Tag: Analytics

Debugging Sitecore 9 Analytics Issues

With Sitecore 9 the way analytics is recorded and processed changed. Rather than everything being done by the IIS application, the architecture changed to include:

  1. A second IIS application called xconnect
  2. A windows services called Sitecore XConnect Search Indexer

As well as this Mongo was replaced by:

  1. SQL Server databases
  2. A SOLR XDB Core

Sitecore 9 also introduced data being secure in transit as well as at rest which means all traffic is encrypted using certificates.

While all these peices can be considered good, it does also create more points of failure that becomes harder to debug. So after spending a decent amount of time debugging why no analytic reports were loading and then why no data was appearing in the reports, I've made a checklist to go through.

Debugging Sitecore Analytics Checklist

1. XConnect Connection String

The main Sitecore application has connection strings for where it will find the XConnect service. They will look like this:

<add name="xconnect.collection" connectionString="https://mysite.xconnect" />
<add name="xconnect.collection.certificate" connectionString="StoreName=My;StoreLocation=LocalMachine;FindType=FindByThumbprint;FindValue=EF7F38B623E6664359110F2C6EB6DA00D567950F" />

One gives the path to the XConnect service and the other gives the path to find the certificate.

Firstly check that the XConnect path is correct and that you can access it and secondly check that the thumbprint corresponds with a certificate in the certificate store.

You can see what certificates are on your machine using this PowerShell script:

Get-ChildItem -Path "cert:\LocalMachine\Root" | Format-Table Subject, FriendlyName, Thumbprint
Get-ChildItem -Path "cert:\LocalMachine\My" | Format-Table Subject, FriendlyName, Thumbprint
Get-ChildItem -Path "cert:\CurrentUser\My" | Format-Table Subject, FriendlyName, Thumbprint

2. Check certificate expiry date

Having a certificate is a good start, but it could still have expired.

Find the certificate in the certificate store by hitting start > manage computer certificates and find it in one of the folders.

Check the expiration date. If it's in the past then it's not going to work. This is common because the installation script for Sitecore 9 will set the expiration date to a year after install by default.

If it has expired you will need a new cert, you can create this by using the same script that you used to install sitcore origionally (Just the certificate bit).

#Switch to correct vesion of SIF
Remove-Module -Name SitecoreInstallFramework
Import-Module -Name SitecoreInstallFramework -RequiredVersion 1.2.1

#define parameters
$prefix = "SitePrefix"
$PSScriptRoot = "C:\resourcefiles9.0"
$XConnectCollectionService = "$prefix.xconnect"
$sitecoreSiteName = "$prefix.sc"

#install client certificate for xconnect
$certParams = @{
Path = "$PSScriptRoot\xconnect-createcert.json"
CertificateName = "$prefix.xconnect_client"
RootCertFileName = "SIF121Root"

3. Check security permissons on the certificate

If you have a certificate and it's still valid then it could be that the app pool the site is running in doesn't have access to read the certificate.

To check this:

  1. Right click the certificate
  2. All Tasks
  3. Manage Private Keys
  4. Check that the app pool user for your site is listed in the list of users and that it has read permission. If it's not there add it using the name
    IIS APPPOOL\app pool name

4. Check License Files

Partner licenses only last for a year so if your using one of those it may have expired.

We're all used to checking the license file in the Sitecore application but XConnect has a license too.

These will be in:

Only the first will be used when your viewing the site, but it's worth knowing about the others to, incase you ever run a job manually.

5. Check manual rebuild of indexes

You can trigger a manual rebuild of the xDB index by following these instructions:


Remember in point 4 that it has it's own license file. It also has it's own connection strings.

6. Check XConnect site works in a browser

If you open XConnect in a browser you should recieve no certificate errors and a timestamp saying how long XConnect had been running for.

7. Check certificates are in the right store

This stack overflow post was a big help for me (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/26247462/http-error-403-16-client-certificate-trust-issue ). I was at the point where everything seemed right, but moving the certificates as shown here got it to the point of the analytics reports loading.

Windows 2012 introduced stricter certificate store validations. According to KB 2795828: Lync Server 2013 Front-End service cannot start in Windows Server 2012, the Trusted Root Certification Authorities (i.e. Root) store can only have certificates that are self-signed. If that store contains non-self-signed certificates, client certificate authentication under IIS returns with a 403.16 error code.

To solve the problem, you have to remove all non-self-signed certificates from the root store. This PowerShell command will identify non-self-signed certificates:

Get-Childitem cert:\LocalMachine\root -Recurse | 
  Where-Object {$_.Issuer -ne $_.Subject}

In my situation, we moved these non-self-signed certificates into the Intermediate Certification Authorities (i.e. CA) store:

Get-Childitem cert:\LocalMachine\root -Recurse | 
  Where-Object {$_.Issuer -ne $_.Subject} | 
  Move-Item -Destination Cert:\LocalMachine\CA

Checklist for data not going into Analytics

If you've got to the point of the analytics reports working, but not showing any data, this is my checklist for making sure data goes in. In my case I was trying to log site searches as per my article from a few years ago https://himynameistim.com/2017/09/13/populating-the-internal-search-report-in-sitecore/ there wern't any errors, but no data ever showed.

