Friday, August 14, 2009

Slowly coming out of stealth mode

For some time I've been working at a new start-up in London. We've been doing a bunch of work to get a product out the door (probably by the end of the year), but one of the things we decided to do was spin out some bits of technology as open source projects. The first thing to come out of the door is a new JavaScript-based web site tagging technology called jsHub.org.

If you look at any web site today you'll see multiple 'tags' on the web site which range from web bugs used for advertising to large pieces of JavaScript used for web site analytics. You can download programs like WASP and Ghostery to see what's on a page. If you use them on my page you'll see that I'm using Google Analytics.

The problem is that as more and more products are added to web sites for analytics, advertising, optimization, A/B testing, etc. the number of different tags on the pages explodes. This leads to long load times and the silly situation where different pieces of tagging code are trying to access the same metadata about the page which leads to inevitable inconsistencies.

jsHub.org is designed to get around these problem by implementing a single tag on the page which is capable of talking to all the different products distributing the metadata to the different products needed by a web site.



Everything about jsHub.org is open source. We've created a separate non-profit company and given all the IP to it. We are releasing it under the BSD license and the standards we are proposing are public domain.

Our goal is to make web site tagging lighter, more consistent and more professional (we have complete automated test suites for our code).

As part of making things open we are also releasing a tool that allows anyone, web site developer or member of the public, to examine the use of jsHub.org on any web page. The tag inspector allows you to see exactly what information is being gathered and where it's going.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

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