector can have a maximum request size, the Tracker limits POST requests to 40000 bytes. If the combined size of the events in localStorage is greater than this limit, they will be split into multiple POST requests. You can override this default using a maxPostBytes in the configuration object.

GET requests

By default, there is no limit on the maximum size of GET requests ‚Äď the tracker will add to queue and try to emit all GET requests irrespective of their size. However (since version 3.4), there is an optional¬†maxGetBytes¬†parameter which serves two purposes:

  1. It prevents requests over the threshold in bytes to be added to event queue and retried in case sending them is not successful.
  2. It sends events over the threshold as individual POST requests (same as for maxPostBytes).

The size of GET requests is calculated for their full GET request URL.

Collector limit

The Snowplow Stream Collector cannot process requests bigger than 1MB because that is the maximum size of a Kinesis record.

Custom request headers‚Äč

From v3.2.0, you are able to set custom headers with an eventMethod: "post" and eventMethod: "get" (Except for IE9). This functionality should only be used in the case where a Proxy or other Collector type is being used which allows for custom headers to be set on the request.

caution

Adding additional headers without returning the appropriate CORS Headers on the OPTIONS request will cause events to fail to send.

customHeaders: {
'Content-Language': 'de-DE, en-CA',
}

Set this in the configuration object.

Disabling withCredentials flag‚Äč

From v3.2.0, it's now possible to turn off the withCredentials flag (in the configuration object) on all requests to the collector. The default value is true which sets withCredentials to true on requests. Disabling this flag will have impact when using eventMethod: "post" and eventMethod: "get". This flag has no effect on same site requests, but disabling it will prevent cookies being sent with requests to a Snowplow Collector running on a different domain. You can read more about this flag at MDN.

withCredentials: false

Network protocol and method‚Äč

Setting the request protocol‚Äč

Normally the protocol (http or https) used by the Tracker to send events to a collector is the same as the protocol of the current page. You can force the tracker to use https by prefixing the collector endpoint with the protocol. For example:

newTracker('sp', 'https://{{collector_url_here}}', {
appId: 'my-app-id'
}

GET support‚Äč

By default, events are sent by GET. This can be changed using the eventMethod field of the configuration object.

POST support‚Äč

If you set the eventMethod field of the configuration object to post, the tracker will send events using POST requests rather than GET requests. In browsers which do not support cross-origin XMLHttpRequests (e.g. IE9), the tracker will fall back to using GET.

eventMethod defaults to post, other options available are get for GET requests and beacon for using the Beacon API (Note: Beacon support is not available and/or unreliable in some browsers, in these cases the tracker will fallback to POST). See below for more about Beacon API.

The main advantage of POST requests is that they circumvent Internet Explorer’s maximum URL length of 2083 characters by storing the event data in the body of the request rather than the querystring.

You can also batch events sent by POST by setting a numeric bufferSize field in the configuration object. This is the number of events to buffer before sending them all in a single POST. If the user navigates away from the page while the buffer is only partially full, the tracker will attempt to send all stored events immediately, but this often doesn’t happen before the page unloads. Normally the tracker will store unsent events in localStorage, meaning that unsent events will be resent when the user next visits a page on the same domain. The bufferSize defaults to 1, meaning events are sent as soon as they are created.

We recommend leaving the bufferSize as the default value of 1. This ensure that events are sent as they are created, and reduces the chance of events being unsent and left in local storage, if a user closes their browser before a flush can occur (which happens on page visibility changing).

If you have set bufferSize to greater than 1, you can flush the buffer using the flushBuffer method:

snowplow('flushBuffer');

For instance, if you wish to send several events at once, you might make the API calls to create the events and store them and then and call flushBuffer afterwards to ensure they are all sent before the user leaves the page.

Note that if localStorage is inaccessible or you are not using it to store data, the buffer size will always be 1 to prevent losing events when the user leaves the page.

Beacon API support‚Äč

The Beacon interface is used to schedule asynchronous and non-blocking requests to a web server. This will allow events to be sent even after a webpage is closed. This browser interface can be used to send events by setting the eventMethod field in the configuration object to beacon.

