Application usage statistics and targeted user surveys

Aleix Pol aleixpol at
Tue Apr 25 11:54:42 BST 2017

On Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 12:52 PM, Volker Krause <vkrause at> wrote:
> Hi,
> we have talked about the above topics a couple of times in the past, from what
> I remember usually agreeing it would be nice to have some more statistical
> information about our users, so we know what our applications are used for,
> and to measure impact of changes. Similarly, it would be nice to be able to
> actually ask our users questions without statistical bias by using out-of-band
> channels like blogs or social media. This can be obviously addressed by adding
> this into application code, but that raises some valid privacy concerns.
> Wanting this for GammaRay I attempted to implement a generic framework for
> this, with the goal to make this fully transparent, and give the user full
> control over what data is shared, and how often they want to participate in
> surveys, ie. make this solid enough on the privacy side that even I would
> enable it myself. You'll find the code in Git (kde:kuserfeedback).
> Feature-wise it so far contains:
> - a set of built-in data sources (app version, Qt version, platform,
> application usage time, screen setup, etc) that applications can choose to
> enable
> - generic data sources for tracking the time ratio a Q_PROPERTY has a specific
> value, allowing to track e.g. which application view is used how much
> - the ability to add custom/application-specific data sources
> - reference widgets for customizing what data you want to share, and showing
> exactly what that means, in human readable translated text and if you insists
> also all the way down to the raw JSON sent to the server.
> - survey targeting using simple C++/JS-like expressions that can access all
> the data sources (ie. you can target e.g. only users with high DPI multi-
> screen setups)
> - configurable encouragement of users to contribute (ie. after X starts and/or
> Y hours of usage, repeated after Z months, suggest the user to participate if
> they aren't already doing so).
> - a management and analytic tool that allows you to manage products and survey
> campaigns, and view recorded data using configurable aggregations
> - the entire thing works without unique user ids. Fingerprinting can still be
> an issue on too small user sets and/or when using too much detail in the data.
> - by default all of this is opt-in of course, although technically the API
> doesn't prevent applications to change this
> - it can deal with multiple products, each product can have different data
> sources and survey campaigns
> Technically, this consists of the following parts:
> - a library that goes into the target application, backward compatible all the
> way to Qt4.8/MSVC2010 (needed for my GammaRay use-case), depending only on
> QtGui
> - a library with the reference widgets, also with extended backward
> compatibility
> - the server, written in PHP5 and supporting sqlite/mysql/postgresql. Not the
> most fun technology, but that stuff is available almost anywhere, and easy to
> deploy and maintain
> - the management tool, recent Qt5/recent C++, using QtCharts for the data
> analysis
> - a command line tool for data import/export, useful for eg. automated backups
> All of this is LGPLv2+ licensed.
> Feedback obviously very welcome, in particular around privacy concerns, or
> reasons that would make you enable/disable such a feature.
> Regards,
> Volker

Hi Volker,
This is really cool and necessary! I'd really like to see it adopted
in our applications, hoping Krita can be the first of many. ;)

WRT the code, it depends needs Qt4, we can live with it, but isn't it
a bit weird that we have several ECM files forked in it? :/ is it
really that tough of a depenendency? (if so, maybe we should rethink
the whole KF5 approach x'D)


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