Custom domains, V2 and new embed code options
May 8, 2020 · Return to blog
Within a day of launching the first iteration of custom domains, we saw hundreds of them created by our customers, which was awesome!
From the start, we wanted to make the best custom domain feature on the market. And, by “best“, we mean: easiest to use for non-tech customers, quickest to implement, and most resilient to bypassing ad-blockers.
Our custom domains have incredible redundancy too, meaning if one of our proxy servers goes offline, it automatically falls over to the next within a few seconds. This was important because we’ve always wanted Fathom’s tracker code to load quickly and always be available, so your analytics can be collected quickly and without any interruptions or “gaps”. When we started offering custom domains, we made sure the same was possible - so there wouldn’t be missing stats.
We had a lot of feedback from our customers, and we've got lots of updates to share.
What’s changed with our custom domains
We’ve made our tracker code load even faster on custom domains and our normal URL.
The nerdy explanation of this update: we’ve pointed
starman.fathomdns.com to a globally accelerated endpoint, routing users to the proxy server that’s closest to them. This means that things are now much faster globally. Our normal collector script has also been updated to an edge-optimized endpoint, making it faster too.
Next, our tracking code is now a much simpler script.
The nerdy explanation of this update: we no longer require you to use
document.write in your embed code snippet. We did this initially to offer customers our faster CDN first, and then fall back to your custom domains (which were previously served from just the USA & UK), but now custom domains perform just as well as that blazingly-fast CDN, so we don’t need this.
Finally, because our tracking code needs to load with an SSL certificate (making it secure), those SSL certificates are now stored in a highly available, auto-scaling database, that is shared between all the proxy servers. That means they aren’t kept in the local filesystem and they’re now highly redundant and more stable. Don't worry about SSL certificates, we generate one automatically for you as soon as you point a subdomain to our servers.
On the topic of SSL certificates, we want to say thanks to Matt Holt, the creator of Caddy, for helping us get set-up with everything. He filled in a lot of knowledge gaps for us and all of this wouldn’t be possible without his expertise and knowledge. We've also pleased to share that Fathom is now a sponsor of the Caddy project.
Our tracker embed code is now better as well
We wanted to use this custom domain update as an opportunity to make our embed code much easier and much more useful, so we've completely re-written it.
Doing support for thousands of sites has really helped us see exactly how they’re using our embed code, where problems in documentation are, and how we can do better.
Our new embed code offers better support for custom domains, along with better instructions for front-end frameworks (like Vue, Ember, Gatsby.js, Next.js, etc) and we also now offer the option to honor DNT. And for those of you who are interested, you can now configure Fathom to ignore your canonical link.
We’ve also updated how customers can grab their tracking code from within Fathom’s settings: so you can select your CMS/Framework from the settings modal, and then copy the code you need right from there. "Normal", non-tech users still have the ability to simply copy our standard code quickly. And more tech-inclined users now have much better options for customizing the advanced use of our embed code.
Easily ignore your own visits to your website
Fathom Analytics is masterful at bypassing ad-blockers because we use custom domains, which are now even more powerful (as noted above).
That said, there are instances where you want to block your own visits from being tracked on your website (so you don't skew your stats). To do this, we’ve created a function that will block all interaction with our website analytics on that site, just for you. All other visitors will be tracked normally, but you loading your site, from your primary browser will be fully blocked.
Read about how to stop your website analytics from tracking your visits.