Some time ago I blogged about a new open-source project I'm involved in called jsHub. Since then there's been a little bit of confusion about what jsHub is all about.
Hopefully, I can clear this up in this blog post with an example.
Using our own internal tool we see that page contains DoubleClick, Google Analytics (which they include three times), LeadBack, Microsoft Atlas, Omniture, OpenX, Quantcast, Quigo AdSonar, Revenue Science, Tacoda and comScore Beacon.
1. They add to the page weight. In the case of WWE the HTML of the page is 54687 bytes (the total non-graphic content downloaded is 433211 bytes).
2. They create a risk of data integrity problems.
3. They add unnecessary processing time.
4. They are next to impossible to check for security problems.
Here, for example, is a section of code from Ominture's tracker used on the WWE page:
5. End-users have no way to understand what they are doing.
There is a tool called WASP but it's aimed at people debugging web site tagging problems, not at the privacy-aware consumer. Here's what WASP says about Tacoda on the WWE web site:
For example, all those tags have to find a way to send data back to their respective servers meaning there's duplicated code that has to be tested on a wide range of browsers to ensure that it all works.
7. Their inner working are often obscure.
With one piece of code the page weight is less, there's no danger of one product getting a page view and another not and processing time is reduced.
Then to make the entire thing debuggable and easy for an end-user to understand, there's the tag inspector. It's a user interface that talks to the jsHub tag and interrogates its operation. That way a user can see what's being gathered on a page, and who is receiving it.
Since the entire project is open-source it's possible to inspect the code to ensure that it is well written and secure. And it's licensed under a BSD-license so that it's open and includeable everywhere.
To further ensure that the code is of high-quality (and can handle all the different types of browsers that it might be executed in), there's a complete test suite and cross-browser testing system.
To make exactly what data is being gathered clear we are also proposing (public domain) standards for marking up page metadata using microformats. Our proposed standard is called hPage.
We're just getting started with jsHub. It's running on a small number of sites and we're working to build vendor interest. We strongly believe that a shared, open-source tag is the best solution for the entire web world.
If you want to get involved, contact the team.