Saturday, May 30, 2015

Retrieving the most popular pages using Google Analytics API again…

I occasionally run a little app I wrote 4 years ago to grab the most popular pages on my website via Google Analytics and update the database so the website can display a top 10 list of those pages. I tried to run it this morning and it fell over in a heap. It seems that Google no longer supports the API I was using. Ho hum, shit happens, software does rust…

So time to drag out my old code. Except I couldn’t find it. So time to look at Google’s latest and greatest API and rebuild it from scratch. Here’s what’s required and a small code sample.

First download the Google API .NET libraries. There seem to be a whole host of Google API libraries in nuget, but for Google Analytics the following should get what you need and all the dependencies.

Install-Package Google.Apis.Analytics.v3

Then you’ll need to create a service account in the Google Developers Console. After creating this service account, create a P12 key for it and save it somewhere on your computer. Then add the service account email address to the Google Analytics account you want to access.

Next fire up Visual Studio and create a console application and add the following code

using Google.Apis.Analytics.v3;
using Google.Apis.Analytics.v3.Data;
using Google.Apis.Auth.OAuth2;
using Google.Apis.Services;
using System;
using System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates;

namespace UpdateTop10
  class Program
    static void Main(string[] args)
      catch (Exception ex)
        Console.WriteLine("ERROR: " + ex.Message);
      Console.WriteLine("Press any key to continue...");

    private static void Read()
      String serviceAccountEmail = "<the service account email address>";

      var certificate = new X509Certificate2(@"<the location of your P12 key file>",
        "notasecret", X509KeyStorageFlags.Exportable);

      ServiceAccountCredential credential = new ServiceAccountCredential(
         new ServiceAccountCredential.Initializer(serviceAccountEmail)
           Scopes = new[] { AnalyticsService.Scope.AnalyticsReadonly }

      // Create the service.
      var service = new AnalyticsService(new BaseClientService.Initializer()
        HttpClientInitializer = credential,
        ApplicationName = "<your application name in Developer Console>"

      // Run the request.
      DataResource.GaResource.GetRequest req = service.Data.Ga.Get("ga:<the ID of the analytics view found under Admin/View Settings>", DateTime.Now.AddMonths(-1).ToString("yyyy-MM-dd"),
        DateTime.Now.ToString("yyyy-MM-dd"), "ga:visits");
      req.Dimensions = "ga:pagePath";
      req.Sort = "-ga:visits";
      GaData data = req.Execute();

      for (int i=0; i<20; i++)
        Console.WriteLine(data.Rows[i][0] + ": " + data.Rows[i][1]);

Fill in the bits between angled brackets with your details and give it a go. The top 20 visited pages from the last month should appear in your output.

Overall it wasn’t too painful, Some of the examples on the web seem to be written for older versions of the API which can cause some confusion and Google have such a huge number of APIs out there, finding the right one can be tricky, but once those hurdles are overcome, it’s reasonably straightforward.

Update - Windows Live Writer currently doesn't work with Blogger accounts, I'm guessing this is the same issue that I was having with my old little app. Hopefully Google told everyone they were turning off ClientLogin support, but it appears Microsoft didn't get the memo... And hopefully it gets fixed soon, because the Blogger editor is effing terrible

Monday, May 18, 2015

UK constituency and administrative area KML

A strange thing happened last week, visits to my site were affected by real world events. That’s the first time that has happened. The cause was the UK election and the pages affected by it were the pages devoted to UK electoral constituencies and in particular the constituency of South Thanet. After having a look at those pages, I came to the conclusion that any visitors may have been quite disappointed with the data available on those pages. So I’ve spent a bit of time improving them. They now include the area polygons of each constituency and also provide an estimate of the population and number of households in each constituency.

Whilst i was at it, I also added area polygons for administrative districts and wards. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

No trouble with counties

I wrote recently about the trouble I’ve had figuring out what to do about counties in the postcode data on my site. Thanks to a very helpful comment on that post, I finally figured what I hope is the correct course of action. Previously I only showed county information for postcodes that were located in a county council. The suggestion was to map postcodes to ceremonial counties, which I wasn’t really aware of before. But a quick look at Wikipedia suggested they was a pretty simple mapping between them and administrative areas, with the exception of a little complexity in Stockton-on-Tees. So that’s what I’ve done. You can now download postcode data for each English county here. Hopefully this meets all your county needs!  

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Distance to sea, house price improvements

I made a few improvements to the website over the Bank Holiday weekend. Ever had a burning desire to know the distance from a postcode to the sea? Well now you can find out.

I’ve also updated the way individual house prices are listed so that all sales for a particular property are grouped together (example)

Saturday, May 02, 2015

UK house price data March 2015

I’ve uploaded the latest Land Registry house price data for March 2015 to my site. Prices continue to chug along at 4-5%, as they have been doing for the last 12 months. The CSV download data now includes a yearly summary and I’ve included charts for this annual data at the postcode district level (monthly data is too volatile to show anything meaningful in such small areas)

The trouble with counties

I include some county information with my UK postcode download data, but I get quite a few questions regarding it. The most common question is why don’t all the postcodes have an associated county. The answer is that county information is only shown for postcodes that are located in an administrative county council. So LA1 postcodes are listed as part of Lancashire but BB1 postcodes aren’t, even though most people would consider Blackburn to be in Lancashire. This page gives you an idea of how this works. Select ‘Counties’ in the dropdown and see all the gaps.

The second question that generally follows is whether I could include county information for each postcode. This is where things get tricky. Have a read of this Wikipedia page on the subject of counties. In short, there are the administrative county councils in use today, there are historical counties whose boundaries have changed many times and there are postal counties that used to be supplied by the Royal Mail.

So if I wanted to add county information for every postcode, my first decision would be which of these to use. The Royal Mail seem pretty keen to get rid of postal counties and the information is not provided with the freely available postcode data, so that’s not an option.

So another option would be to use historical counties. Leaving aside the fact these boundaries changed many times, I’m not sure using them would satisfy most users of my download data anyway. Taking an example from the referenced Wikipedia page, how many people would consider Brixton to be in Surrey?

And the final option would be to fill the county data from the local authority. So Brixton would now be in London, but BB1 would now be in ‘Blackburn with Darwen’. Now in this case it’s obvious that any postcodes in the ‘Blackburn with Darwen’ area should show Lancashire as the county so I could possibly map all these authorities to sensible counties, with some work. But even then, would this provide people with what they want? Kingston would be in London, although some people would expect it to be in Surrey, since Surrey county council is based there (and use Surrey in their address).

So in conclusion, counties are blooming tricky and I suspect no one size would fit all, hence the incomplete set of data on my site. If anyone has an opinion on whether there is a good approach to this, let me know.