Friday, July 13th, 2007

Robot Replay: Watch your users via Ajax

Category: Showcase

Robot Replay is a Rails application written by Nitobi that allows you to record how your users use your site, and play it back later.

You include a piece of JavaScript on your site, and then user events are chunked, and sent up to RobotReplay every now and then. Once the user is done with their session you can see it, and play it back as it happened.

The playback happens by using the browser itself. This means that at anytime you can stop the playback and actually interact with the site. Pretty cool.

There is obviously much use from a usability standpoint, and we were also told that SEO folk find it useful.

Watch an example of mouse gestures and forms.

Robot Replay

Posted by Dion Almaer at 2:08 pm

3.2 rating from 41 votes


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Big Brother is watchin’ you!

Comment by visus — July 13, 2007

Sounds pretty cool, especially if you can hook up the user with a list of tasks to run through, and then observe the result. Although I wonder since it would have to be tightly coupled with the page HTML, the data might become useless after the page content changes.

There are other cheap services like UserVue that will actually record a screencast, but that requires the participant to load software and cooperate.

Comment by BarelyFitz — July 13, 2007

I wrote an experimental script based on this theme a while back, it was kind of neat (though difficult at times) to get the playback entirely accurate.
I was inspired by “YugoP”, a very talented flash/shockwave developer who had some interesting experiments named “fingertracks” (look them up in the mystery-meat nav under archive -> page 2.) Quite neat.

Comment by Scott Schiller — July 13, 2007

Your links are both pointing to the same video ;)

Comment by DarkRat — July 13, 2007

Any JS feature can be disabled by the users. Especially if you plan on spying on them. I will remember to add this to my Adblock list.

Comment by Bono — July 13, 2007

I tried it with drupal and wordpress, it didn’t work very well.

Comment by mileZ — July 14, 2007

This will be an amazing tool during the development cycle. I wonder they will price it at after beta?

Comment by ben — July 14, 2007

This could be extremely useful to better view how users interact with your site. Conducting user-testing with real users in a lab is timeconsumig and expensive, a well as giving results from an articificial environment. At the end of the day except for large scale operations it just not cost effective – but this look ideal and could really help people build websites that are truly responsive to users needs.

Comment by Kruston — July 15, 2007

Wow, this is pretty cool, no no no, correction, its great. Especially for students and developers to test their web applications, they can give the test user a series of tasks and then monitor them and later document it in the system’s documentation. Great stuff. Students check it out better, sure a nice way to get an A+ ;)

Comment by Shounak Ghosh — July 16, 2007

This is an idea that Eric Pascarello came up with back in 2005. Not sure what the status of this work on this is.

Comment by Sanjiv Jivan — July 16, 2007

It can be so much better…

Comment by Luiz Júnior Fernandes — July 16, 2007

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