Using Beacon will store a Session Cookie in the users browser for reliability reasons, and will always send the first request as a standard POST. This prevents data loss in a number of older browsers with broken Beacon implementations.

Note: the Beacon API makes POST requests.

More information and documentation about the Beacon API can be found here.

Custom POST path‚Äč

The POST path that is used to send POST requests to a collector can be changed with the configuration object value postPath.

postPath defaults to the standard path: /com.snowplowanalytics.snowplow/tp2

caution

Changing postPath is non-standard behavior that does not conform to the default Collector protocol.

You must update the Collector configuration to support the new path before you send events to it with this setting. Otherwise, events will not be received by the Collector, or in some cases will be collected but will fail validation.

Make sure that requests are supported by your Collector configuration or redirected to the Collector at the correct endpoint (normally this is /com.snowplowanalytics.snowplow/tp2).

Retries‚Äč

Unsuccessful requests are retried by default: the tracker retries on all 3xx, 4xx, and 5xx status codes except for 400, 401, 403, 410, and 422. Events in failed requests that are not retried are lost.

Starting with version 3.17 of the tracker, it is also possible to completely disable retry functionality, using the retryFailedRequests boolean option in the configuration object. This option takes precedence over retryStatusCodes and dontRetryStatusCodes (see below).

Connection timeout‚Äč

When events are sent using POST or GET, they are given 5 seconds to complete by default. GET requests having a timeout is only available in 2.15.0.

_connectionTimeout_: 5000

This value is configurable when initialising the tracker (configuration object) and is specified in milliseconds. The value specified here will effect both POST and GET requests.

Warning: Setting this value too low may prevent events from successfully sending to your collector or the tracker may retry to send events that have already arrived at the collector, as the tracker will assume the request failed on timeout, leading to duplicate events in the warehouse. We recommend 5000 milliseconds as the minimum value and 10000 as the maximum value.

Custom retry HTTP codes‚Äč

The tracker provides a retry functionality that sends the same events repeatedly in case GET or POST requests to the Collector fail. This may happen due to connection issues or a non-successful HTTP status code in Collector response.

Prior to version 3.5 of the tracker, requests receiving all 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes in Collector response were retried. Since version 3.5, the behavior changed and became customizable:

By default, the tracker retries on all 3xx, 4xx, and 5xx status codes except for 400, 401, 403, 410, and 422. The set of status codes for which events should be retried or not is customizable. You can make use of the retryStatusCodes and dontRetryStatusCodes lists to specify them (configuration object). Retry behavior can only be configured for non-successful status codes (i.e., >= 300).

retryStatusCodes: [403], // override default behavior and retry on 403
dontRetryStatusCodes: [418] // force retry on 418

Please note that not retrying sending events to the Collector means that the events will be dropped when they fail to be sent. Take caution when choosing the dontRetryStatusCodes.

Callbacks‚Äč

Provide callbacks within the configuration object.

onRequestSuccess callback‚Äč

note

Available from v3.18.1

The onRequestSuccess option allows you to supply a callback function to be executed whenever a request is successfully sent to the collector. In practice this means any request which returns a 2xx status code will trigger this callback.

The callback's signature is: (data: EventBatch) => void where EventBatch can be either:

  • Record<string, unknown>[] for POST requests
  • string[] for GET requests

onRequestFailure callback‚Äč

note

Available from v3.18.1

The onRequestFailure option allows you to supply a callback function to be executed whenever a request fails to be sent to the collector. This is the inverse of the onRequestSuccess callback, so any non 2xx status code will trigger this callback.

The callback's signature is: (data: RequestFailure) => void where RequestFailure is:

export type RequestFailure = {
/** The batch of events that failed to send */
events: EventBatch;
/** The status code of the failed request */
status?: number;
/** The error message of the failed request */
message?: string;
/** Whether the tracker will retry the request */
willRetry: boolean;
};

The format of EventBatch is the same as the onRequestSuccess callback.

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