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Tracking Users

User tracking works for web applications monitored by the Plumbr Browser Agent. User tracking is based on generating and storing a random unique string in the end user’s browser. This random string is then submitted along with each request from the particular browser.

The unique string is stored in the browser’s cookies, and so subsequent visits to the same site can be associated with the same user. The cookie used for this purpose is named plumbr_user_tracker.

In a Plumbr deployment where users are tracked but not identified, a unique user is counted each time your content is accessed from a different device or browser.

For example, the following journey appears as three different users in cases where user identification is not implemented:

  1. Searching for a product on a tablet or a phone one day,
  2. Purchasing the product on a desktop the next day,
  3. Filing a complaint about the purchased product on a laptop a week later.

Even if all these interactions were performed by an authenticated user, Plumbr would track it as three different users. While you can collect data about each of these interactions and devices, you cannot determine if any relationships exist. You only see independent data points.

The very same journey would be linked to a single user if users could be identified. In such a case, the interactions on different devices would be connected with the same user identity.

Plumbr user tracking only works for web applications. So, if you are monitoring EJB modules or Swing applications, Plumbr will be incapable of tracking the users in such deployments. If Browser Agent is used for monitoring user interactions then unidentified but tracked users will appear as separate anonymous users in the Plumbr UI. If only Java agent is used for monitoring, then users will be tracked only if it was possible to obtain identity information for authenticated users, i.e., there are no anonymous users for API calls.