Google Analytics And Compete Toolbar Not Playing Nice

I was having a problem with Google Analytics a week or so ago and yesterday Michael Gray was having the same problem. I thought more people might end up sharing our issue with Analytics and figured posting the solution was in order.

You can probably guess the problem and solution from the title of this post. After installing the Compete toolbar as an extension for Firefox, Analytics started acting funky. I couldn’t change the dates for the reports or view the majority of things I wanted to view. Graphs wouldn’t display and clicking on one of the tabs did nothing more than highlight the tab color without displaying the requested info. The one extension seemed to break about 80% of the functionality of Analytics and made the application 100% useless.

After a couple of emails to the Analytics team they responded with the suggestion that it might be a Firefox extension causing the problem. Fortunately for me I had only installed a couple recently and was able to quickly identify the Compete Toolbar as the culprit. Still Michael is right when when he said in a comment

this should be a lesson, using programming that depends on client side code or functionality is a dangerous. You have no way of knowing what is on an end users machine, and how it will interact with your JS or AJAX application.

There really isn’t any good reason why you shouldn’t be able to use both Analytics and the toolbar. And forcing use of Analytics in IE is not a reasonable solution. You shouldn’t have to make a choice between the two. In this case the choice for me was easy since I’ll use Analytics more than the Compete toolbar, but that ease of choosing won’t always be the case with every application.

Had the problem been with the Web Developer Toolbar I’d be looking for a new stats package.

JavaScript, particularly when it’s incorporated as Ajax is a very cool thing, but it’s important to keep in mind that your application might not work for everyone and if you happen to break a popular extension your application and your site might not get the love it deserves. Most people will only know your site doesn’t work and not come back.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. I’ve never run the Google toolbar … or Alexa, MSN, Yahoo, or any of these. I really don’t understand the appeal?

    I also can’t even fathom why two products made by the same company would break each other. That’s really bad. It makes Google look incompetent, which clearly isn’t the case, and also isn’t the impression they want to give. What could the toolbar be doing, that would break their own client script?

  2. The appeal for me is the popup blocker and the ability to search Google without having to use the silly box in the top right corner (I never liked it there).

  3. Just a note, but the Compete Toolbar has nothing to do with Google. Compete collects data on websites to share more information with users like analytics or if the site is potentially running a phishing scam.

    Forrest all the toolbars do offer a few shortcuts to using the engine. I tend to have them installed more to understand the kind of information a search engine might want to collect and to glean any insight I can. i don’t really use any all that much, but sometimes I do.

  4. Hi Steven,

    Thank you for alerting us of this issue. We are working on a fix. I apologize for any trouble this may have caused. Please feel free to contact me directly, if you ever face any issues with the toolbar, or the site.

    e: jmeattle at compete dot com

  5. Glad I could help Jay. And no need to apologize. Things happen for one and if anything I think it’s Google who should have seen something like this happening. If not with your toolbar then another extension. I’ll be looking forward to the fix. I would like to reinstall the Compete toolbar and if I ever encounter problems with it I promise I’ll be in touch.

    Feel free to drop by when you have a workaround so I can let everyone here know it will work with Analytics again.

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