1. Enable Analytics Debugging

In Sitecore.Analytics.Tracking.config there is a setting to set the analytics logging level to debug. You will also need to set the log level on log4net root in Sitecore.config to debug.

2. Disable Robot Detection

In my case Sitecore thought I was a robot. Changing these settings will disable that:

<setting name="Analytics.AutoDetectBots" set:value="false" />
<setting name="Analytics.Robots.IgnoreRobots" set:value="false" />

3. Test analytics is tracking something

One of the hardest parts about analytics is it's not instant. The initial tracking only goes into the DB at the end of the users session and that's only for collection. It won't appear in the reports until processing has happened. So to speed this up:

Create a page called kill.aspx as follows. This will end the users session and trigger the data to be fed into the DB.

<%@ Page language="c#" %>

<!DOCTYPE html>


<div>Session Abandoned</div>
<% Session.Abandon(); %>


Next do something on the site that will cause some tracking to get added to the DB. In my case it was the search. Then go to kill.aspx to force session abondon.

Check the logs. You should see something like this...

25016 11:19:13 DEBUG [Analytics]: The CommitSession pipeline, ProcessSubscriptions is skipped - there is no subscriptions for location id: 4ebd0208-8328-5d69-8c44-ec50939c0967

Check the DB an entry should have gone into a shard db for [xdb_collection].[Interactions] table

To speed up processing, restart the main sitecore application.

Tracking downloads in Sitecore Experience Analytics

This blog is generally aimed at developers whereas the contents of this post could be categorized as a topic for marketers, but I've decided to include it as its likely something a Sitecore dev could get asked about and its also quite useful to know about.

Out the box Sitecore's Experience Analytics comes with a set of pre-configured reports to give insights into the sites visitors. Previously I blogged about Populating the internal search report in Sitecore which unless done will probably lead to someone asking why it's blank. Another report which initially won't show any data is downloads.

Located under behavior there is actually now two reports relating to downloads. The Assets report and the Downloads report.

Assets, in Sitecores words - "Describes your marketing assets or content used to attract contacts to your website and increase their engagement with your organization."

Downloads - "Describes your specific assets, their download activity, and their value."

These reports are populated by assigning a download event to a piece of media and organizing it as a marketing asset.

Adding a download event to an item

Sitecore doesn't know which items you think are important to track as downloads so content editors need to mark them manually.

Go to the Media Library

Select the item you want to track as a download

From the ribbon select the Analyze tab and click Attributes

Select download form the list of events

Remember to publish your changes.

Categorizing an Asset

By assigning a marketing asset type to your items they can be grouped for analysis. Such as grouping downloads into categories like white paper and product brochure.

Before you assign a marketing asset to an item you will first need to create your assets. On the Sitecore Launchpad, open the Marketing Control Panel.

Go to Assets which is located under Taxonomies.

Create your set of Asset Groups and Assets within each. In this example I've created a group called Content and Assets called Instruction Manual and Product Brochure.

Navigate to the item you want to assign the asset to and select the relevant asset in the marketing asset field.

Publish all your changes.

The result

Now you've set a download event and a marketing asset, the assets and downloads reports will start populating.

Going Further

The concept of having to tag every download as a download may seem a little tedious and also prone to being missed in the future. If all your downloads are PDF's and you want to track all PDF's as a download, one way to make life easier is to update the standard values on the PDF template item (/sitecore/templates/System/Media/Unversioned/Pdf) so that it always has the attribute of download. The content authors will still need to do the marketing asset categorization, but at least this gives them 1 less thing to do.

Populating the internal search report in Sitecore

Out the box Sitecore ships with a number of reports pre-configured. Some of these will show data without you doing anything. e.g. The pages report will automatically start showing the top entry and exit pages as a page view is something Sitecore can track.

Other's like the internal search report will just show a message of no data to display, which can be confusing/frustrating for your users. Particularly when they've just spent money on a license fee to get great analytics data only to see a blank report.

The reason it doesn't show any information is relatively straight forward. Sitecore doesn't know how your site search is going to work and therefore it can't do the data capture part of the process. That part of the process however is actually quite simple to do.

Sitecore has a set of page events that can be registered in the analytics tracker. Some of these like Page Visited will be handled by Sitecore. In this instance the one we are interested in is Search and will we have to register it manually.

To register the search event use some code like this (note, there is a constant that references the item id of the search event). The query parameter should be populated with the search term the user entered.

using Sitecore.Analytics;
using Sitecore.Analytics.Data;
using Sitecore.Data.Items;
using Sitecore.Diagnostics;
using SitecoreItemIds;

namespace SitecoreServices
  public class SiteSearch
      public static void TrackSiteSearch(Item pageEventItem, string query)
          Assert.ArgumentNotNull(pageEventItem, nameof(pageEventItem));
          Assert.IsNotNull(pageEventItem, $"Cannot find page event: {pageEventItem}");

          if (Tracker.IsActive)
              var pageEventData = new PageEventData("Search", ContentItemIds.Search)
                  ItemId = pageEventItem.ID.ToGuid(),
                  Data = query,
                  DataKey = query,
                  Text = query
              var interaction = Tracker.Current.Session.Interaction;
              if (interaction != null)

Now after triggering the code to be called a few times, your internal search report should start to be populated like this.