Application usage statistics and targeted user surveys

Volker Krause vkrause at
Tue Apr 25 12:57:14 BST 2017

On Tuesday 25 April 2017 12:54:42 Aleix Pol wrote:
> 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)

I'll fix that, that was just me being lazy as my Qt4 and Windows development 
environments didn't have ECM :)

For GammaRay this isn't an issue anyway, as we ship all required dependencies 
(parts of ECM and KF5, and some other stuff), for easier deployment on 
embedded targets, and due to the Qt4 backward compatibility requirement. We'd 
probably do the same with the application side part of the feedback library.

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